My work takes me to Bristol on a fairly frequent basis. As it happens, one of my colleagues studied and worked there for a number of years. When we first started working together she recommended that I pay a visit to Hart’s Bakery, it being close to the station I would arrive in. My appetite was whetted by tales of incredible sausage rolls, giant pastries and delicious cakes, but really she had me at “sausage”.
Problem is, its not in the most obvious of locations, sited in a railway arch underneath a ramp leading up to Temple Meads railway station. On my first visit since being told of this baking mecca, I walked down the main ramp to the station eyeing the various businesses in the arches – no Hart’s Bakery. On subsequent trips I explored the area further and even consulted the internet for guidance, but to no avail. I once found my way under a ramp, strolled passed a couple of eateries with building expectation, but ended up in a car park – wrong ramp.
But yesterday, I finally made it.
Was it worth the wait? Well, not initially.
With a hangover to settle, I opted for the special toastie – cheese and homemade sauerkraut. The constituent parts were all excellent – cheddar that oozed tastes of the West Country, a zesty sauerkraut that perfectly occupied the middle ground between too much and too little crunch and, of course, the bread, two well crafted slices of sourdough. It was even expertly toasted, a million miles from the literally, half-baked efforts most coffee shop chains churn out.
But all that artisan craftsmanship and locally sauced excellence was undone by the fact that it was simply too salty. The cheese, which would have been a delight with a slice of apple, was the chief culprit although excessive application may also have contributed. As an aside, a small glass of apple juice and a black coffee were refreshing and reviving respectively. But I left a little disappointed that the experience, having hyped it up in my own mind, had not been perfect.
Back on to the train then, a little more dehydrated than I would have liked, I arrived in Paddington two hours later. For me, Paddington is a nightmare to get to on public transport. Despite being a mere 9 miles away, it took four tube rides and over an hour and a quarter to get home, especially painful in 30 degree heat.
I was tired, hot, sweaty and annoyed by the time I got back but it was a Wednesday, so my wife was home with the kids. My spirits were lifted from the moment I walked in the door to a warm (in all senses of the word) reception, but my rehabilitation was complete when we sat down to lunch, my daughter at nursery, my son asleep. An egg and bacon muffin (note the absence of a “mc-” prefix) and a slice of coconut and raspberry cake had survived the trip from Bristol far better than me. They were all we needed for a light lunch that had us both purring with delight.
Now that was worth the wait.