Dominic Wood's bar and restaurant, the WildWood, treads that fine line between informality, value and individuality. So how do you reflect that in the drinks offering? "We seem to cater for quite a knowledgeable crowd so we can afford to take a few risks with our drinks offering. We have introduced a speciality bottled beer board, which is working really well, people like to have something different. We are also keen to broaden people's ideas about drinks and food, and pairing our speciality beers with dishes works really well," he says.
Alongside this is a popular cocktail list. "Our cocktails are made to a high standard using premium spirits, with a lot of care and attention," says Wood. "They definitely have the ‘wow' factor and on busy nights if someone orders one you can guarantee that others will see it and start ordering cocktails as well."
With a menu ranging from classic brunch dishes to informal evening meals like fish pie and toad in the hole, most diners won't expect an extensive wine list, and Wood decided that simplicity was the key. "As soon I found a venue in Bristol I contacted Michael Altur, who I'd worked with at Hotel Du Vin, [and who until recently worked for Heritage Wine]. He knew exactly what I wanted and needed as far as our wine offering was concerned. The wine list reflects the menu in its simplicity. It is not over-burdened with choice but there is something for everyone with three red and three white wines by the glass, with bottles of each ranging from £12.95 to £22.95."
It's not all alcohol though, as befits an all-day bar and restaurant, coffees and teas are a big seller. "Staff at the nearby hospital view us as a bit of an escape so on occasion the mornings and afternoons can be busier than lunch itself," says Wood. "The coffee machine from First Choice has improved our coffee offering, the training has been better than at previous companies and has got us serving a high-quality offering every time."
90 Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5BB
0117 929 3627www.thewildwoodbristol.co.uk
FIRST CHOICE COFFEE ON THE WILDWOOD
The WildWood is a case in point to demonstrate profit potential. Hot drink sales have rocketed by 75% following the installation of a full coffee offer for Wood earlier this year. The offer has been cleverly promoted but Wood says the success is largely down to the training they've had, which ensures they deliver quality every time.
He explains: "The key for me is the uniformity in the preparation and the way the coffee is served. Every cup has the ‘wow' factor and I think that sets people's minds up for an enjoyable experience before they even taste it."
Aimee Hughes, of First Choice Coffee, adds, "You don't need to employ specialised staff to deliver great coffee but you do need to train your existing staff. We've done a couple of training sessions for Dominic's team, together with latte art, to create that all-important ‘wow' factor. That needs to be followed with a fantastic flavour and this is what gets the customers coming back."
Because of its lack of outside space, business at the WildWood suffered slightly during the heatwave. As a result, Dom Wood has hit the streets again with marketing offers to tempt them back in. Christmas bookings are already arriving while the back room, a perfect small event venue, is a good source of income.
"I think it will be a case of hanging on through the summer and the business will fly come September," says Wood.
One bit of good news is that the restaurant had a health and safety inspection in June and was awarded four out of five stars. "Which in an old building like this is a great achievement," he says.