Kentish Town Road is an ever-morphing creature, and thankfully so; constant change is why there’s still a ‘proper’ high street in NW5 at all. So while there were a fair few misty eyes at the all-too-inevitable demise of magazine emporium Planet News, its replacement has been the topic of much breathless and expectant gossip. Well, in certain quarters anyway.
Over recent weeks, the groaning racks of unsold glossies have vanished and a fully-fledged bakery has been painstakingly installed. It’s run by the accomplished and much-loved team behind neighbouring Mediterranean indie supermarket Phoenicia. And with a name like Le Moulin, it’s blindingly obvious which local demographic they are hoping to tap into.
We joined a steady throng of early morning customers (all of whom were most complimentary), and tucked into some dangerously affordable pastries, and pleasingly crusty fresh organic rolls.
A range of cute mini stone-baked rolls start at a most bargainsome 39p a pop, with a chausson aux pommes pastry only a few pence more. A selection of rather more standard savoury nibbles are similarly priced, although the main attraction on the marbletop counters is clearly the baskets of artisanal breads.
All baked on the premises, these are at the other end of the price scale, with the magnificent, dark and crunchy baguette cereals au levain at £5.89. Yet the quality of ingredients and traditional baking process is exactly the kind of thing local bread-heads will no doubt be keenly seeking out.
There’s also a vast cabinet of hand-made, fruit-infused chocolates, mirroring Phoenicia’s carefully built towers of Middle Eastern sweets, and even – for now – a few of the same biscuits, however brand new types are promised in the coming weeks.
We enjoyed the punchy 100% Arabica Busonero Italian coffee: dark, rich espresso of the kind Doppio regulars will lap up. Already there are plans for more seating, as customers have already been eager to linger in the wood-clad interior.
One observation? It doesn’t feel particularly French though. The vibe is more Green Lanes or Edgware Rd than Champs-Elysees. That’s still great news for the high street, particularly following the disappointing demise of E.Mono offshoot Mike, and this buzzy new opening is well on course to be a huge hit.
But we await the all-important verdict of the Frentishtowners. Does Le Moulin finally mark the arrival of the kind of local bakery everyone has been banging on about?