Friday, 20 January 2012

Primrose Bakery - Covent Garden.

While I was down in London filming I decided to check out a few well known bakeries to see what all the fuss was about. The two I was looking forward to the most were The Primrose Bakery and The Hummingbird Bakery. I have both of their recipe books and hear nothing but great things from my London based spies.

So, I have decided to do a bit of a review/comparison of the two big bakeries. I will start of by reviewing the bakeries themselves, looking at atmosphere, price, staff and of course the crucial taste test.
Then I will review their respective books, baking a few recipes from each and comparing them based on how easy they are to follow, and of course how they compare not only to each other but to the "real thing" instore. It will probably span a few posts and a good few weeks, so stay tuned!

I am in no way being paid or sponsored to write this post, they are simply my opinions.

I headed for The Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden after a reccomendation from Katiecakes on twitter. I of course had heard of the bakery as I received one of their recipe books for Christmas but as soon as I saw on the map that it was just around the corner from where I was, I had to stop by for a cake-fix...

From the outside the cafe is simply adorable, the buttercup yellow facade really catches your eye and draws you in. The sweet hand-drawn logo on the front window and kitch interior really polish off the home-spun look, so I was in no doubt that I had in fact found the place I was after.

The inside is quite compact, but sweet. The chairs and table were all mis-matched but worked well together. They had a large chalk board on the wall with the prices on and a glass counter that ran the length of the shop.
On the counter there were large cakes on stands, which looked lovely. Inside the cabinet was a (small) selection of cupcakes, slices, cookies and loafs.

Behind the counter there was a selection of cute paraphernalia, from greetings cards and prints to vintage sweets and cook books. The display was very well presented, I was instantly drawn to it and had to hold myself back from buying everything in sight!
The only drawback with the displays for me was the fact that not all of the cupcakes and bakes were labelled in the cabinet so it was hard to tell what was what.

I opted to try the coconut and lime cupcake with a pot of tea. The tea was reasonably priced and the pot was huge! I got 4 cups out of it! Very impressed.

The cupcake however was a HUGE disappointment. The sponge was dry and a little bland I couldn't really taste any coconut or lime in the actual sponge itself, it seemed like just plain vanilla. It was so dry that I actually couldn't finish it (which is rare for me!) the frosting was packed full of lime zest and juice by the taste of it, it was quite overpowering and bitter, and it was dusted with coconut which didn't really add to the flavour.

The other disappointment for me was the staff, they were friendly enough but when I asked about the cakes they didn't seem to know what they all were and when I asked which one THEY would recommend they responded by saying they didn't actually like cake so couldn't help! Also, another couple of people came in after us and inquired what the lovely cinnamon smell wafting from the kitchen was, the girl behind the counter simply shrugged and asked them what they wanted.
I know not everyone is a fan of cake, or knowledgeable about baking, but they should at least have a basic knowledge about the goods they are selling and be enthusiastic.

I will score each section out of five, giving a combined total out of twenty.

Atmosphere: 5 - lovely location and decor and it smelled amazing!
Price - 4 - Very reasonably priced for London.
Staff - 1 - Friendly but clueless (sorry)
Taste - 2 - The cupcake I tasted was bland and dry.

Total: 12/20

I would say it is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, but not the best service and disappointing taste test. A little bit of style of substance here.

Have you been to Primrose? Did I just get a bad cupcake? Tell me about your experience...


  1. I'm really suprised! from the book you get the impression that they're almost a family with all the staff.
    I haven't been there but have been to the hummingbird bakery on portobello road. I was dissapointed but only because you big them up soo much in your mind!
    Next time you should go to Outsider Tart! They are supposed to be amazing!

    Amy @ xxx

  2. How interesting and what a pity. I wonder if all the fame has gone to their heads and they have lost whatever it was that made them so popular in the first place.

  3. I've been to the Primrose Bakery and had a very similar experience so I'm glad it's not just me. I LOVE their book and have not tried a bad recipe from their book. However the cakes I tried were stale and bland. I've never been back. I was really disappointed as I expected more. Hummingbird bakery on the other hand I keep going back to as I love their cakes and bakes :)

  4. I'm off to London next week and was planning a trip to Hummingbird Bakery. Sounds like Primrose was pretty but disappointing Which is a shame. :( do you reckon its worth popping in to primrose or sticking with hummingbird bakery?

    1. It is still worth a visit I would say, it is just by covent garden so if you are in the area do pop in.

      If you go to Hummingbird go to the South Ken branch, its the best one. ;)

  5. I love the sound of these posts! Can't wait to read the Hummingbird review. My friend went into the one in Soho(?) in November and was a bit disappointed. Although she said the cupcake wasn't bad, she wasn't impressed either.

    I can't believe how unhelpful the staff were at Primrose Bakery, that's shocking! Although I'm a barista and don't actually like coffee(!) I still try to be as helpful as possible to customers.

    1. Thats the thing, it wasnt the fact that she didnt like cake, because not everyone does, but she could of said "Well I dont eat a lot of cake but this is our best seller..." or "This is one of our most popular ones..."
      I just wanted enthusiasm and passion for what she was selling. :)

  6. No... I've had the same problem with Primrose! First time i went with a friend and the cakes were lovely - second time I took my mum and the cakes were very dry - she did say rather loudly that mine were better, she had the banana one and wasn't keen, I had a mocha one; not a lot of coffee taste and that dry you needed a large tea to wash it down with. I agree with you about the staff too - they didn't know one cake from the other although they were very attentive carrying our drinks to the table for us. Nice surroundings even if we did have to wait ages as there isn't a lot of seating xx

  7. Sorry you didn't have a good experience at Primrose, I work a short walk from it and sometimes pop in for takeout cupcakes. If you're ever in the same area and want a good cup of tea and a cake, head to Get Cofee on Fleet Street, it's slightly off opposite the Royal Courts of Justice and is a lovely little independent place :)

  8. I used to recommend Primrose Cakes - now I can't as they are just inedible. They never taste of anything and are usually stale tasting - we tried some recently just to check they were still bad and they were. The service is generally awful too - in the original one I once saw one of the owners sigh heavily and tut when someone who'd just spent about £50 on cake asked could they have a bag.

  9. I've never been to the shop but use their recipes from their book all of the time, I've neva had a bad cake and I've always had good feed back of mine, making my first two batches this week to sell.


All comments are greatly loved;

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