Chalk Hills Bakery Shop and Cafe

 75 Bell Street, Reigate, RH2 7ANChris & Rosie owners of Chalk Hills Bakery

A bakery and café delivering artisan bread and pastry magic to the lucky folk of Reigate.

Go there for: Handmade artisan bread, gorgeous pastries, tarts, and a bacon sandwich to shout about.

Avoid: Trying to resist anything in this café; it’s futile.

Is it worth the calories?: I should say so: this is the ultimate good food experience!

Tips: The sandwiches on the menu are fantastic but if you want a bespoke combination just ask.

Walking into Chalk Hill Bakery on a rainy autumn day to the smell of toasting bread and aromatic coffee is a truly uplifting experience.Chalk Hills Bakery shop front

Chris and Rosie Robinson sold their gastro pub, The Stephen Langton in Abinger Hammer, to start a proper artisan bakery. Coincidentally, Priory Farm had a kitchen to rent in the old tractor shed and in November 2010 the first loaves were sold in the Priory Farm shop.

Chris and his team make sour-dough bread by hand the old-fashioned way and let it rise naturally over a 2-day period to develop flavour and texture ­- don’t think of muttering Chorley Wood, dough improvers or high-speed mixing here. Sourcing fine ingredients such as Shipton Mill organic flour gives added provenance to their products. The long fermentation process means the bread stays fresh for longer and is easier to digest.

Chalk Hills Bakery produce 17 different loaves, including fig and walnut sour dough (£3.65), large rye (£2.75), and other classics such as ciabatta (£2.50) and focaccia with a selection of toppings (£3.95). They also make a Surrey bloomer (£1.75) and Italian sticks (£2.10). Even the yeasted breads have a flavour boost of sour dough starter and are slowly proved in a refrigerator. The full range of products is on sale at Priory Farm and at Chalk Hills Bakery every day. They sell wholesale to a handful of local businesses.

Artisan bread selection at Chalk HIlls

Chalk Hills Bakery has definitely got the X factor (but with classier music). It’s modern yet rustic, charming and friendly, and has a simple but innovative menu. They cleverly match their bread to the sandwich fillings so you get the best texture and flavour combination. In addition they make croissants, scones, sausage rolls (with free-range sausage meat from Bowles farm in Ewhurst). Ham and beef for their sandwiches are cooked in the bakery; meat comes from Robert and Edwards of Reigate. In fact everything on the menu is made at the bakery, even the soup.

The bread menu, sweet tarts and bacon sandwich on white bloomer

I tucked into their classic bacon sandwich made from Gloucester Old Spot free-range bacon on toasted Surrey Bloomer (£3.95). What a triumph! Crisp, salty bacon, sweet herb jelly and perfectly toasted bread. The Sage Jelly from local producer PickleCake Parma ham and mozzarella with sage jelly (produced locally by Picklecake) also caught my eye – next time! I rounded this off with a pot of Barry’s Irish tea. I’ve never heard of it but apparently if you are from Southern Ireland it’s the only tea to drink and Chris (who’s from Dublin) won’t sell anything else. Coffee comes from Union, a craft roaster in East London, and soft drinks from Luscombe organics in Devon.

Business has been booming ever since the bakery opened and they plan to open another shop. Just make a wish that it’s on your doorstep: I have.