I love bread. And so does Jonathan St. Hilaire, owner of Bakeshop with partners Todd Rushing and Bob Amick of Concentrics, his former employers.
Located in midtown next to the Metropolis, this place is a full-on bakery. Nothing divides the kitchen from the dining area except a big wooden shelf of freshly baked breads. Three communal tables, one of them practically in the kitchen, made of thick solid wood are paired with tall aluminum chairs to provide casual, neighborly seating.
The aroma of baking bread always reminds me of Germany. There, we would walk to the bakery down the street to get brotchen for breakfast every few days. They used to deliver it every morning at 6am but those days are gone, folks gotta fend for themselves now.
Bakeshop offers a wide selection of breads like ciabatta, brioche, country sourdough, French baguettes, and several seasonal specialties like the date and walnut maple loaf I took home today.
In addition to the breads, St. Hilaire is a baker of pastries. Having graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City, he is well-practiced in the art of pastry. His almond croissants became practically legendary at the market at Parish. At Bakeshop there are chocolate smore tarts, sweets in jars (more on this later), cookies, and whole cakes.
Stints at Spice, Woodfire Grill, and ultimately overseeing all of the baking for Concentrics, his lofty resume belies his humble persona. It seems he just wants a simple bakery, where the quality reins supreme and the customers leave with a smile. The staff at Bakeshop is genuinely interested in you, the customer. Brodie was on hand today to introduce me to their wares and deliver an excellent lunch experience.
Along with the sweets and breads are delectable breakfast items, sandwiches, and salads. I lunched there today and sampled a variety of offerings starting with the soup special of white beans with a slice of sun-dried tomato bread toast, perfect for dipping. The bread provided the saltiness to the sublime soup for the perfect combination. A salad of mixed greens, walnuts, pear, and blue cheese was dressed with a light champagne vinaigrette. Light and not too fussy. A sandwich of prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan on an apple baguette didn’t deliver the sweet note I was hoping for, but was rather over-powered by the salty prosciutto. The best dish by far was the open-faced goat cheese tartine of walnut pesto, avocado, goat cheese, and watercress on a slice of toasted country French bread….absolutely worth a return visit! Creamy, crunchy, unctuous….man, it rocked!
Other savory sandwiches include a grilled cheese with bacon on sourdough, BBQ pork with cabbage slaw on a sweet potato roll, and smoked turkey with blue cheese and red onion on wheat. Fritattas, ham and gruyere croissants, and French toast and more are served for breakfast.
I topped off my lunch with a dessert in a jar. The espresso pot de creme and a large coffee from 1000 Faces, based in Athens, GA. Light yet rich, delicious.
What I had for lunch was nothing compared to what Jonathan packed up for my take-home goodies: the date walnut loaf, ciabatta, French baguette, bacon baguette, and a loaf of country sourdough. Damn! Even I can’t eat that much bread! Plus, an almond croissant, chocolate croissant, pistachio apricot tart, and chocolate graham tart, and a mini ham and goat cheese quiche to go. What a great guy….no surprise that he’s a Pisces!
To be continued…..