Glenwood Artisan Bakery.
By Mia McCarthy.
Cape Town wins a lot of praise over its world-class coffee culture and bustling cafés – unless, of course, you are a non-cycling pedestrian and the café you would like to patronise is a Bootleggers. As one who left Durban for the undeniable allure of Cape Town, however, I must confess that I am privately comparing every local coffee-and-croissant stop to the blueprint of my East Coast youth: the incomparable Glenwood Bakery.
There are few pleasures which match that of unwrapping a freshly baked loaf of bread from its brown paper casing. A loaf of potato bread which is only a few hours out of the oven generates its own heat from the inside, slowly warming the car seat on which it rests until the interior is blooming with the scent of warm crust and rosemary.
I have come to know this pleasure thanks largely to the daily efforts of the Glenwood Bakery, a stalwart local favourite in the neighbourhood. The bakery is run by master baker and restaurateur Adam Robinson, a tall and gentle man with an enviable command of culinary skill. To visit the Glenwood Bakery is to sample the world from a humble corner on Esther Roberts Road. Over a cortado, one might make a culinary stop at the Parisian stock market with a financier, pop into Russia with a smoked salmon blini, and finish off on the cobbled streets of Rome with a lemongrass sorbet.
If one is especially lucky, one might enjoy a constitutional espresso at 7AM on a Monday morning and find oneself back at the Bakery sipping a glass of warm merlot on the stoep twelve hours later for dinner. On Monday evenings, the Bakery serves pizza. When I think of a bakery near me, a jolly assortment of long tables and chairs appear on the pavement outside the bakery, and the outskirts of the bakery quickly fill with gregarious Durbanites bearing their own bottles of wine. Save for the inescapable balm of Durban humidity, one might reasonably mistake the experience for an evening of fine bistro dining in France. The pavement comes alive with the steady music of genial chatter, corks are squeezed out of bottle necks, and the heady perfume of slow-roasted tomatoes clings to the heavy coastal air.
Thankfully, the Bakery’s talents seem only to be expanding. As well as serving pizza once a week at the original premises, Glenwood Bagels has opened in a charming location under Ike’s Books. Although build-your-own menus tend to be overwhelming, this one is structured with the same bare-bones efficiency as the Glenwood Bakery’s menu. A snappy waiter memorises a series of numbers and, several minutes later, a lovingly misshapen bagel will appear before you, laden with an assortment of pickled items and salt beef.
For all its worldly stylings, however, the real star of the Glenwood Bakery table has always been Adam’s bread. To sit at the Durban bakery is to get a real sense of the internal timekeeping of the neighbourhood. For sourdough bread and rye bread, the early risers flock to the well-stocked shelves just after dawn. Ciabatta bread arrives fresh from the oven a little while later, at about 7.30AM. In classic French fashion, the bâtard arrives late at 9.30AM. This is an ancient practice: buying real, artisanal bread from your local baker. Italian instrumentals on the speakers fill the rare quiet moment. Tomes on classic cooking weigh down the shelves, which are always dusted in a fine film of baking flour. A display of classic pastries and breads adorn an emerald-tiled counter like boats on the Caspian Sea. Flourishing herb gardens perfume the pavement, as well as the precious breads themselves. There is no doubt about it - between two cities, this is the crust that I trust.
The Glenwood Bakery
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