Review: Baker & Graze, Cheltenham

Salmon and fennel

Salmon and fennel

I’ve left Cheltenham now, and been living in Blackheath for a few months. Sadly there doesn’t appear to be any brilliant local place for lunch here; the best I’ve found is the local branch of Gails and an okay but pricey indie called Hand Made Food. Where is the Green Cafe of Blackheath? Where is the Baker & Graze?

Oooo. Baker & Graze! Cheltenham’s second finest and only a few doors down from Le Champignon Sauvage (Cheltenham’s finest). I can’t believe I never got around to writing a blog about them!

Baker & Graze have been in Cheltenham for only maybe 3 years now. They’re a cafe-bakery that nevertheless cooks up very real and brilliant one-plate lunches. Inside it is comfy, stripped-back brickwork & brass style, and quite often extremely busy. For good reason.

Let’s start with the baking. Probably the best sourdough loaf in Cheltenham (though they might have to fight for that prize with The Sandwich Box). But now let’s consider their sourdough doughnuts. So soft, yet so springy, with decadently generous fillings. I’ve taken boxes of these to parties and people have been talking about them a week later. Oooooooh… and how about a crisply flaky cruffin with a rich prune and chocolate interior. Lush financiers too. And I’ve only eaten a cinnamon roll to match theirs… once, maybe twice?

But it’s their lunches I love best. Plenty of great things on toast. An amazing slow-cooked Moroccan lamb with flatbread and scattered pomegranate. Splendid home-cured salmon with a fragrant and juicy fennel salad and a perfect poached egg hidden within. Or how about some real dedication to sourdough: pan-fried sourdough gnocchi? They came out like deliciously herby dumplings, crispy on the outside, soaked in a beautifully deep and rich venison ragu with a nice drift of parmesan on top. Now and again they also have an absolutely wonderful squid stew on.

They make a decent cup of coffee and keep a range of good quality softs and boozes to have with your food. Most of those lunches are around the £8-9 mark. I will be gobsmacked if you don’t love lunch at Baker & Graze.

Gnocchi and venison ragu

Gnocchi and venison ragu

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