Hart’s Bakery has rapidly established itself as synonymous with good cake, at least in Bristol’s speciality coffee circles, where it supplies many of my favourite Coffee Spots. What I hadn’t realised, until I visited it myself, is that it’s also a fantastic little coffee spot in its own right, serving its own amazing cakes, soup, toasties and pasties, along with great coffee from local roasters, Extract.
Another advantage is that it’s right outside Bristol’s Temple Meads Station, which is good news for coffee lovers since that area is not awash with great coffee. It’s an interesting space: located under an arch of Station Approach, the ramp leading up to Temple Meads, it has the feel of a large air raid shelter, probably due to the corrugated metal ceiling that lines the presumably brick underside of the arch.
The staff were very friendly, greeting everyone with a cheery hello as they come in. Sometimes you don’t want that, but entering such a large and open space, it makes you feel very welcome. Head baker, Laura [Hart], serves as well as baking, which all adds to the atmosphere, giving it a very communal feel.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Everywhere I went on my trip to Bristol earlier this year, I was bombarded by mentions of Hart’s Bakery. There was Laura Hart herself, tempting me with croissants on twitter, while others on that fine network threatened to disown me if I didn’t go. In Bristol itself, Hart’s was everywhere: cakes at Didn’t You Do Well, more cakes at Full Court Press, then my friends at Small St Espresso recommended a trip. What choice did I have?
Hart’s Bakery is both a café and a wholesale bakery. You share the space with kitchen and baker’s ovens. In that respect, it reminds me of Exeter’s Exploding Bakery, although the two spaces couldn’t be more different. Hart’s is much bigger for a start: you come in through the double doors at the front of the arch and the bakery runs away from you, a bit like a railway tunnel. There are two long, wooden trestle tables on the right, with bar chairs for seats, while on the left there’s a smaller table with three normal chairs (and a table outside). The cakes and savoury goodies reside in the middle of the room on a wooden island that would fit perfectly in the kitchen of my dreams. The espresso machine lives on a counter top that runs along the left-hand wall.
Just like the Exploding Bakery, Hart’s is a working bakery, so you can watch the maestros at work while you eat the output or sip your coffee. In common with the Exploding Bakery, the coffee is central to the business: the flat white I had was as good as they come and there were plenty of people coming in for coffee as well as for the cakes and savoury goodies. There was also a steady stream of customers coming for takeaway cakes, coffee and, earlier in the day, bread.
I was there for lunch, towards the end of Hart’s working day (it shuts at three). I had a Lancashire pasty (which, given I was in Bristol, I found mildly amusing). For those who don’t know (myself included), a Lancashire pasty has a cheese, onion and potato filling. It was very fine too, nice and filling, but not too heavy on the stomach.
I also had a flat white expertly made by Audrey (who has sadly now left) who turned out coffee that would grace any of the speciality coffee shops that Hart’s supplies. It was just what I want from a flat white: rich foam, but not so much that it swamps the taste of the coffee, which came through strongly.
Sadly I didn’t get the chance to sample any of the sweet things, but I did have one of Hart’s cinnamon buns in Full Court Press. This was absolutely divine: rich, light bread, with cinnamon sugar rather than the sticky, overly-sweet cream that you get in some supermarket/coffee chain offerings. I think it’s fair to say it was one of the best I’ve ever had.
One word of caution: Hart’s can be a little hard to find, it not being the sort of place you’d walk past on your way to anywhere. From the front of the station, there’s a metal staircase that leads almost directly to Hart’s: follow the excellent directions on the website.
|ARCH 35, LOWER APPROACH ROAD • TEMPLE MEADS • BRISTOL • BS1 6QS|
|www.hartsbakery.co.uk||+44 (0) 7968 220260|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Extract (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 15:00||Seating||Long Tables, Table (Outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 15:00||Food||Lunch, Cakes|
|Thursday||07:00 – 15:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 15:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 15:00||Wifi||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||30th April 2013|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol for more great Coffee Spots.
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