Rhodes Bakery

Not as in Gary – or, even less comfortably, Cecil, Rhodes Bakery is the answer to quite a few Greenwich prayers – an artisan bakery. We (well, ok, I) have been whinging for one for ages – we have butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers – and several delis (I’m very much looking forward to testing out the cafe at the back of the newly-refurbed Salumeria) but have suffered a paucity of bakers. And no. In no way does Greggs EVER count…

I was highly excited to find out that Rhodes, which has been tucked away behind the power station for yonks and supplying restaurants and bakers in town, but, unless there was some secret back-door system I never knew about, didn’t sell locally. Now I notice there’s a sign outside the bakery itself and the swanky shop in College Approach is well and truly open.

It’s an awkward corner. Traffic whizzes past just that little bit too closely and there’s no real outside space – but on the other hand it’s clearly on view to all coming from the pier, the Cutty Sark and the ORNC. I love the natty canopies – they brighten that once-dead corner up before you even see the shop. I think – and hope it will do well. Let’s face it – from students, if nothing else. All sudents eat buns. It’s a fact.

Inside Rhodes is bright and modern, but with just enough cosy tradition to draw-in a greedy Phantom. A tower of muffins on a glass cake plate. Shelves of fancy breads, piles of scones and cakes, clouds of fluffy meringues in pink and white. Inside, there’s a big glass-fronted counter with larger cakes and flans, tartes and tortes. Shelves with jams and pickles, specialty teas and coffees (a big thumbs-up for Union Coffee Roasters coffee) and a big barrel of oil where you can fill your own bottle.

But what flew out at me most was the guy behind the counter (not literally – that would have been creepy…) His welcome was as fresh as the cream on the scones, and his enthusiasm belied the fact that I was there about 6.30pm and he’d been up since 4.30am. The place is open a punishing 7.00am-7.00pm and, for the moment at least, he’s there for all of it.

I haven’t tested everything there yet. Aw – c’mon – it’s only been open a couple of weeks. But what I have had has been extremely yummy. It has a few stools and a counter to sit at and stare out at the wheel, the ORNC and the traffic, and wonder just what those funky lamps are made of (I’m betting old salad-cream bottles) but I’d say this isn’t really a place to count on having a coffee and a bun every time. It’s just too small. There’s nowhere for them to spill out onto the pavement, and the stools – though perfectly adequate – are not for a reflective cuppa.

No, this is a place to buy lovely bread, gorgeous cakes and splendid buns. I haven’t noticed much ‘everyday’ bread – but given that I’ve never passed the place before midday (yeah, yeah, I’m a lazy old Phantom) it could be just that they’ve sold out by the time I’m up and about…

The guy told me they’ve been agonising over the prices – they want to make their goods special without frightening ordinary shoppers off. I’d be interested to hear your opinions. Personally I think £1.50 for an eat-in scone with clotted cream and jam is pretty damn good…

A word about the illustration for this piece. It’s by local artist and illustrator, Sarah McIntyre, who has a fabulous drawn blog here. There’s currently a long-running series based on the airship, but she often does Greenwich-y stuff. She also has a website that’s well worth a visit.I hope to feature more of her work here from time to time – she really makes me smile…

2 Comments to “Rhodes Bakery”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I've been feasting on Rhodes' breads and pastries for months now. Staff are mostly friendly – depending on how busy they are. However, there is one thing that's starting to put me off. One or two members of staff often handle food products with the same ungloved hands that they handle cash with. A real pity.

  2. kormachameleom says:

    But why do they use so much packaging for a small loaf of bread? Some sort of extra thick flour sack type thing. Awkward to fit in your bag and much too much paper, in my view. I’ve emailed them twice to ask how they justify this, but they didn’t reply. Irritating website too – very slow to load.