Restaurant Review #1: The E5 Bakery

May, sometime.

The first time I heard about this place, a friend just repeated the words “E5 BAKERY MATE, E5 BAKERY MATE” in my ear, which, funnily enough, made me not want to go there.

My first experience was a notable failure. I found myself stuck behind three females who arguing with the cashier about the benefits, or lack thereof, of multigrain bread. Two whole minutes passed before they finally conceded, just as I was about to tear my ears slowly off my face. They took the loaf from the quick-quipping bread broker — they were originally looking for sourdough which, predictably for Hackney, had already sold out by 1pm on that particular Sunday, and probably every other Sunday since records began. Unfortunately, when I tried to order my coffee I was politely told I was not in the right place and that I would need to go next door. Embarrassed, disillusioned, un-caffeinated — and also slightly confused as to whether he meant a rival cafe next door, or a subsidiary of the e5 bakery group — I stormed back to the flat for a cup of tea. The milk in the flat was gone off, whilst one could argue not directly the fault of the E5 bakery, they cannot escape being attributed at least some of the liability in this case.

I persevered with the E5 bakery, finding a small pocket of time one Tuesday morning to make my second attempt. It turns out they did have their own coffee shop, next door to their dedicated bakery. There was an incredible amount of people for a Tuesday brunch time. There were very trendy looking people everywhere; it was impossible to distinguish whether they were freelance, unemployed, or tourists. There were Mothers and prams and more mothers and more prams and somewhere there was a Father. Secondly, there was a surprising number of staff beavering away behind the till and in the back area — doing what exactly? God knows. It had a warm, welcoming ‘Santa’s Toy Factory’ feeling about it, his little elves beavering away to fulfil your yeast and caffeine dreams. How does it make a profit? Thats the miracle.

I am always anxious when walking into a cafe. Do I go up to the till or take a seat? Shall I pay now or pay at the end? If they charge me 2.60 are they expecting the 40p as a tip despite it being well over 10%? Such concerns whirled round my head as I told him I was sitting outside and he charged me 3.60 for a cwossont and a marky-arto. He politely (or mockingly) repeated my order back to me with the proper pronunciation. I felt like telling him were in England now pal, but he appeared to be equally, if not more English than me and I decided it wouldn’t be quite as racially intimidating. I said thank you very much.

As I sat outside, eating my cwossont like a football hooligan eats a sausage roll on a saturday afternoon, I was overcome with fear. What if I was meant to wait at the side of the till for the coffee to be made? What if its not part of his job to leave the till and bring a coffee outside? Three people had already walked in since and the queue was no doubt growing. How would he find the time to come bring me my coffee? He’d brandish me a lazy bum and I wouldn’t be able to show my face in there again. I decided not to look back into the shop and to plead ignorance if questioned. After three exceptionally long minutes, a sweatered, sweating lady burst through the door and plopped a coffee onto the table. “Is this for you?” she remarked disgustedly. ‘Yes thank you’ I said without looking up and she hurriedly went back about her business.

It was slightly cold and had too much milk for my taste, but I was alive and had yet again avoided another catastrophic coffee house confrontation. The sun had since come out like a brave, teenage, homosexual, and was no less fabulous. After calming down somewhat, I was able to reflect on my experience of the E5 bakery in a positive light, literally. It hadn’t all been so bad, and as a gesture of good will, I took my empty plate, saucer, and cup back to the till, where it was received with smiles all round. Thanks, E5, and what a journey.

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