Best Part: The Baked Goods
Fair play to the Bakehouse, they have lasted longer than I ever thought they would in one of St Albans’ notorious ‘cursed restaurant spots’ (the other one being that one at the entrance to the Maltings that was latterly occupied by Phoenica). But here they still are, baking stuff without a care in the world. I’ll make it very clear that we are reviewing the upstairs Café bit, rather than the downstairs restaurant bit which we visited in the heady pre-blog days when we could eat food without having to have an opinion on it.
Mrs Midweek Lunch professed herself confused by the menu, which I could somewhat empathise with as in addition to the printed version there was a selection of sandwiches, salads and pastries on display at the counter. They used to put it all on a menu. We wondered why they had changed their strategy and decided that it would be better to either embrace the menu or the counter/chalk board fully rather than shilly shallying with a confusing mix of both. Anyhow, in spite of the confusion we did manage to place an order at the counter.
Playing the long game having seen the cakes on offer I went for ‘merely’ a bacon sandwich. It is a deep and profoundly fulfilling experience to have a simple food of which every element is virtually flawless, and this was the case with my bacon sandwich. The bacon was neither fatty nor crispy but salty and juicy. The sourdough bread was fluffy and soaked up the bacon juice to attain bready perfection. The ketchup was Heinz.
My wife went for a similarly simple cheese scone. It was large, warm and comforting with a pleasing tangy cheesy edge. As a side dish we shared an enormous salad in a white enamel bowl. It was big mess of chickpea and leaf with feta and butternut squash advertised but not terribly apparent. My wife was very keen on it. I found it pleasant enough and it gave me a slight glow of self-denial, but obviously suffered in comparison to it’s meaty unhealthy companion. But if filled stomach space at least.
But not too much, as we had room at the end to at least share a cake. Decision making was difficult in the face of the Oreo & Banana Loaf or the Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread, but we ended up with the White Chocolate & Cranberry Blondie. This was substantial and sweet, maybe a bit too dense.
Other than being built on an ancient voodoo burial ground, the Bakehouse has a superb location, especially for looking out of windows. From one side you overlook the Christmas Market and on the other we watched a dog amuse itself in the rain outside the comics shop. The inside is equally pleasant, boasting what Mrs Midweek Lunch describes as ‘Good Mid-Century Ambiance’ and playing music from the undisputed cultural high-water mark of the mid-90s.
It is certainly designed more for the lady half of humanity (even the babies present were all female), but as a fan of the show ‘New Girl’ I am no stranger to enjoying something that is obviously targeted to the other gender. Man or Lady, this is a lovely place to spend some time gazing out into the rain and eating slabs of bread.