Sammy Milton speaks to Steve Gale, the owner of Flour & Ash, about their successful new bakery/cafe
What is the ethos of the company?
The ethos really, when it all began, was to take the humble pizza and just make it as good as we possibly could. We spent a lot of time sourcing the best ingredients, and I know everyone says that, but I think we actually have. We spent an enormous amount of time finding the right flour to make the dough perfect and really just trying to elevate the pizzas. We rolled out the second branch in Westbury-on-Trym, we have the wood oven there, and all the flour and the mixers, as well as some very skilled bakers, so it wasn’t exactly a huge jump to do a bakery/cafe —which is where we are now.
What made you want to open another branch? And why Westbury-on-Trym?
We’re a fairly ambitious company and felt that we could expand, and Westbury just seemed to be a place where there was definitely some opportunity for something else in the area. We found the vacant site and away we went.
The new bakery/cafe is marketed as a social hub for the community, could you tell me more about this?
We’ve had people coming in from 8 in the morning! The site itself is a very big room, and it really comes alive when there’s lots of people coming in and out. It’s not so much that there weren’t already cafes and bakeries here, but I don’t think there’s anywhere really in Westbury that combines everything together, where it’s an all-day service and you can literally pop in for a take-away coffee on your way to work, or grab a cake or pastry mid-afternoon.
We roll seamlessly from breakfast to lunch into pizzas in the evening. For a little village, it’s quite nice to have something like that where you can just sort of drop in all day long with your friends and family and have somewhere where you’re going to get quality food from 8 in the morning through to last thing at night.
When I came along to the opening night, I had the steak and eggs and it was absolutely fantastic. Could you tell me more about the menu?
We were umming and ahhing about whether to put that on the menu. I’ve seen it a few times but it’s always been executed quite poorly, either the steak’s not very good quality or not cooked particularly well, so we sourced really good meat.We weren’t sure people were going to get it, but it’s selling really well. We just love food really, it’s quite diverse, we try and keep it relatively understandable —I don’t think people want to be too challenged at breakfast and brunch. Our cakes are quite inventive, a lot of our food is based on twists of very traditional cooking techniques or classical dishes. We’ve got a lot of classically trained chefs here so we just rely on well-known flavours and combinations and try and modernise it really.
What is your favourite dish?
I like the steak and eggs! And our sausage rolls are great, we have savouries up at the bar and we’ve been working quite hard on that, sourcing the best pork and getting the recipe right.
What else can you tell me about the new Flour & Ash?
We’re just trying to get the word out that we’re open. We’ve always struggled a little bit with getting people to know about us in Westbury, I think mainly because we’ve always relied on social media in the past and there’s a very high contingent of people in Westbury that don’t use it, so we’re just trying to spread the love.
A few people are still a little bit confused because we’ve only just flipped over to the daytime concept and the breakfast brunch menu, but we are still doing our pizzas from 4 o’clock every day. We also have a £9 deal, which is a long standing thing, if anyone comes in before 6.30pm and orders a pizza, they are all £9.