New to me last week but familiar to the lucky people of East Finchley since 2016 is Margot Bakery. Created on the site of a former post office, this is the sort of place where you want to lock down a table in the corner and work your way through everything residing behind gleaming glass panels, dappled with gentle sunlight. Beautifully tiled floors take me back to the Lisbon pastelarias where I cultivated a love for sticky, flaky, burnished pastel de natas last year, shelves of takeaway baked goods hint at a future where the shop element may grow to match the bakery & staff have an easy relaxation about them that drifts through the air alongside puffs of steam scented with dough & spice.
Created by Michelle Eskeri out of a love for the communal power of bread and a desire to share it with others, everything here is baked on site throughout the day, everything stems from sourdough beginnings and everything is delicious.
Like properly, does-your-soul-good delicious. Breakfast, taken inside on a raw February morning, was syrup soaked & baked brioche, stuffed with frangipane & homemade blackberry jam and capped with toasted almonds & the softest-spring-rainfall of icing sugar. Crispy and squidgy and full of splendidly sharp, sweet, fruity, rich & luxurious flavour, this alone will have me returning for a repeat eat.
Tahini cookies are delightfully freckled with sesame seeds and pack a punch of savoury flavour that’s somewhat surprising given the lightness of the texture. Crumbling as you bite and disappearing into a gorgeously fragrant cloud of salty nuttiness in your mouth, these clever cookies jump on board the tahini trend & take the wheel for themselves.
Sourdough loaves proudly line the shelves like expectant Academy Awards backstage at the Dolby Theatre and I’m not ashamed to say I was flat-out envious of the man in front of me who ordered 8 to take away. What is it about freshly baked bread that can turn the best of us into potential stalkers?
I took a still-warm ‘Margot’ loaf home with me and ate slice after slice with unbridled delight as the darkly coloured, lightly textured crumb turned slick with salted butter under my fingertips. The promise of a wild garlic version on coming weekends is hard to resist…a friend who exclaimed excitedly that she lived only 5 minutes round the corner from Margot may regret sharing that small detail when I start a new tradition of the ‘What-I-Want-This-Weekend’ list each Friday afternoon going forward.
Apparently a girl cannot live on sweet treats alone…?
Oh, I don’t know, someone told me that once and I’m honestly not sure why we’re still friends however, I am willing to concede that the only thing as good as flawless sweet pastries are equally faultless savoury ones. Try one here, prettily hand rolled and stuffed with potato and wild garlic & sunflower seed pesto. Given the hearty, comfort food, hibernation vibes of their main filling they are astoundingly light & alarmingly moreish. I bought one to share with my other half…I personally don’t think anything is evidence of love & commitment more than the willingness to give up baked goods. He knows this but thankfully still chose to put a ring on it. Woop woop…#97daystogo!
2017 suggested it was on the way but 2018 has full-on proclaimed itself as the year of the babka with a defiant, floury-fisted thump on the mixing bowl. Lists proclaiming the best in London are popping up like heads in an open plan office when a box of biscuits are opened and the sweet-though-sometimes-better-when-savoury Eastern European loaf is decorating parchment paper lined baskets all over the capital.
Chocolate, cinnamon & tahini were on offer the day I went…firmly muzzling my inner piglet who obviously wanted all of them, I took just a single plump slice of the tahini marbled version away with me. Soft & deep with a softly sheened crust, it was the perfect 3pm pick-me up because clearly the brioche, the cookie & the pastry had failed to fill the cavernous void that is my stomach. Side note – is there a Betty Ford clinic for tahini lovers as I feel a stint there may be required by the end of the year.
London’s always had more than its fair share of bakeries but the fresh rise of artisan bakers on the scene means that a lot of them are gonna have to seriously think about upping their game if they want to survive. Margot may not be on my doorstep – although two buses there & back is unlikely to stop me making a reappearance for that babka – but her card has been soundly marked as somewhere worth journeying to in the name of all that is sourdough & delicious.