They just don’t make places like the Fountain Cafe in St George any more. It’s one of a sadly dying breed of timeless greasy spoon caffs. Family-run, it’s also one of the oldest cafes in Bristol, if not the oldest.
The current owners have done their homework on this and a few laminated information sheets near the counter show details of its history.
The building on Church Road started life in the 1870s as The Tram Refreshment Rooms and tobacconists, a reference to when it was used primarily by workers at the nearby tram depot.
It became The Fountain Cafe in 1955 and it’s still going strong 78 years later.
On the weekday morning when Bristol World visited, The Fountain Cafe was doing a brisk trade, with both sit-in diners and takeaway customers. There was the usual greasy spoon smattering of hi-vis jacket workers enjoying their break and a few regulars known by name by the owners.
A prominent location on the road between St George and Kingswood, The Fountain also attracts plenty of passing trade, as all good transport caffs should.
It’s worth mentioning that the cafe is cash-only - there’s a ‘cash is king’ sign by the counter - and no card machine. I didn’t realise until I’d ordered so had to dash to the local cashpoint (it’s in the nearby Co-op down the road).
The large menus on the wall list the breakfast options as well as other choices. These include hot and cold sandwiches, baguettes, paninis and toasties. There’s also a lunch menu including steak and kidney pie, cottage pie, burgers, jacket potatoes and omelettes.
But it’s the fry-ups that have kept The Fountain Cafe on the map for all these years. The owners may have changed over the decades but the quality has remained high.
The cooked breakfast comes in three sizes - regular (£5.50), medium (£7) and the ‘special’ at £8.50, which will bag you two sausages, two rashers of bacon, two eggs, beans, tomatoes, black pudding, two hash browns, mushrooms, bread and butter and toast or fried bread. The price includes tea or coffee.
I went for the ‘medium’, which comprises one sausage, one rasher of bacon, egg, beans, tomatoes, black pudding, hash brown, mushrooms, bread and butter and toast.
Every individual component was piping hot and cooked correctly, from the plump sausage and crisp-edged bacon to the slice of black pudding and the fried egg with perfectly runny yolk.
I washed it down with a mug of tea that for some reason - often the case in proper greasy spoons - didn’t seem to drop below boiling point during the course of my meal.
When we reviewed another cafe nearby recently, Bristol World readers soon responded with their own favourite greasy spoons in the area and The Fountain Cafe came out on top. I can see why. It’s a timeless gem.
The Fountain Cafe, 326 Church Road, St George, Bristol, BS5 8AJ.