Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Raab's Bakery Islington Essex Road - a heavy dose of nostalgia

Before the likes of Euphorium Bakery comes along, bakeries as we know it used to be just more on the bread and less of ambiance and cappuccinos. In fact, most would house their ovens right at the back of the shops. More often than not, the actual baking area would occupy almost the entire shop floor with only a narrow area up front peddling the finished products.

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Then come the high street stores with hundreds of varieties of bread, pastries and cakes, all accompanied by beverages with countless ways of making them. One morning, you could go with a slice of cheesecake downed with a single espresso, and the next day, you could do with a chocolate fudge cake with a large cappuccino. Settle yourself down on a plush chair and have the complementary newspaper spread in front of you. Eating yeast risen flour suddenly become a lifestyle and we fell in love with the high street bakeries, thus signaling the demise of the local bakery.

The familiar face behind the counter is replaced by a uniformed staff on a shift, loafs of white fluffy bread have been supplanted by artisan breads that cost a few times more, friendly banter over the counter have been replaced by a methodical "Next!". For a number of us, the allure of the local bakery remains.

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That probably explains by Raab's Bakery along Islington Essex Road is always busy throughout their opening hours. To think that all this time, I have never found any good reason to venture beyond Islington South Library and missed the little gem, which is barely 50m further along the road.



Raab's Bakery reminds of the old styled bakeries from our childhood memories. Slices of sponge cakes with tacky icing on them, sugar coated doughnuts and chocolate chipped coated ones too, not to mention crudely baked custard pasties and even one simply named "Mini pastries" with no other descriptions whatsoever.

I love it.

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Wife can't stop talking about Raab's Bakery. We returned to the bakery thrice in two days. The obsession is for good reason too. Not only it reminded us of the bakeries when we were kids, the prices are hard to beat. Gingerbread men are going for 50p for half a dozen (you read that right), doughnuts going from 50p each, a loaf of walnut bread for just £1.58 (the loaf that we carted back tasted heavenly), the mini pastries mentioned above at 6 for a quid. That's hard to beat.

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Wife and I went back again today to stock up some doughnuts and I was busy taking some photos for this post just outside the shop. A staff noticed that and exclaimed,"Look! Someone's taking photos! There, there, do you see him? You (beckoning to another staff) might want to clean yourself up a bit lest you appear in the photo!"

I think we have found another reason to remain in Islington.

Thanks to MC and SP for telling us about Raab's Bakery, and sharing the sugar coated doughnut. Do you have a favourite local business (baker, fishmonger, clobber etc.)?

Raab's Bakery
136 Essex Road, Islington
London N1 8LX
Opening hours: 
Mon-Fri 6am till 6pm
Sat 6am till 5pm

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