Martins Bakery in Diepriver is one of those hidden gems about which only the locals know, and visitors to Cape Town wish they knew, given the recent propensity for artisan breads.
Martins resembles a typical old fashioned deli / coffee shop, which indeed is exactly what it is. Run by ‘Mr Martins’ (even his faithful staff members call him thus) together with his son and daughter-in-law, Martins is teeming with bread and baked products of just about every description, including an excellent range of wheat-free goodies that feature a wheat free bread (for which you have to place an order, so be warned), a range of biscuits, and the bakery’s delectable date balls, for which we make a stop at least once a week …
The shop is unpretentious, filled with the smells and sounds of bread and baking, and the shelves are lined with any number of items other than bread to easily stock up on goodies to fill your picnic hamper on your way out over a weekend.
To be honest, I own shares in Martins, or should, since we stop off here at least once a week to buy reasonably priced, just baked bread. And that’s the pleasure about Martins. It doesn’t even pretend to be an artisan bread bakery (they probably don’t even realise that the good old fashioned way that they produce bread has just become the latest trend).
Martins just does what it does best – bakes non-commercial, homemade and handmade breads without preservatives, using traditional techniques such as a sourdough starter.
Whilst Martins does not produce all of its breads from sourdough, all of their breads contain flour, water and salt, leavened using a wild yeast or commercial yeast, and nothing else.
Their rye ciabatta (a twist on their standard and olive versions thereof) and rosemary and raisin bread are reasons to get up in the morning, whilst their 100% rye bread can always be counted on. They also sell a 50% rye and a 25% sorbitol rye, all at decent prices, when compared to other bakeries, and there are a number of different types of rolls, bagels and sweet baked goods like croissants, pretzels and muffins.
On any given morning, the coffee shop serves delectable breakfasts and handmade sandwiches using their breads, to locals, who frequent the cafe for anything from business meetings to a quick catch up with mom.
It’s the kind of place where you’re greeted by name and the staff quickly get to know your favourite breads and let you know when they’re due out of the oven (I’ve even had a loaf pulled out of the oven ahead of schedule for me, but you have to own shares in the shop, as I mentioned above).
The fridges are filled with local farm cheeses and dips, fresh vegetables, and ready-to-eat avocado pears right next to the till for you to enjoy with your fresh loaf of bread. They also stock gluten-free pastas, coffees, stoneground flours for those of us who bake our own breads, samoosas (which sell out really fast on a Saturday morning) and wraps if you’re popping in for a fast food fix during the week (they’ll heat them while you wait).
There are moments when Martins gives the distinct impression of being the graduate cousin of the Greek corner cafe of my youth, and may it continue to stay that way. For where else in Cape Town can you find artisan breads for a good price, a decent cup of coffee, and a chance to catch up on the latest rugby match from the lady at the till, who, with a very broad smile, relays how former Springbok members have sat in her kitchen, so closely connected is she with the game.
Martins Bakery, 43 Main Road, Diep River, Cape Town
Telephone: +27 (0)21 712-8555