Caroline Walsh opened Archipelago Bakery in December 2013, after a background that includes helping set up and working as head chef at Loudon's Cafe & Bakery, training at Bread Matters and a head chef role at the Fruitmarket Cafe. Now she works full-time selling her artisan bread, cakes and savouries to retail and wholesale customers, using organic Shipton Mill flour and local ingredients where possible – she uses extra veg in her carrot cake, sweet potato brownies and parsnip, maple syrup & pecan cake, for example, to add natural sweetness, and foraged elderberries and brambles when seasonal. Breads include several sourdoughs, olive oil focaccia with toppings like thyme and roasted mushrooms or black olive and rosemary, and the best-selling Combine Harvester seeded loaf. Walsh does a good range of vegan and free-from baking, including gluten and dairy-free bread, gluten-free brownies, sugar-free banana bread (made with agave syrup), lots of gluten-free cakes and some 'free from everything' options: a date and banana loaf, fruit cake or flapjack free from eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar and nuts. Local deliveries are made on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, or orders can be made any day for collection (bar Sundays).
This review is taken from the current (2016) edition.
There is something so welcoming about Archipelago Bakery. Perhaps those Georgian New Town windows, flooding the shop with brightness, or the crisp white woodwork and furnishings make the difference. Just as likely, it’s the heartwarming smell of bread baking that makes you want to linger long after finishing soup, cakes or a latte. More an artisan bakery with a café than a café doing home baking, Archipelago’s delightful owner/ lead baker Caroline Walsh is driven to deliver high-quality breads. Pain de campagne, miller’s sourdough with malthouse and seeds, spelt with courgette, reflect in their texture, crusting, and flavour the unmistakable results of a slow 24-hour rising process, a million miles away from supermarket bakeries. A regular turnover of continental breakfasts, vegetarian lunches of frittata muffins, stuffed baguettes and roasted vegetable salads, and afternoons of coffee and many cakes keeps tables humming and the takeaway service buzzing. A lovely addition to the neighbourhood.
- High point: Wonderful bread, baking and many gluten-free treats
- Low point: When they run out, they run out, so come early
- Notable dish: Miller's sourdough bread
- Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Children's portions, Wheelchair access, Outdoor tables, Free wi-fi
- Capacity: 10 (15 outdoors)
- Largest group: 4
- Open since: 2014