A few months ago, little red labels started appearing on the bakery products in my local Tesco, proclaiming the advent of The Bakery Project. These plain labels were on the same products, which jumped slightly in price, no doubt to pay for the re-branding. Then the bakery closed, and the products were shelved elsewhere for a week or so, then, to great proclaim, Euphoria arrived. Like most such enterprises, it was founded by an earnest bearded hipster-type in Islington/Muswell Hill/Kensington. The basic premise is to enable the Islingtonians to taste cakes like their cook used to make, and to charge Islington prices for such simple fare.
Gone were the big racks of bread, the friendly overalled baker ready to slice a load for you. Instead, bread and cakes sit uncovered on great wooden slabs, with little sawn up samples, and loud music. The traditional offering has all but gone, and instead, large scones (only £1.80) and little artisan loaves (only £2.90) are being handled by customers and children, and left out to dry before being snapped up by a vistor from Muswell Hill, who has decided to go into a Tesco for an experiment.to see how the little people do their shopping. Even the small range of regular baked goods has suffered from being baked too quickly and too brown, and the last two loaves I bought were too brown and hard, with doughy insides.
I really do not understand it. One does not go to Tesco for an artisan prune hand kneaded loaf at £2.90. Some areas of Finchley are pretty fancy and upper middle-class, but the good folks from those areas send their staff to Waitrose, not Tesco. However nice a loaf is, made in the traditional way, proved for a long time, and good for me, I simply cannot afford to spend £2.90 on it - that is well over 10% of my weekly food budget. Tesco is a good place to shop, and much better than Sainsburys or Asda. But it is a cheerful and cheap place. If I want poncy organic over-priced artisan goods, I will go to an independent baker, not Tesco. I cannot think for a moment that yummy mummies from Highgate will be tempted in to a supermarket because of this, even with all the billboards tripping you up at the entrance. While Aldi and Lidl are stealing people away from the major supermarkets, I would have thought Tesco would want to compete with them, rather than pricing their regular customers out of the bakery. After all, Every Little Helps!