Baker & Graze
Baker & Graze A restaurant bakery and coffee shop.
The Longer Read First of all, our score for Baker & Graze was recently ‘upped’. It’s time for us to order, and then eat, some humble pie.
On our first visit (which was probably a little too close to the opening) lunch was a bit of a dud. Several people, including @otteradrift on Twitter thought we should head back to try it again. And they were right. Furthermore, this became a principle that we’ll apply to future reviews. Less haste in writing a review, let a new business settle down and then check it out. As a result, it’s one of the reason we avoid ‘press nights’.
Baker & Graze is, we think, now properly up and running. The menu is always very interesting with its tinge of Mediterranean/North African spice. We first enjoyed a delicious lunch of Feta, Chickpea and Date Fritters (£6.00), plus an ‘on point’ dish of Nduja and Poached Eggs (£7.00). The dish of six fritters looks potentially a little heavy, but were not on this outing. The feta added some salty sharpness to cut through the oil and some leaves made you feel better about fried food – a lovely dish. So Baker & Graze goes up the rankings, as far as we’re concerned. Service was warm too. Other diners looked happy. The team at B&B is now properly on form.
As a takeaway (bread is on sale), we ate a brioche feuilletée. This was one of the best things that we’ve seen in terms of Cheltenham baking.
A third visit confirmed that things are going pretty well at Baker & Graze. The staff were friendly and we enjoyed a dish of Fennel Sausages, Curly Kale, Sourdough Toast & Anchovy Butter (£8.50). Good stuff on a cold day.
Consequently it’s official; we’re now fans of Baker & Graze.
Our Original Baker & Graze Review (just for the record):
Baker & Graze is a new venture, located in the Suffolks. It’s another in a seemingly endless procession of businesses named ‘X & Y’. Cheltenham already offers Brew & Bake and Sup & Chow nearby. Anyway: Baker & Graze bakes and sells bread, it’s a coffee shop and a restaurant.
To deal with the basics first. The bread on offer looked good (bags of Shipton Mill flour are left rather artfully lying around). The coffee was sound too. Much as you might expect given the name.
The menu intrigues, with lunch options such as Moroccan Lamb Shoulder, Babaganoush and Flatbread or Roasted Pumpkin with Ricotta, Malfati, Rocket and Parmesan. That’s on trend, but the misspelling of malfatti might be a symptom of lack of attention to detail. Just a small detail, but how the menu reads is all. The delivery at Baker & Graze may not match the promise yet. Malfatti, by the way are gnocchi-like dumplings. It’s a jokey Italian food word that translates as ‘badly-made’.
Our lunch order was a Pastrami Pickle and Cheddar Toastie. It had rather more pickle than pastrami. A dish called: ‘Spiced Cauliflower Slow Cooked in Yoghurt, Coriander & Pomegranate’ was next. A brown mound about the size of half an inverted grapefruit arrived. It was warm on one side, cool on the other, sitting in a pool of ?ghee. If there was any pomegranate flavour it hadn’t brought much to the party. And, surely, the only likely outcome of slow roasting yoghurt is that it will split? As a result, this was quite the most unappetising thing I’ve been served for a while (there was a tasty accompanying flatbread though).
Baker & Graze Style and Private Dining
The dining room itself is pleasant, with plenty of wood and exposed brickwork and concrete. This hipstery style is becoming de rigueur in such places. There are maybe 25 seats in all. There is a terrace to the rear and a private dining room upstairs. This is available for dining for 16. It seems like a nice space and would be a good party room. There are some banquette seats through the back.
Purely on the basis of this first visit, Baker & Graze is recommended for coffee, pastries and bread. In terms of the restaurant offer, do remember that it has only recently opened. Most of all, I would imagine that the food will improve – clearly there is ambition.
There’s a lot going on in the area if you’re a visitor – Champignon Savage and Tea at Ten nearby, plus interesting shopping. The ‘Suffolks’ is probably one of Cheltenham’s most most interesting off-centre areas to explore.
Opening Hours etc
Baker and Graze opens Monday to Friday (8am – 4.30pm). Weekend times are 8.30 to 5pm (plus 6.30pm to 11pm) on Saturdays and 9.30am to 4pm on Sunday. The owners run dinner and matched wine evenings from time to time, which usually sell out.
The cafe / restaurant have recently made it possible to book at lunchtime, by phone or email. I think the table to the right as you walk in are best.
Their wine list is quite cool, seems like an effort to represent a wide variety of grape varieties with a solid example. There are some funky options too. We were intrigued by an Armenian Zorah ‘Karasi’ from a 6000 year old winery. Baker and Graze describe it as ‘really very thrilling’, which kind of pulls you in, especially as it’s 14%. The winery is a village called Rind and the vines(a variety called Areni Noir) are ungrafted, since the area was phylloxera free. The winemaker is Italian, Alberto Antonini.