We had a cooked breakfast at the tucked away Knowle cafe run by Bristol greasy spoon ‘royalty’
The family have run some of south Bristol’s best loved cafes over the years
Born and brought up in Knowle West, Jessie Garrett didn’t have to look too far when it came to finding premises for his first cafe.
Tucked away at the far end of Redcatch Road, next to a firm of electricians, Jessie’s is on the fringes of Knowle West, an area lacking decent greasy spoon cafes.
In fact, the last memorable one was arguably the Filwood Grill on Filwood Broadway, which was run by Jessie’s grandmother.
The Garretts also ran the legendary Bristol City fans cafe Red & White next to Ashton Gate for years so you could say this Knowle West family is greasy spoon royalty in south Bristol.
And that’s probably why this modest cafe was doing a roaring trade when I visited early on Friday morning.
The sun hadn’t quite reached the benches outside so all the diners were inside, but there was a steady stream of people coming and going.
As is usually the case in greasy spoons early in the morning, the majority of customers at the white Formica tables were tradesmen having a proper breakfast before a long day of graft.
Plumbers, plasterers, general builders … most had their businesses printed on the backs of sweatshirts and t-shirts. It was like a living directory of south Bristol tradesmen.
In the background, UB40 and Chaka Demus were trying to be heard above the sizzles and banter coming from the open kitchen behind the counter. Most of the staff seemed to know the majority of customers by name.
As well as a range of cooked breakfasts, there are sandwiches (the popular bacon sarnie is £3), burgers and ‘meals on toast’. The latter includes beans on toast for £3 and poached eggs for £4.50. If you want to be a bit posh, you can add avocado to the poached eggs but it’ll cost you an extra £2.
Not that there were any obvious candidates for avocado when I was there. Everyone to a man (and, yes, it was all men eating on this occasion) were tucking into one of the four cooked breakfasts on the board.
The biggest and most expensive (£11.50) is the ‘Wester’ (as in ‘Knowle Wester’ if you’re not in the know) - a mountainous plate of three bacon rashers, three sausages, fried potatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, beans, tomatoes and toast.
Then there’s a ‘large’ (£9.90) and ‘medium’ (£8), with a veggie breakfast (£8.50) available on request.
Being a man who only has to move his soft fingertips across a keyboard all day, rather than put in a serious work shift compared to most of my fellow diners, I went for the ‘small’ breakfast.
The single rasher of bacon was of a good quality, thick and perfectly grilled. The plump sausage was firm and juicy and the beans steaming hot and glossy.
The egg has been fried on both sides but the golden yolk was still runny - quite a skill and one a few Michelin star chefs still wouldn’t be able to pull off - and the white toast generously buttered.
At just £5.50 including a mug of tea, this entry-level breakfast at Jessie’s was cooked with care and represented excellent value.
Having lost his work in the pandemic, owner Jessie took quite a gamble when he upgraded a lockdown delivery breakfast service and turned it into a proper cafe but it clearly paid off.
Just when I thought proper greasy spoons were dying out, up pops Jessie’s Cafe.
Great food, kind prices and friendly, salt of the earth staff and customers - it’s a real gem.
Jessie’s Cafe, 249 Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol, BS4 2HQ.