Inside Yellowhammer, Stockport’s brand new deli that even makes its own plates

With more than 20 years’ experience working in the hospitality industry and with a green Michelin star under his belt for his highly acclaimed Stockport dining spot, Where The Light Gets In, it’s fair to say that chef Samuel Buckley knows a thing or two about launching a successful food and drink concept. So, when it was announced last summer that he was to open a bakery and pottery studio on Stockport’s Lower Hillgate, expectations were certainly high.

And, when the long-awaited Yellowhammer finally opened its doors this past week, any reservations or last minute nerves were quickly forgotten about, and, as expected, Stockport welcomed the newcomer with open arms. Taking over the former Tudor Café on Stockport’s Underbanks, the opening represents a collaboration between Buckley, potter Joe Hartley and baker Rosie Wilkes.

“People have just been ridiculously nice to us,” revealed Sam during a sneak peak of the bakery, a few weeks back. “It’s a really good community, we’ve been down here full-time the last few weeks, with people popping in and they just seem really curious and welcoming, which is really nice.”

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Named for the brightly-coloured woodland songbird’s call – said to go ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ – the venue has impressed visitors with its no-nonsense baked goods and spot-on sourdough. For its first weekend of trading, punters were able to pick up a variety of sweet and savoury bites, from traditional French baguettes and leek and butter buns, to candied orange teacakes and marmalade cream buns.

Yellowhammer recently opened on Stockport’s Lower Hillgate
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

A welcome addition to town’s burgeoning food and drink scene, Yellowhammer’s building, with its endearing bottle green exterior, has been lovingly restored to its original Edwardian glory. The building, which was formerly a café, and before that a restaurant, features awning typical of shops from the period.

Inside, minimalist interiors – think industrial accents and exposed brick – offer a contemporary feel. Originally slated to open last August, Yellowhammer’s arrival is the latest step in the regeneration of Stockport’s Underbanks.

The ‘Rediscovering the Underbanks’ initiative, which has been spearheaded by Stockport Council and funded by the National Lottery Fund, was launched to bring the area’s historic buildings back to life, reconnect people with the area, and build a narrative around the town’s heritage. Yellowhammer joins boutique Top of The Town Vintage, run by northern content creator and vintage lover Sophia Rosemary, and popular vegan eatery, Hillgate Cakery, in the area.

Inside the bakery has designed to be flexible so it can continually evolve
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Designed to be a working bakery, seating inside is purposely limited here, but, as Sam explained, they wanted something quite continental in style. “No laptops really, we always talked about that French coffee shop vibe, somewhere you stop in the morning for a coffee, say hi to friend, or if you’re coming back from work, a quick glass of wine.”

Even the furniture has been carefully considered to achieve their goal of creating a laid-back, European-style shop and bakery. Rather than limit themselves to a rigid fitout, the space is purposely quite sparse, filled with tables on wheels so that they can continue to evolve the space as they see fit. Or, as Sam put it: “everything is on wheels because none of us can decide on anything.”

Joe’s pottery studio
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Since its opening several years ago, Where The Light Gets In has been setting the agenda for sustainable eating. Whether they’re growing veg on their own farm, sourcing sustainable meat from British producers or growing herbs on the roof of Merseyway Shopping Centre, the green Michelin-starred establishment has been proud to champion a circular dining ethos. With Yellowhammer, it’ll be much the same, presenting an opportunity for the exchange of ingredients between the two – the restaurant sits just slightly up from the bakery, allowing for deliveries to be passed down the cobbled hill.

Meanwhile, Rosie, who cut her cloth as a baker in famed Manchester bakeries such as Trove and Pollen, is keen to incorporate a diverse range of organic grains sourced from around the UK into her baking, making the operation as hyper-local as possible. Her predominantly sourdough bakes are complemented by coffee from Hasbeen roastery – available as filter or espresso – and a variety of natural wines that line the shelves above the main counter.

To discourage food waste and to cater to customers’ different needs, Rosie’s breads are available in different quantities, so if you don’t want to commit to a whole loaf, you can pick up a half or a quarter. Each week a revolving menu of sandwiches, cheese, homemade butter and even ferments – the latter in response to what they have leftover at Where The Light Gets In – will also be on offer.

Head Baker Rosie Wilkes
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Working in synergy with the bakery, Joe’s pottery studio, located at the far end of the space through a partition door – which is needed so that clay doesn’t get into the dough – has already been busy creating ceramics for the breads and buns to be served on. But now that the bakery meets pottery studio hybrid has opened, he’ll also be joined by two resident potters.

Their works will soon be available to buy – or eat off – and the studio will be periodically hosting workshops for those interested in getting behind the wheel. In time, residencies will also be extended to the bakery itself, with many of Sam and Rosie’s culinary friends taking the floor.

It’s been a tough couple of years for the hospitality industry, and yet towns like Stockport have come back fighting. Whether it’s the new bars surrounding the market area like Cherry Jam, or unique restaurant offerings like Mekong Cat and Bistro Marc that have recently opened in the Old Town, there’s certainly something exciting brewing in this south Greater Manchester town, and Yellowhammer’s arrival is testament to that.

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