Best Part: The Bread!
One needs their wits about them when they enter Baked Nation. Here you are not allowed to consider the various options of the menu, ruminating over the relative merits of a sausage roll versus jam on toast. Before we had even started to consider such weighty matters, before we had even closed the door, we were being subjected to an interrogation about out purpose and desires.
‘Coffee?’ they barked.
We certainly did not want coffee, but felt the need to quickly qualify what we did in fact desire.
‘Anything else?’ followed quickly. And so we quickly scanned the wall-mounted menu to determine our desires, acutely aware of the penetrating gaze of the baristas on us at all times. We felt a bit panicky and hot and dare I say it, not very welcome.
To be fair to Baked Nation they get a lot of take-out business, and probably assumed we were there for that purpose, but it did lead to both of us slightly regretting our choices, which we might not have gone for otherwise. Anyway, at least it was all over with very quickly, and today’s rendezvous was by necessity a speedy one. In this respect Baked Nation were ideal as everything came to our table almost as soon as we had ordered it.
With the pressure on I reverted to form and went for a bacon sandwich. It was simple, bread butter and bacon as you would expect, no hint of brie or cranberry jam thought they did provide me with a catering size bottle of ketchup. I enjoyed the big bottle of ketchup, it made me feel like a ketchup king. I also enjoyed the bacon sandwich. The bread was absolutely gorgeous on its own, and when covered in butter melted with bacon ooze and a big splodge of ketchup it was as fine as a car parked outside of a marked bay in the Westminster Lodge car park.
Mrs Midweek Lunch ordered a goats cheese, eggplant and zucchini sandwich with caramelised onion. To English people, this was a grilled aubergine and courgette sandwich with red onion chutney. It was not the heavenly sweet caramelised slices of red onion she was expecting. However, she too had a superb experience with the sour dough bread and even ate the crusts which is unlike her.
We had some tea/hot chocolate, and as the lunch was delivered and consumed so quickly we decided we had time for something from their cake selection for finishes. We were planning to share something, but wife wanted Eccles Cake and I wanted Bakewell Tart, and as she is allergic to nuts and I am intolerant of anything or anyone from Eccles we each settled on our respective Northern towns. My tart was moist enough, but jam levels were minimal (it took me half a slice to find any) and it really was lacking the flavour of a good Bakewell Tart.
My wife had her Eccles cake at home later with three other people as it was extremely large. All four parties believed it to be a fine quality, in spite of it getting slightly squashed in her handbag. The pastry was gorgeously flaky and the middle sweet and tangy. All four parties wanted more of the Eccles cake but not four times as much. We conclude that the Eccles cakes are big enough to share and probably should be but if you are ever having a bad day and need a bun or something to cheer you up, pop into baked nation, have a giant Eccles cake and hang the consequences!
After the initial intimidation the service was smiley and friendly. It was a bit chilly in there, especially right at the back by the fridge. Also the tables seem roughly hewn from tree trunks which gives the place a nice rustic feel but means they are not much use for balancing your plate on (see illustration).
However there was a well-stocked book case and as you know books do furnish a room. Baked Nation certainly excel at baking, and I have been known to pop in on my way home for my Daily Bread. I would say, though, that like the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks if you face Baked Nation with imperfect knowledge of their menu options it will utterly annihilate your soul.