Tucked in a railway arch under the carpark of Temple Meads Station, Hart’s Bakery greets visitors to Bristol - or bids farewell to those leaving - with a decent cup of coffee and exceptional baked goods. When I arrived in the city permanently on a dark January day, just a suitcase in hand, the bakery’s little glowing archway offered warmth, respite and a promise that Bristol’s food scene was a force to be reckoned with. In the intervening few months, Hart’s has become a regular in the routine of my life in this new city.
I often make the pilgrimage from work to the bakery for their daily lunch deal, whose details are tweeted each day at 11am. Perhaps a roast garlic and potato soup or red pepper and borlotti bean chilli - served with hunks of incredibly crisp-crusted sourdough. Better still was a rye bun filled with soft smoked salmon and chive-infused cream cheese, paired brilliantly with the earthy, mineral sweetness of a beetroot and fennel salad. It temporarily stained my lips and hands a deep pink, and left a more permanent mark on my memory as one of the finest sandwiches I have eaten.
Come Saturday, my boyfriend and I often order a loaf of Hart’s famous sourdough from the organic food shop near my house. You can find their bread in cafes and shops across the city or, of course, pick up a loaf directly from the bakery. Just make sure you arrive early for this bread disappears quickly, with the wholemeal and sesame sourdough proving particular popular among Bristolians!
And, if we’re travelling by train, we are always tempted to pass by Hart's for a snack to savour on the train. Pastries with layers upon layers of flakey crisp pastry, custard tarts, cheese toasties and pasties. Decadent Saturday bread infused with dark caramel or ‘wünderbuns’: croissant dough filled with chocolate and hazelnut and topped with swirls of caramel sauce. For me, though, there is nothing finer than tangy sourdough toast hidden beneath swirls of raspberry and vanilla jam. Sometimes a simple pleasure, such as toast and jam, brings the greatest joy.