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The Artisan Baker
Good food and quirky décor in the heart of Woodstock
It’s a weekday when I visit which means convenient parking inside the Biscuit Mill. The Artisan Baker, which opened in April 2011, is just outside the popular complex on Albert Road and it’s where I’m headed for lunch and a chat with Ernie Seegers, the artisan baker himself.
Expect a European-style charcuterie and bakery filled with an assortment of decorations, posters and light fittings, which Ernie, an ex-art director, has been collecting for years. Many of the items come from sets he worked on during the 35 years he was in the film industry, before following his dream and opening a bakery. “This place has been coming a long time,” he tells me. “I’ve kept the wood-fire oven doors for the last 24 years.”
The aforementioned oven doors were one of the finishing touches to this bakery which Ernie and his friend, Lloyd Mututu, renovated mostly by themselves. For instance, the large black and white tiles on the floor took them three weeks to paint by hand. They also built the wood-fired oven, which is now used to bake the sourdough loaves—that they get up at 4am to bake every day.
Ernie isn’t a trained chef, “I read cookbooks like other people read story books. I don’t follow them exactly but I use them as inspiration.” One of today’s specials is an experiment of his; the supplier brought fresh peas instead of dried ones so he made a fresh pea and feta soup. Seasonal ingredients dictate the specials’ board while the menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, pies and pastas stays the same. Ernie also cures meat, which you can buy along with preserves, dried fruit and biscuits.
All this talk of food is making me hungry. A five-spice glazed pork belly sandwich with crispy fried onions and greens served with potato wedges and salad makes for a good lunch. Ernie describes it as “honest food made good” and that’s exactly what it is. The bakery is also known for its pies, “I didn’t think they were that special until people started raving about them. We use stone ground flour, salt, butter and fresh cream for the pastry.” I think that next time I’ll try either the Italian lemon chicken or a beef and burgundy pie, with the delicious-looking golden brown pastry.
“People told me I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I enjoy it.” Ernie and his wife Annie sold their house and moved in above the shop, “I’m never late for work...well actually sometimes I am,” he laughs. This is understandable considering the time they start baking.
By Lindsay Callaghan
The Artisan Baker
399 Albert Road | Woodstock | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 5293
Opening times: Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 4pm, Saturdays: 8am - 3pm.
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