Food review: Baking hotspot is forging ahead

The Forge Bakehouse
AbbeydaleRoad
The Forge Bakehouse AbbeydaleRoad

In 2012 a small artisan bakery opened up on Abbeydale Road, the brainchild of Sheffield woman Martha Brown.

Five years and one location change later and Forge Bakehouse and Cafe is set for another major expansion.

The Forge Bakehouse
AbbeydaleRoad

The Forge Bakehouse AbbeydaleRoad

Owner Martha grew up in Sheffield and studied at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire.

The baker extraordinaire describes the last five years as ‘a steep learning curve’.

“Food has always been a big part of my life and it is fair to say I have become obsessed with bread,” explains Martha.

“I saw there was a gap in the market in Sheffield for bread.”

The Forge Bakehouse
AbbeydaleRoad

The Forge Bakehouse AbbeydaleRoad

Three years ago the growth of the business meant that Forge had to move to larger premises – to its current location a few hundred yards further up Abbeydale Road.

Next month the bakery and cafe will be expanding yet again with the opening of a 32-cover cafe.

“We will be expanding upwards,” says Martha.

“We will still have the small cafe space downstairs but there will be a separate space upstairs.

The Forge Bakehouse
AbbeydaleRoad

The Forge Bakehouse AbbeydaleRoad

“The downstairs cafe will do sandwiches and quick lunches while the new space upstairs will do bigger lunches and brunches.

“We are in the process of expanding our cafe because we currently can’t meet the demand.

“Not only will this mean we can cater for more people but it will also allow our chefs to have more room to do more things.”

As well as being able to expand their food menus the new bigger cafe is also licensed to sell alcohol as well as host two evening events a month.

The Forge Bakehouse
AbbeydaleRoad

The Forge Bakehouse AbbeydaleRoad

Martha adds that in the new year Forge will also start serving up roast dinners on Sundays.

“The food we create is things we think are really tasty.

“There are lots of different influences such as Middle Eastern, American and Asian.

“We always look to make everything from scratch and we like to know exactly what is in the things we are making.

“With bread in particular we like to give things time. This is why we make our bread over a couple of days, sometimes three days.

“This gives you so much more flavour and quality than bread that is rushed.”

Forge Bakehouse’s forthcoming expansion will see its staff numbers increase to about two dozen and Martha is quick to underline the importance of her employees.

“Our staff are a massive part of our success.

“I try to find interesting people to work here and they seem to attract interesting customers.”

“We have a lot of regular customers who have really invested in us and that is amazing.”

Currently, as well as a plethora of artisan breads and pastries, Forge Bakehouse offers up breakfast, lunch and all day brunches.

We called in late on a Thursday morning for some brunch and received a wonderfully warm welcome from front-of-house Erin.

The current menu is relatively succinct but there is still enough on to suit most tastes and moods.

There are French toast and baked eggs options, as well as granola and toast and preserves.

I was in need of a bit of a spice kick and was extremely tempted by the aloo sabzi (£5.50) – a Pakistani potato, spinach and tomato curry with mustard seeds, fresh ginger and coriander.

But in the end I plumped for huevos rancheros – a spicy Mexican breakfast made up of eggs, tomatoes, peppers, chipotle, coriander, lime, chorizo and cheese (£7).

My partner Tracy on the other hand went for French toast with spiced poached apple, toasted pecans, oat crumble, cinnamon mascarpone, maple syrup and bacon (£7.50)

While we waited for our food we both quaffed some rather excellent coffee.

When our food came to the table we were pleased to see that both plates featured very decent portion sizes.

My baked eggs came with a generous wedge of sourdough toast, perfect for mopping up all that lovely tomato-based sauce and runny egg yolk.

I have eaten huevos rancheros at a number of cafes and restaurants, and even made it myself at home, but I have to admit Forge’s version was easily the best variation I have tasted to date.

The dish was well seasoned and the balance of flavours was great, with the chunks of chorizo adding some good texture as well as a nice smokiness.

Tracy’s apple and bacon French toast was equally well received.

She described the dish as original and something she had not had before.

Both plates of food were completely polished off and we were both quite full by the end.

Given the quality and quantity of the food both dishes represented excellent value for money and it is no surprise to us that Forge Bakehouse continues to grow and grow.

n Forge Bakehouse, 302 Abbeydale road, Sheffield.

Tel: 0114 2588987