The Crafty Egg has always been very popular with Bristolians – but even more so post-pandemic.
When garden centres were allowed to reopen in lockdown, owner Ben Bennett decided to start selling plants from his independent café on Stokes Croft.
Following his clever and planet-friendly trick, The Crafty Egg is now a busier, greener and happier space – and it’s well worth the long queues.
I visited the brunch hotspot on a Friday morning with a friend, and we were lucky enough to get one of the last remaining tables inside – a breakfast bar facing the window.
Surrounded by luscious green plants of all shapes and sizes, it felt like we were sitting in a tropical greenhouse. The atmosphere was laid back, friendly and welcoming.
Scanning the menu, we both had difficulty picking our brunches. There was so much that I wanted to try. From the freshly made smoothies to the baked eggs and full breakfasts, we were spoiled for choice.
Eventually, we ordered a cappuccino, a latte and a mango juice, followed by Afghan baked eggs and banana and Nutella pancakes. And we were glad we did. The latte art was Instagram-worthy and the cappuccino was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Our portion sizes were humongous. The pancakes were bigger than my hand, and the Afghan eggs were well worth £7.50. You get two baked eggs in a mildly spiced tomato salsa served with toasted Abu Noor pitta.
It was wholesome, comforting and completely different to any breakfast I would usually order. Plus, is there anything better than mopping up sauce with bread?
While we tucked into our food, a queue started to form outside, and passers-by kept stopping to read the menu and admire the gorgeous plants.
We left with full tummies and smiles on our faces. If you’re a plant hoarder, a Bristolian foodie or a coffee connoisseur, The Crafty Egg is a café that I would really recommend.
Owner of The Crafty Egg, Ben Bennett, spoke to 2Chill about setting up the independent café, the evolution of selling plants, and the lengthy queues.
“I opened the café in February 2016 with the idea of selling craft beer and scotch eggs,“ he said. “It took quite a while to get an alcohol licence and to this day, we’ve never sold a scotch egg!
“I had no hospitality experience other than pot washing and the whole thing has grown organically.
“The current favourite on the menu is Afghan eggs. We donate £1 to a refugee charity for each one sold. Afghan eggs initially went on the menu after spending time with Afghan refugees in the jungle in Calais.”
Amid the global pandemic, The Crafty Egg evolved from a brunch café to a new greener space that also sells a selection of beautiful plants.
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“When we were emerging from the first lockdown, we heard that garden centres were allowed to open first – so we transformed into one,” added Ben.
“My brother who owns a nursery in Wiltshire gave me some great advice on how to avoid killing plants. He also supplied us with some important contacts and some beautiful plants to start us off. Without him, it wouldn’t have happened and the café wouldn’t be the space it is today.
“Instead of solely using glass and wood partitions to socially distance, we discovered that plants filled the gaps perfectly.
“We’ve learnt so much from the pandemic. Staff are so much happier with our reduced capacity and stress levels are far reduced with fewer customers. Everything works so much more smoothly now.”
While a lot has changed at The Crafty Egg in the last year, one thing that will stay is the decreased capacity.
“Plants are also here to stay,” Ben said. “We sell fewer these days but that’s a good thing because we get sad when people take them away.”
Ben has big ambitions to open more Crafty Egg branches across Bristol, but he’s found it “almost impossible” to find good venues.
“We’re seemingly always busy these days. On weekends, we can have queues 15 deep for hours on end,” he added.
“I’d say the one day that is consistently the quietest – but not really quiet – is Wednesday.”
If you want to get your Afghan egg fix and fill your home with greenery, visit The Crafty Egg at 113 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3RW.
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