Fortitude Bakehouse opens in Chiswick

Fortitude Bakehouse has opened in Turnham Green Terrace in the premises which used to be Borough Wines. The artisan bakery complements Mackens Brothers butchers, the Covent Garden Fishmongers and Lemon and Limes greengrocer, to complete the Happy Families card game set in what has long been the Foodie heart of Chiswick.

The bakery oozes confidence, as befits a shop opened by the couple who run it – Jorge Fernandez and Dee Retalli – who are pretty much royalty in the artisan cafe world.

Jorge is considered one of the pioneers of ‘London Progressive Coffee’, having worked with the Monmouth Coffee Company in its early days, providing a variety of interesting coffees and promoting sustainable trade. They began roasting in 1978 and opened in Borough Market in 2001. Jorge went on to found Fernandez and Wells with BBC journalist Rick Wells.

Image above: Jorge Fernandez behind the counter at Fortitude Bakehouse in Turnham Green Terrace

‘Ten years after meeting in a coffee shop, Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells have London’s luxe café scene cornered’ wrote David Sexton in the Evening Standard in 2015. They had seven in all, mainly around Soho, in Lexington St, Beak St, Denmark St and St Anne’s Court, as well as a concession in the fashion retailer Jigsaw in Mayfair and a larger venue in Somerset House. Each cafe had it’s own character, but they all maintained the same purity in the quality of the food, the coffee and the look of the place which Jorge has now brought to Chiswick.

The new bakery has the look of a business which knows what it’s about. The look is very simple, stripped back, nothing cluttering the floor-to-ceiling main window so you can see everything on the counter from the street: solid wooden trolleys on castors with a small selection of the day’s freshly baked goods: a variety of buns, muffins, quiches, galettes, beef and onion rolls, spinach and feta filo pastry parcels and a small selection of loaves on the day I went in, laid out on big chunks of wood which are attractive in themselves. Plants from Urban Botannical complete the look.

“It’s the first time we’ve opened anywhere so far out of central London” Jorge told The Chiswick Calendar. “What I love about Turnham Green Terrace is that it’s a shopping destination. We think the Bakehouse will be a good fit”.

The baking is done by his partner Dee, or Deirdre as he prefers to call her. Originally a pastry chef from Ireland, she is credited as the first certified organic baker in Europe and a trailblazer for vegan and gluten free baking in the late ’90s. She was also one of the first to apply sourbough baking to cakes.

Try her Morning Buns. They’re made of ‘triple fermented’ sourdough. I have no idea what that means, but they’re not like anything I’d ever tasted before – light, yet really filling, with the sweet and sharp tastes of the fruit filling and a smidge of custard perfectly complementing the dough. To call it a bun doesn’t really do it justice. We also tried the vegan quiches and the spinach and feta filo pastry. All delicious. She learned how to make the Moroccan buns while living in Morocco, where she also learned the local language. Look out also for her live yoghurt soda bread.

Jorge and Dee met when she was supplying his cafes in central London with cakes, and went into business together when Jorge and Rick decided to part company and wind up Fernandez and Wells. The couple, who are both life partners and business partners, established the Fortitude Bakehouse in Bloomsbury, supplying cafes all over London.

As wholesale demand fell off a cliff during lockdown, they were busy creating their next venture, astutely zeroing in on the new preference for staying local. What’s amazing is that they put the shop together in a week.

“We managed to turn it round in a week from when we picked up the keys” says Jorge. “We’re running it as a six month pop up initially, with an option to take on a longer contract if it pans out”.

So I guess it’s up to us to make sure it does pan out. I am pleased to say that the Fortitude Bakehouse has joined The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme and is offering Club Card members 10% off all that they sell in the shop.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bears ice cream is expanding

See also: New Tex Mex restaurant opens