THE only concession for this page to the lockdown is not to travel too far but I can report in miscroscopic local detail where there are vibrant examples of what will surely be a new culture taking shape. I have one this week and another next week, so we are not dead yet.
I am rather hoping that mom and pop style operations are going to survive this chaos, if for no other reason than mom and pop don’t really have anything else to do. Sable D’Or has soldiered on as if trying to nurture a queue as big as the neighbouring chemist shop or Tesco. Ours is in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, one of three in the group with others in Crouch End and Muswell Hill.
Such places start as retail bakery and confiserie, then realize like all the coffee shops, that a few tables and chairs were super profitable. But that has all had to stop. It is back to basics, but very very good basics. Another similar which is open again with a more Nordic slant is Fabrique.
For the moment breakfast is cancelled. Pancakes are terminated. So it is back to an honesty box in the corner, only two people allowed at a time, a table full of intelligent salads, and a window full of small tea-time cakes that bear the imprint of a master baker. The espresso machine survives, so it is shopping with coffee (and juice). That queue is growing. By way of validation I can offer photographic evidence of its quality from the local constabulary and witness testimony to the fire engine parked up outside too.
There is a choice of salads – three for £10 that usually feature a healthy slant in quinoa and kale or just roast potatoes.
Quiches also survive. Individual items of absolute excellence I could cite at random are the Viennoiseries, the brioche, the tarts all very high quality, with a bias towards apricot rather than chocolate which differentiates it from the excellent Paul (which has also reopened in Hampstead at least).
This photograph reminds me of one I took some years ago in Paris here. The comparison is not an exageration. You will be glad you supported them.