/ 24 September 2023

Artisanal bakery in Glenwood has everything your soul kneads

Glenwood Bakery (1)
Kneaded: Justin Lagesse, who manages the Glenwood Bakery, keeps the food simple and classic. Photos: Rogan Ward

Durban’s Glenwood Bakery is — unsurprisingly — all about the bread. 

For more than a decade owner Adam Robinson and his team have been producing top-notch artisanal breads seven days a week.

There is an impressive list of daily offerings: potato and rosemary; wholemeal sourdough, gluten-free sourdough and a 40% rye, along with an array of crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-within baguettes and demi baguettes, simits and bagels, olive rolls, batards and ciabattas.

The bakery also produces a rotating menu of special breads, which range from onion and bay on a Tuesday to challah, focaccia slices and stout sourdough on a Friday and Greek olive bread and oat porridge sourdough on a Sunday.

Aioli, hummus and ricotta are all produced on site, made from scratch with zero additives — no preservatives, stabilisers, colourants — while cold meats, eggs and dairy products are sourced from local suppliers.

But the bakery, deli and café is also very much in the breakfast and lunch game — along with Monday and Friday pizza and burger evenings every week — producing food which is every bit as authentic, wholesome and tasty as the breads.

Breakfasts start with sourdough toast and house-made jam or marmalade; pastries — the profiteroles are a mouthful of chocolaty, buttery, creamy heaven — oats, granola and avocado on toast. There is also a range of breakfast dishes built around bread and free-range eggs: eggs benedict made with coppa ham and a bagel; dippy eggs boiled for two to three minutes and served with Marmite toast.

The full bakery breakfast, complete with pork sausage, crisp pancetta, curried beans, oyster mushrooms and roast tomatoes — and, of course, toast and eggs — closes the breakfast menu; along with four toasted sandwich options, two with meat, two vegetarian, all bangin’.

Lunches, on offer from 11am, go from the soup of the day (with toast) through a quiche of the day with salad to the bakery hamburger (house-made beef patty or Thai chicken fillet on a sourdough bun with aioli, onion marmalade and butter lettuce) and potato gnocchi with peas and bacon or tomato and Parmesan or the house-made pasta of the day.

Daily pizza options include a basic margherita, with or without pepperoni; Siciliana, a doctrinaire savoury Margherita with capers, anchovy and olives and a personal favourite, and a lahmajoun, an Armenian pizza with spiced minced lamb, minted yoghurt and herb salad.

Pudding changes every day, along with a range of home-made ice creams and sorbets, all produced in the store, which are also available for takeaway.

General manager Justin Lagesse says Glenwood’s philosophy is to keep things simple and classic and to waste nothing.

“Anything that we can make ourselves, we do. We don’t outsource very much at all. The stuff that we do, we try to source locally,” he says.

“It is a bakery in the French tradition, where nothing goes to waste. We make our own aioli, and the egg whites go into meringues. We minimise waste and maximise profits.”

Robinson and his team baked and cooked their way through Covid in 2020 — their essential services status allowing them to stay open throughout the lockdown — adding locally grown fruit and vegetables and cooked dinners to their existing eggs, cold meats, dairy products and hand constructed condiments.

Leaven: Michael Rorich is the head baker of the Glenwood Bakery. (Rogan Ward)

They also gave locals a place for a socially distanced chat, coffee and a takeaway dinner, along with a loaf of Glenwood’s finest to break the monotony of lockdown — and in many cases a first taste of artisanal bread.

When the city burned in 2021, they kept on baking — one positive about having the Umbilo police station as a neighbour — with the bread queue snaking along Esther Roberts Road all the way to Albert Dlomo Road.

In the process, they expanded the Glenwood shop, added to the menu and opened a satellite bakery — and a bagel shop of note — across town in Morningside.

Lagesse believes the challenges thrown up by the lockdown and the July 2021 riots also provided them with new opportunities — and new customers — by introducing locals to a bakery many would have previously walked past on the way to buy bread at the supermarket.

“People were awakened to something that is not your precut, monoculture product that is out there,” he says. 

“We have been able to get through a difficult time and make something good out of it.”