We had lunch in the cosy Bristol cafe that used to be a 1950s toilet block
This weekend it holds its annual community apple day
Before it opened in 2011, Café on the Square had been a derelict eyesore for six years. Prior to that, this 1950s-built single-storey building on Shirehampton Road was the local public toilets.
Located at the heart of Sea Mills, Café on the Square is now very much a community hub for local residents.
The cafe, run by local churches in Sea Mills, a small team of staff and volunteers, serves a selection of hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes made by volunteers, paninis, fresh soup and jacket potatoes, all at affordable prices.
Café on the Square also organises various events for the community, including the annual Sea Mills Apple Day, which has been running for about seven years.
Heidi, one of the cafe managers, told me how Sea Mills estate was built for returning war heroes and one thing they did was plant a fruit tree in every garden to encourage self-sufficiency.
And so Sea Mills has got a huge abundance of fruit at this time every year and Café on the Square decided to put it to good use by creating an annual Apple Day which has grown in size throughout the years.
This year’s event takes place at the cafe this Saturday (September 23) and they have a special guest, local ‘apple tree lady’ Shannon Smith (an orchard learning coordinator at Horfield Organic Community Orchard) who will help identify visitors’ apple species.
From 11am to 2pm on Saturday, there will also be freshly squeezed juice available to sample and buy, hot and cold food and homemade bakes on sale at the cafe, as well as live music, family activities, local crafts, and produce for sale.
The cosy cafe, conveniently next to a bus stop, has both indoor and outdoor seating and a window near the entrance is covered with pamphlets showcasing the community activities available in the area.
On a wet and windy weekday when inside tables were the only option, I decided to go for the vegetable soup with brown toasted bread (£3.35), a smoothie made of blueberry, apple, raspberry and ginger (£2.60) and a pesto, dried tomato and mozzarella panini for £3.65.
The panini came with a small, refreshing salad. The bread was welcomingly warm and slightly crispy, whilst the filling contrasted well by being soft and creamy. Overall, it was flavourful from the first bite.
As for the soup, it was smooth and creamy and had small chunks of soft vegetables. It certainly warmed me up after a morning walking in the rain.
The smoothie was fruity, sweet and refreshing. Overall, the meal was extremely filling and satisfying, the service was fast and the staff very friendly.
It was an enjoyable and affordable lunch in a cosy venue with strong community vibes and a fascinating history.
Café on the Square, 136 Shirehampton Road, Sea Mills, Bristol, BS9 2DY.