Review: Somewhere Over Knowhere, Kentish Town

Is this the bakery everyone’s been waiting for?

Most eagle-eyed locals will have spied that the old greasy spoon Mamma Mia has just re-emerged as a new bakery, Somewhere Over Knowhere.

Opening last weekend, it’s the creation of Ash Clarke and Helen Gay, the married team behind the basement’s highly acclaimed experimental cocktail bar, Knowhere Special.

While the latter offers libational experiences with a palatable foodie-centric twist, the bakery above delights in more homely comforts: quality loaves freshly baked each day with sweet and savoury pastries, sandwiches, soups and organic teas and coffees.

Clever use of a small space: inside.
Clever use of a small space: inside.

It makes clever use of its small space: we enter into a light, open room with wooden floorboards and a communal dining table. There’s the aroma of baked bread in the air as owners Ash and Helen happily chat about their venture.


A blackboard lists daily specials and lunch options, with a wooden counter piled high with treats. Around the walls are pictures of rock and movie legends and the purposely mismatched elements of the basement bar’s signature shabby-chic style.

For those that have been to Two Doors Down or La Bouche in Hackney, there are similarities in the relaxed, cool vibe. Their focus is on serving high quality products at reasonable prices whilst ensuring that regulars come based on word-of-mouth.

The bakery was already bustling on its second day with a platter of carb-dreams to ogle: white and wholemeal bloomers, sourdoughs, ricotta and spinach pastries, sandwiches, brownies and a tempting banana bread.

Finally, daily bread by the tube...
Finally, daily bread by the tube…

It’s the sausage rolls that are the stars: small but perfectly formed with a sticky, eggy, sausage meat and flaky, golden glazed pastry, a sprinkling of seeds. A peppery piece of heaven; and we’re promised that more porky products will be on offer once the bakery gets going.

And it’s cheap enough to swing by most days: a couple of slices of toast is just £1 and you can help yourself to the selection of jams and other condiments on the communal table. The brioche, already apparently tipped by some French customers as the best in London, is as it should be – decadently buttery, a fluffy bake with a smooth golden glaze.

And coffee from Bean About Town, strong and nutty (and also sold in packets), is perfect with an apple Danish, a buttery affair with tangy hints of nutmeg and cinnamon in its gooey centre. Only disappointment? A pain au chocolat, risen to perfection, but let down by too paltry a portion of the dark stuff in its centre.

Nice signage
Nice signage, too.

With such a carb-centric menu some may fear for their waistlines but there is respite with lighter selections of fruit pots, a pick-a-mix salad bar, herbal teas and freshly made soups that go brilliantly with their rosemary and tomato focaccia.

As if a bakery and cocktail bar wasn’t enough, at the back there’s a deli that will grow in the coming months to complement the menu: expect ghost pepper naga pastes, hot sauces, chilli-cashews, vinegars, mustards and Iberico pork fat. Yum.

In short, I can’t stop popping in. Somewhere Over Knowhere has, in two days, made me buy three loaves, and dazzled my household with shrieks of “what the hell bread is this, and where can I get it?”

With its great location, right by the canopy and next to the Assembly House, it’s sure to clean up in an area now thriving with new foodie businesses.

This is box title
Somewhere Over Knowhere at 296 Kentish Town Rd, London, NW5 2TG. Opening hours Tues-Sun 930-5pm. Evening service (read our review here) Thurs – Sat, 630-1030pm.

Alison King writes for the Independent. Follow her on @heartsnbones

  • Show Comments

  • christelle

    I wish the opening mentioned above were rights. It is never open at 8.20 am when I go to work and I am missing out on much needed brioche.

  • Julianator

    Sounds like another good new opening. Look forward to testing it out.

  • Gina

    When will they start opening in the mornings at 7.30am? We walk by every morning just after 8am excited to try their coffee, only to see them closed!

  • Dawnnme

    Brioche, real Brioche, who said Brioche?! Definitely going to try this place out this weekend. #Fingercrossed, KT need a proper Bakery.

  • Greg

    I was put off by a dog sitting with the customers at the communal dining table. “No Dogs Allowed” please.

  • Deirdre

    It now seems to be closed. At least it was yesterday and it today.

  • Richard

    Can’t wait to try it. SO glad they’re cool about dogs. ‘No narrow minded people allowed’ PLease

  • Colm

    Any time I go there before work it’s closed. Shame because their coffee is wonderful.

  • Ronan

    Just seems to be closed all the time… What’s going on?

    • Clare

      It’s too hip to be bothered by mainstream concerns like actually opening.

      • julianafarha

        …or being even vaguely pleasant. I stopped by when they first opened and had a chat with one of the guys there who immediately started slagging off Earth, which I really like and where I shop a lot. When you’re the new kid on the block, slagging off other businesses, which aren’t even direct competitors, is totally uncool. Still, I decided to go there with a friend this morning and the same guy was SOOOOO rude to us. Other staff weren’t directly rude, but simply wouldn’t make eye contact or acknowledge our presence except to remove plates from the table. The coffee was very good but an order of toast consisted of a single slice, not very big. Can’t imagine why I’d go back.

        Contrast this with the staff at Arancini Bros, who get it totally right: relaxed, friendly without being intrusive, great music. And great food, of course.

  • CN

    I’ve walked up three times now at various times on different days within the listed “open” hours, but it has been closed every time. That’s just annoying.

  • PrinceofWalesDaniel

    The Council issued an enforcement notice to have it closed down because historically the space never had permission to become a cafe. When such permission was asked for with the new venture, this was the result. Well done Camden – d’oh!

  • christelle

    to be honest I’m not missing it. It was never open, the staff was at best moody, at worth rude, and the bread and pastries were not that good. I do miss the very good caf that was there before.