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  • Writer's pictureMarsh Farm Glamping

The Bridge Bakery & Canteen

Visit Somerset and Meet the Makers!


In the third of our interview series championing local makers, producers and suppliers, we meet Claire and Alan from the casually cool and effortlessly hip The Bridge Bakery and Canteen. Situated right next to Parrett Trail Bikes, in a gorgeous riverside setting, The Bridge should most definitely be on your hit list of places to visit when you come and stay. Not only do they have the most mouth-watering selection of bread, pastries and cakes on display when you walk in the door (their almond croissants are a must buy), but they also offer lunch, brunch and breakfasts. Combine this with their regular events, from live gigs to pizza evenings, and an ethos of sustainability, recycling and reuse, and you have a fabulous local joint to drop in and hang out.


I caught up with Claire to find out about The Bridge – how it came to be and all the little extras that they have on offer…




Hi Claire! Can you tell us how The Bridge came to be?

We have lived in the area for a very long time and have seen the building in various guises over the years. It was empty and sad for quite a while after the basket centre moved out and when it came up for sale we approached the landlord with our vision to turn it into a bakery canteen with an emphasis on all things local, with a strong sense of community and as low a carbon footprint as possible.

 

We sub-let one of the rooms to Tony & Sue from Parrett Trail Bikes to bring back bicycles to the building and connect it to the National Cycle Route and encourage cycle hire. 

 

We were keen from the outset to reuse and upcycle and so enlisted family and friends and built all the tables, benches and the counter ourselves, and we deliberately chose large tables to encourage informality and conversations with a home from home feel. 


That sounds like a real labour of love. What kinds of things do you serve and how much is made in house?

 We make everything in house ourselves every day, from our sourdough bread to pastries, cakes and all things in between. Our lunch menu is ever changing and deliberately small to keep it fresh and seasonal.



What is your brand ethos? Do you source much locally?

We have kept our suppliers as local as possible from the outset - our organic salad and vegetables come from Pitney Farm Market Garden and Plotgate. We have lovely ‘haloumi’ style Somerset cheese from Homewood Cheese and organic milk in churns from Bruton Dairy to avoid plastic bottles.

 

We avoid all single use plastic and don’t use clingfilm. Our drinks are also locally sourced with a wide array of different Somerset cider producers, wine from Smith & Evans in Aller, beer from Fine Tuned Brewery in Somerton and lager from the Quantock Brewery.

 

Tell me about Bring Us Your Glut!

Our lovely customers have really bought into this ethos and bring us their garden gluts. We use apples in the autumn for apple cakes and our Bridge Buns and they're the basis for our homemade mincemeat. Quince we make into membrillo to go into our goat’s cheese croissants. Plums, courgettes etc go into chutney, squash into soups…

 

You also sell stunning bouquets of locally grown flowers. Are there any other local suppliers whose produce visitors can pick up?

We supply glass bottles so customers can refill milk whenever they like. We are a hub for Plotgate veg boxes and offer a shop front for local flower grower Harriet of The Flowerer.

 

We love to offer space to local community groups such as the carers' group (who after a year of growing week on week have now moved to larger premises), a local art group, wreath making etc.



Tell us about the fab events that you host.

We are really keen to promote live music and entertainment so put on events in the warmer months for the spoken word, comedians and live music. All proceeds from the tickets go direct to the performers. We also open until 8pm on a Friday and fire up our hand built clay pizza oven in the garden for sourdough pizzas and flatbreads.

 

Are there any particularly memorable moments since you opened?

We have a wealth of memorable moments but the biggest must surely be Covid. We had been open for less than a year when it hit but we were very fortunate to be able to adapt and turn ourselves into a little shop. The localness of all our suppliers really came into their own because we were able to continue to support them and to get supplies when the supermarket shelves were empty. As we made everything ourselves we could provide all the baked goods, suppers and treats and when it was allowed, takeaway coffee. We bagged up flour every night and even provided sourdough starter for the big sourdough boom of the first lockdown! We adapted each time the rules changed and I think without being able to we would have really struggled because we were such a fledgling business.

 

Again in our first year, our alarm went off in the middle of the night and we rushed over to find the door had been forced open with a crow bar and intruders had helped themselves to our till. The alarm obviously panicked them so they took the whole till drawer which cost more to replace than the cash they pinched. Because the door was no longer secure and we couldn’t set the alarm we grabbed sleeping bags and spent the rest of the night there. We gave our baker Dean quite a fright when he arrived early the next morning for the baking to find two sleeping bodies on the floor! 

 

Do our guests need to book if they want to grab lunch or an early supper, or come to an event?

We are deliberately informal to encourage people to turn up and we will find them a seat. We only take bookings for large groups where we need to reserve a whole table. Music events are booked in advance and we do an ‘early supper’ option with every event.

 

Finally, what do you love most about our little slice of Somerset?

There are so many places to recommend in our lovely Somerset! Anything going on at Wick Farm - it is such a fabulous creative space, ditto Hatch Art Exhibition. There are cider cycle tours so you can visit all the cider makers - Bere, Harrys, Perrys, Burrow Hill. There are also lots of great events that go on independently at all these places. Eli’s is of course a must!



Huge thanks to Claire for telling us a little about The Bridge Bakery & Canteen and all they have on offer. As you can see, it’s not ‘just’ a fabulous bakery and canteen, but also a hub for local suppliers and producers. So if you stop by for a coffee, you can also pick up fresh milk, a loaf of sourdough or a beautiful bouquet of flowers to take home. They even have free parking on site.


Their next event is Gabriel Moreno and the Travelling Poets on the 13th July – ‘a live experience that has been described as ‘Taberna folk’ – at once both energetic and intimate, anarchic and absorbing’. Now that sounds like my kind of night out!

 

Do keep up to date with their news and events by following them on social media here…




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