As with all reviews of wonderful places to eat, I’m torn between preaching the good food word and not wanting too many people to know about it.
But overwhelmed by a certain truth (the fantastic foodie experience that is Bakers and Co.) I just can’t stop spreading the good news. Especially when I consider how resistant I had initially been to what I considered to be its uncertain charms.
Call it reparations but I need to pay my dues.
I didn’t like its branding I suppose – the fat, yellow letters, and, if I’m totally honest, I was ludicrously prejudiced against what I considered to be its pedestrian-sounding name. Bakers and Co. . I just didn’t fancy it. Looked plastic, too happy, sounded round in a roly-poly kind of way. As for all that San Francisco stuff, as I’ve never been, it didn’t mean that much to me. Every weekend Gabriel would suggest trying it out and I’d come up with an excuse. Then, one Saturday morning those excuses ran out.
And then, I ordered the breakfast.
My conversion was immediate. It really has to be the best breakfast I’ve had, possibly ever. It blew me away. It reminded me a little of Caravan, in Kings Cross ( more of that later).
Gabriel had the huevos rancheros – slow cooked pinto beans, with a corn tortilla, red and green salsa and fried eggs priced at £7.95.
As for me, I ordered the Bakers’ breakfast – a generous plate of dry cure back bacon, fennel and black pepper sausage, morcilla, fried duck egg, slow cooked pinto beans, thyme roasted mushrooms, red salsa and sourdough toast priced at £9.95.
We ate wordlessly but not silently, sighs of delight almost musical exchanged between us. The morcilla ( a sort of Spanish black pudding) was delicious and the red salsa was addictively spicy. When I finished it I just wanted more. Every element of this wonderful plate of food deserved my full attention – I had not realised that food enjoyment could get this good.
Gabriel and I both surfaced from the full-immersion eating experience just in time to say ‘Would you like a taste?’ allowed one another a taste swap just before it all disappeared.
And the coffee was excellent – strong but not bitter. How you imagine coffee should taste when you smell it but it invariably disappoints. Not this one. I would go back there for the coffee alone.
Gabriel was attracted by the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (£2.90) and when it arrived it looked so fresh and invigorating that I couldn’t resist – I had to order one too.
As for the interior – I take it all back. The moment you enter, the display counter offers up a table of delights – loaded with the most delicious sandwiches and cakes which look both indulgent and healthy in a Yottam Ottolenghi sort of way.
The space is compact, it’s true, but the decor ensures that you don’t feel squashed in. However, given the rise and rise of Bakers and Co. it’s a shame for both customers and Bakers and Co. itself that the premises aren’t bigger.
Bakers and Co. is part of a Bristol foodie revolution and is as good as anywhere I’ve been to in London. But it still keeps that Bristol vibe where the staff are laid back, helpful, accommodating and don’t rush you. That’s something to hold on to and celebrate. Look and learn Caravan.*
* Caravan, King’s Cross, open for brunch and dinner. Very popular. Good food, poor service.
LINKFILE and general information
Location 193 The Gloucester Road, Bristol BS7 8BG
Opening hours Tuesday – Friday 9-5, Saturday 9-6, Sunday 10-4 for breakfast, brunch, lunch, cake. Take-away cakes and sandwiches available.
Seating Inside L shape – tables for 2 flank both sides of long side of the L with larger tables at the front. There are also seats at the counter and several tables outside at the front.
Price – good value for money as the freshness and quality of the food is exceptional.
Two stars and a wish
the service – not to be underestimated. Pivotal in turning a great place into a really great place that you’ll keep going back to.the size – it needs to be much bigger. So disappointing when you can’t get in!