There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread as you walk into a bakery. Better still is clutching onto a warm loaf of bread the baker has just handed you to take home. Sadly though, there are far fewer bakeries around these days.
However, if you happen to live in or around Chelsea you can now pop into the newly opened Birley Bakery in Chelsea Green, in between Fulham and King’s Road, where you can choose from an assortment of exceptional breads, pastries and chocolates.
The person behind this new bakery is none other than Robin Birley, owner and founder of private members’ clubs 5 Hertford Street and Oswald’s.
The bakery is Birley’s latest venture and the realisation of a long-held dream to produce high-quality baked goods that have become a hallmark of his establishments over the years.
Chelsea Green is already home to several of London’s finest gourmet food stores, and at Birley Bakery you will find a wide range of breads, pastries, cakes, chocolates, ice creams and spreads, as well as coffee to take away. Step inside, and it reminds you of a contemporary traditional French boulangerie pâtisserie.
The bakery is a joint venture between Birley and Executive Pastry Chef Vincent Zanardi, who has worked with Birley since 2012. Zanardi has enjoyed an illustrious career, which includes the launch of Covent Garden’s L’Atelier de Robuchon with Joël Robuchon in 2006, and he currently works with Head Baker Eshak Belabed, who joined the Birley family in 2017 after honing his craft in kitchens in France, Austria and the Middle East.
So what can you expect to find in this new Chelsea bakery? Well, there are a selection of classic French treats that include croissants, madeleines and sablé biscuits, which are all baked on-site throughout the day, alongside some of Zanardi’s and Belabed’s original creations.
As you would expect, fresh bread plays centre stage to the bakery’s offering and includes delicious fresh sourdough loaves, seeded baguettes, olive bread, rye bread and tapenade rolls. You will also find some specialist breads, including a rich-fibre loaf, created with unsifted wholemeal flour, made using time-honoured techniques.
When it come to the pâtisseries, you can find a delicate, fragrant Tarte Tropézienne, a New York-style cheesecake with a mango glaze and Zanardi’s own interpretation of a banoffee pie, made with compote-soaked banana bread, vanilla salted caramel and a mascarpone Chantilly. There is also a selection of savouries like hot dog cravates and a vegan confit, onion quiche.
If you are a bit of a chocoholic like me, you’ll no doubt love the range of fine chocolates that include almond and popcorn dragées, fragrant orangettes and a fabulous selection of chocolates made with homemade pralines with matcha lemon, dark chocolate peanut and blonde chocolate dulce flavours.
Customers with special dietary requirements are also catered for, with a range of products including an innovative eggless flan, reduced-sugar lemon meringue tartlets and vegan chocolate-chip cookies.
Zanardi says of the new bakery:
“I’m hoping to create a warm and welcoming environment, inspired by the classic boulangeries pâtisseries I used to visit with my mother growing up in France. We’re creating a place that elevates traditional methods with new techniques and carefully sourced ingredients to create delicious breads, pastries, cakes and chocolates that will be available to everyone.”
While Birley adds:
“Twelve years ago, I met and began working with Vincent and in 2017, Eshak joined the team. Together, we have spent years looking for the perfect location to open our own bakery and are thrilled to have successfully found a site in Chelsea Green. We very much look forward to showcasing our truly exceptional products in a beautiful new space.”
Birley Bakery, 28-30 Cale Street, London, SW3 3QU, England.
The bakery’s opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 7:00am to 7:00pm and Sunday from 8:00am to 6:00pm. The closest Tube stations are South Kensington and Sloane Square on the Circle and District lines.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Birley Bakery