Chef Adam Robinson has become synonymous with artisanal bread. Working from a very limited space in the back of the Glenwood bakery, and starting from 3.30am, Adam and his team prepare breads made from locally milled, unbleached stone ground flour and their aged mother starter.
What started out as just a bakery, one that served coffee and simple but beautifully prepared poached eggs and a few small items for breakfast, has expanded to much more to meet increasing demand. And it's not hard to see why.
Between 10am and 3pm you can snack on gourmet sandwiches, filled to bursting with fresh ingredients like Midlands cheeses, roast tomatoes, aubergine, cold chicken, hard cheeses, served on rye, ciabatta or rosemary and potato bread.
In summer, there's ice cream, made at the Bakery. From the simple and creamy vanilla, freckled with the pod seeds, to chocolate malt, salted caramel or a grapefruit sorbet.
Two nights a week the bakery opens in the evenings for pizza and burgers. The pizza bases are all baked in the same oven that the bread is made in, and the topping combinations are both uncomplicated and heady. Ranging from a basic margherita – which is worth ordering because simple is what Adam does best – to gourmet, such as artichokes, anchovies, parmesan and fresh basil and rocket. The prices are very reasonable, with very few items ever over R70.
Coffees are brewed from beans sourced from the city’s micro-roasteries, and teas are loose leaf. Juices are freshly squeezed.
Orders are placed at the counter and waiters serve the food. The setup is efficient.
It’s a casual affair, with a few tables inside, including a long communal table, and stools and tables propped up against the bakery window. There are tables and chairs arranged on the sidewalk outside and it’s a relaxing, continental pavement café ambience.
The pizza evenings are on Monday and Tuesday nights and patrons are encouraged to bring their own tipple, whether it is wine or vodka. There is no corkage charged.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.
Chef and owner Adam Robinson has worked in critically acclaimed restaurants in France, London and the Midlands since 1991. His bakery is renowned for the incredibly delicious breads he bakes. From baguettes, corn flour, homemade sourdough, batard, and ciabatta to English mill bread, it’s all fantastic. The menu is smallish, but the quality and combination of ingredients used certainly makes up that. Standouts include the burgers – like the ciabatta roll with homemade beef burger patty, lavished with onion marmalade and aioli, truly sublime. Also worth shouting about is the Mediterranean flat bread wrap with slow roasted lamb, hummus, tzatziki and rocket. Finally, a crisp pizza base with interesting toppings like chorizo and sautéed potato is quickly polished. Prices are very reasonable. Note that they’re also known for their homemade ice creams – we tried the salted caramel and believe me, it will have you licking your spoon. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, Adam runs dinner specials.
A simple drinks list holds fresh juices and coffees. The venue is not licensed, but Adam encourages his patrons to bring their own wine, with no corkage fee charged.
Staff members are friendly, informed and well trained. This is a self-service joint, to a degree – have a look at the menu on the black boards, place your order and the waiters will bring the food to the table.
It’s a small space, seating ten inside the bakery, and with counters and bar stools set up against the two long windows. There’s also a couple of tables set up on the sidewalk. The atmosphere is very laid-back.
Get there early for the early week dinner service, as it fills up really quickly.
Adam Robinson hung up his chef whites to pursue his love affair with bread – and he’s really committed: he personally makes it daily. Breakfast is a simple pastry affair, although on weekends the repertoire includes eggs Benedict and eggs royale.
Uncomplicated lunch offerings showcase artisan breads and change according to mood and season. You could stumble upon ciabatta topped with goat’s cheese, roasted tomato, olives and rocket; a baguette with coppa ham, avo and butter lettuce, or a hot dog with a twist – a boudin blanc sausage on a mini ciabatta). And then there’s Adam’s range of ice cream made the old-fashioned way in flavours from choc mint to ruby grapefruit sorbet. Monday is pizza night, when you can choose from a margherita, veg or meat option and load it up with your own selection of extra toppings.
Daytime dining means great coffee (with beans from neighbouring roasteries), homemade ice tea, freshly squeezed juices and Spanish hot chocolate. They are not licenced, but on Monday nights you can bring along your own wine and glasses.
Despite a small staff complement, service is fast and personal. The open-plan interior means that diners can watch their food and drinks being made to order. A handwritten docket is placed on the table with a note asking you to settle up at the till.
Double-volume windows bathe the rustic bakery in natural light, and counters set up along these windows offer a vantage point from which to view the neighbourhood. Alternatively, pull up a chair at the central communal table and peruse the wall-mounted chalkboard menus. It’s a working bakery, so expect shelves of bread and bags of stoneground flour lying on pallets on the floor. Forage in the bookshelf for recipe books to read or board games to play.
Bread sells out fast, but you can make a prior reservation to ensure you don’t go home empty-handed.
(Tracy Gielink, July 2014)
Adam Robinson is one such fanatic and his Glenwood Bakery, which opened in January, is Durban’s destination du jour. His tour de cuisine has taken Adam from his native England to the KZN Midlands (where he opened The Corner Post restaurant after deciding to “retire” from his busy restaurant life in London) and, finally, to a quiet suburban street in Glenwood. “I started baking because I didn’t have a particularly good time with the restaurant, cooking the sort of food the great and good people of Howick wanted me to cook for them. I entertained myself by getting into baking then and found people liked my bread. I put a chef in the kitchen and ended up with a bakery and supplying bread out the back of the kitchen,” he says.“I now want to be more production-based rather than retail-based. Three ingredients – water, salt and flour – and the variations you can make with those are amazing.”Five different breads – ciabatta, baguettes, potato and rosemary, rye and seed sourdough and whole meal sourdough – plus one special bread are produced daily along with grissini, croissants and pain au chocolat. Adam’s next mission is to introduce a bagel.Breakfast is quite simply toast or croissants (while they’re still available) and, on Saturdays, eggs benedict and eggs royale. Lunch segues into a slightly bigger menu with three sandwich options. Their hot dog is a boudin blanc boiling sausage on a mini ciabatta or baguette served with good mustard.Given the bakery’s popularity, Adam says he has been talking about perhaps extending the menu. “Part of the reason for me baking is to bake, not to have a pseudo-café or pseudo-restaurant,” he says adamantly, before conceding, “My wife and I are quite restless people; very enthusiastic and we talk a lot about ideas. Things won’t stay the same!”To the backdrop of blues or perhaps a classical overture, and with just one assistant on hand, Adam lovingly handcrafts an array of bread and stubbornly refuses to increase production at the expense of quality.""I would like my breads to be better, not more. I have increased my production as time has gone but I want to get more adept, experiment different folding techniques, slow fermentation, quick fermentation..."" Adam muses. After walking to work, Adam's 13-hour day begins at 3am and he adheres to a bread timetable that customers have come to plan their day around.How would Adam describe the perfect loaf? “First of all, a perfect ciabatta is different to a perfect baguette. I’ve never eaten a perfect loaf but it should have deep flavour in the crumb and deep flavour in the crust. It’s not about the flour being stronger; just a long, long flavour.”
In keeping with the ""less is more"" mantra, the bakery serves a great coffee blend (from nearby [Colombo Tea & Coffee Co.](eatout.co.za/Stores-Markets/1044/Durban/Tea-coffee/Colombo-Tea-and-Coffee ""Colombo Tea & Coffee Co."")) and freshly squeezed orange juice.
It’s all very casual here. Catch the waiter as they walk past – and they’re always circulating in the small space – or order directly at the counter. Staff members are friendly, gladly make recommendations and will also talk you through the baked goods for taking home.
The bakery has a homely feel: the interior is dominated by a communal table; a book case holds recipe books and some board games; and, in a determined effort not to evolve into a restaurant, there is a small open-plan kitchen and bakery.
If you're inspired to go home and bake your own, you can buy flour and Adam's sourdough mother culture, which is used in most of their breads. (Tracy Gielink, July 2013)