palate cleanser

Pomme Bakery

Hoxton, E2

Pomme Bakery opened last August to very little fanfare. Despite a nice spot on Kingsland Road in Hoxton, when I walk in one Saturday morning it is close to empty. The room feels sparse and everything a little too spaced out, like it’s aiming for a minimalist Shoreditch vibe but lacking the clean edges. It also has the feel of a coffee shop rather than bakery; perhaps there are not enough pastries and loaves on display. I think there’s a chicken-and-egg conundrum with filling shelves and counters with pastries: you need them to bring people in but you need people coming in to justify baking in those quantities.

But I’m not here to rate the interior design choice. I’ve heard whispers of very good pastries, all handmade by Ivie Egonmwan, the sole baker and owner here. I get a coffee to have in and a selection of pastries. The plain croissant is crisp and flaky with little bubbles on the skin from the heat of the oven. There are bitter notes from the dark bake which add depth and counteract the pleasingly sweet, milky flavour inside. Next is a twice-baked coconut and pistachio pain au chocolat. This isn’t a flavour combination I’ve seen in a London bakery before; there’s a tropical edge from the coconut which brightens my winter blues. It feels original and comforting at the same time, it’s delightful. A slice of banana bread is moist and extremely generous in portion size with an added spiced crumble topping for a bit of crunch and texture.

As I dig into a quince tarte tatin the bakery picks up a little, with a gaggle of 5-a-side players coming in to share an almond croissant post-match. I welcome the injection of energy from the sweaty group. The tarte tatin is joyous: glossy and sticky, the caramel edging on bitterness with the fruit and pastry beneath both cooked to perfection. Ivie clearly knows what she’s doing, making each pastry with precision, creativity and some of the best ingredients available.

I’d say the quality of the pastries equal some of the best in London, yet as a business it feels a bit shy. Some coffee shops bake one loaf of banana bread a week and brand themselves as a bakery, whereas Pomme feels like it is doing the opposite: an artisan bakery disguising itself as a coffee shop. On first look this could be any of hundreds of coffee shops in the capital ordering in half-decent pastries from the same three wholesalers. This bakery is so much more. The current hospitality market is full of slick PR campaigns, viral products and precisely curated, instagrammable interiors. Leaning into some of those frills might be a necessary evil to get people through the door, but when they do I am sure they will keep coming back again and again.

68 Kingsland Road
E2 8DP

March 2024


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