I tried the cooked breakfast at a zero hygiene rated Bristol greasy spoon cafe

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
As well as cooked breakfasts, the cafe serves burgers, omelettes, sandwiches and baguettes

Nothing gets the gastric juices flowing like an invitation to review a cafe that’s just been given the worst hygiene rating in the city.

But that was the request from the editor and with my holiday request forms and expense sheets ‘pending’, I was in no position to argue. I was happy to bite my lip and head to the Oak Tree Cafe.

Of course, the ribbing from mates started soon after. Was I going to wear a mask and gloves when I ate there? Did I have good life insurance, and so on.

I’d never eaten at the Oak Tree Cafe before but I knew people who had and they’re all still alive so it couldn’t be THAT bad could it?

Anyway, it was almost a month since the food safety officers visited the place and handed it a zero hygiene rating so it’s probably safer than ever. You could probably eat off the floor.

The inspection recommended ‘major improvement necessary’ for ‘cleanliness and condition of facilities and building’. It also said ‘urgent’ improvement necessary for ‘hygienic food handling’ and ‘management of food safety’.

Not that any of this seemed to be bothering my fellow customers at this cheap and cheerful cafe. It was pretty much full mid-morning, with locals and passing tradesmen in hi-vis bibs.

The Oak Tree Cafe on Gloucester RoadThe Oak Tree Cafe on Gloucester Road
The Oak Tree Cafe on Gloucester Road | Mark Taylor

Just as I was tucking into my small breakfast (£6.50 for egg, bacon, sausage, hash browns, beans and toast), I spotted an old friend wandering in for a breakfast and he joined my table.

I didn’t tell him why I was there - unlike him, I don’t live nearby and I had made a special journey - until halfway through his medium breakfast.

‘Actually, I was asked to review it because it just got a zero hygiene rating,’ I whispered, just as he was biting into his bacon. ‘Oh, really? Er, right,’ he added, looking down at his plate.

But he’s made of stern stuff and told me he often eats there and has never had a problem. He looked the picture of health on it.

And I had no qualms either, apart from a small chip on the mug of tea. The welcome from the staff was friendly and tables were clean.

The small cooked breakfast at The Oak Tree CafeThe small cooked breakfast at The Oak Tree Cafe
The small cooked breakfast at The Oak Tree Cafe | Mark Taylor

The food was fine, too. OK, the soft and pappy sausage was never going to win a prize but the bacon was decent enough, the egg perfectly cooked, the hash browns and beans fine and everything was piping hot.

As well as cooked breakfasts, the cafe serves cottage pie, steak pie, burgers, fishfingers, omelettes, sandwiches and baguettes.

A zero hygiene rating isn’t the greatest bit of publicity for a small independent cafe at a time when so many hospitality places are going under but I’m sure it has been a wake up call for them and they’ll try harder to please the food inspectors when they next come knocking.

In the meantime, I’d be happy to eat there again if I was in the area and judging by how busy it was, so will the cafe’s loyal locals.

Oak Tree Cafe, 308 Gloucester Rd, Horfield, Bristol, BS7 8PD.

Related topics: