A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Blanche – a new vegan bakery and coffee shop that had opened up in Roath to rave Twitter reviews.
Ravenous after getting up at an ungodly hour to take part in Connie Fisher’s BBC Radio Wales Sunday programme (and lured in by snaps of delicious-looking donuts on Instagram), I decided today was the day to try it for myself.
So what’s the story?
Blanche bakery was set up by Amy-Rose Hopkins and Remed Aran, two friends who started out baking vegan cakes for other coffee shops around the city. With big dreams to open their own place, they took out a business loan to cover the set-up costs, then ran a crowdfunding campaign to finance the rest. They finally opened the doors in late 2017, and the names of everyone who helped make it happen are now framed on the bakery wall.
Blanche is situated on Mackintosh Place, in an area of Cardiff densely populated by students. It’s also a stone’s throw from Milgi restaurant, another of Cardiff’s most popular meat-free haunts – which makes sense, as it’s young people who are driving the rise in vegan eating across the UK. In fact, one poll estimates that over half of all vegans are aged 15 – 34.
What does the bakery look like?
The bakery is pretty unremarkable from the outside – simple white signage and big glass windows that get steamy against the cold January air. Inside, there’s a scandi-chic aesthetic; whitewashed walls create lots of light and space, whilst a wall of greenery near the window is the most striking feature. Nestled amongst the foliage is an uber-trendy neon sign which reads, “But first, coffee” – a feature that’s proving to be irresistible to anyone with an Instagram account.
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At the moment, the rest of the walls are bare which I think feels a bit too stark, but I did spot some framed posters and photography propped up in a corner. I hope the plan is to hang these up – I think it’ll make the space feel cosier and a bit more ‘finished’.
What about the food?
Blanche specialises in a variety of vegan sandwiches, cakes and donuts. Every day the selection is slightly different because fresh batches are made each morning and throughout the day, dependent on demand.
This Sunday had clearly been a busy one as I just managed to snap up the last ‘chickn mayo’ toasted sandwich to go with my oat milk latte. I have no idea how they make the ‘chickn’, but if I hadn’t known this was an 100% vegan cafe, I would have sworn I was eating proper chicken & mayonnaise. It was lush.
Whilst the sarnies are good, the stars of the show at Blanche are most definitely the vegan bakes – cupcakes, donuts and beautiful made-to-order occasion cakes (check out their Instagram to see some of their creations).
I chose a salted caramel donut, whilst my mum opted for the ‘french toast’ version, topped with fresh berries; I think she was hoping it would count towards her 5-a-day. Both were bloody delicious – soft, doughy and not too sickly-sweet like the glazed, sticky versions you get from Krispy Kreme. These are far better.
How much does it cost?
The donuts cost around £2.50 – £3 each, and generally, the prices are similar to any high-street coffee shop. We ordered 2 x ‘chickn mayo’ toasted sarnies, 2 x oat milk lattes, 2 x donuts, an americano and an oat-milk cappucino, and in total, the bill came to £24. When considering the fact that this is an independent business, using (often more expensive) vegan ingredients, and that these bakes are lovingly created fresh each morning, I think the prices are pretty reasonable.
In a nutshell I’m really jealous that Amy and Remed chose Roath (and not Canton) to set up Blanche Bakery. Their bakes and sandwiches are great – and what’s more, they have a sustainable approach to what they do; the manual espresso machine uses less energy than an electric one, and the biodegradeable takeaway coffee cups can be popped in the food waste bin at home.
I’ll definitely be going back to Blanche 🙂