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Opinions wanted;Where is Chicagoland's best baguette

Opinions wanted;Where is Chicagoland's best baguette
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  • Opinions wanted;Where is Chicagoland's best baguette

    Post #1 - August 11th, 2010, 2:02 am
    Post #1 - August 11th, 2010, 2:02 am Post #1 - August 11th, 2010, 2:02 am
    Hello all!
    My all time favorite food is a baguette with salt and pepper. Nothing in the world can beat that for me. I have been all over the suburbs trying many different bakerie's baguettes and I have my favorites, but I will be moving to Chicago (west loop) in October and I was wondering where you go for your baguettes.
    Thanks
  • Post #2 - August 11th, 2010, 5:13 am
    Post #2 - August 11th, 2010, 5:13 am Post #2 - August 11th, 2010, 5:13 am
    This is a subject I have studied. My opinion:

    1. Benniison's in Evanston (and various Farmer's Markets and retail).
    2. LaBriola
    3. Trader Joe's
    4. Fox and Obel

    There is a newish bakery on Grand or Chicago I have heard good things about but have not sampled.

    Also, there is a very good bakery that only sells wholesale to restaurants and such but I forget the name - something French. They might make the top 2, but no retail.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #3 - August 11th, 2010, 6:51 am
    Post #3 - August 11th, 2010, 6:51 am Post #3 - August 11th, 2010, 6:51 am
    gocubs88 wrote:I have been all over the suburbs trying many different bakerie's baguettes and I have my favorites

    What are some of your suburban favorites?

    AngrySarah wrote:There is a newish bakery on Grand or Chicago I have heard good things about but have not sampled.
    Are you talking about La Farine? Good overall bakery, terrific baguettes.

    La Farine Bakery
    1461 W Chicago Ave
    Chicago IL 60642
    312-850-4019
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - August 11th, 2010, 7:03 am
    Post #4 - August 11th, 2010, 7:03 am Post #4 - August 11th, 2010, 7:03 am
    In my opinion, there is no finer commercial baguette in Chicago than Fox & Obel's. Second place doesn't come close.

    401 East Illinois St.
    (312) 410-7301

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #5 - August 11th, 2010, 9:09 am
    Post #5 - August 11th, 2010, 9:09 am Post #5 - August 11th, 2010, 9:09 am
    Hi,

    Mixed into a number of threads are periodic discussions on baguettes.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - August 11th, 2010, 9:11 am
    Post #6 - August 11th, 2010, 9:11 am Post #6 - August 11th, 2010, 9:11 am
    I don't think I've had a great baguette anywhere in the city/burbs (though I haven't tried Fox and Obel). Bennison's makes some very good breads, but their baguette is flavorless and doesn't have a particularly good crust.
  • Post #7 - August 11th, 2010, 9:25 am
    Post #7 - August 11th, 2010, 9:25 am Post #7 - August 11th, 2010, 9:25 am
    In no specific order since one day one baker would make a perfect baguette with a crunchy crust and with plenty of alveoles in the internal part that we call the "mie" in French, and the next day, especially if the weather is muggy, the whole thing would be too compact and possibly mushy or mealy.

    Bennison's in Evanston

    Cook au Vin at Logan Square Farmer's Market on Sunday. The owner, Vincent Colombet, will open his first real bakery, called La Boulangerie, at the corner of Milwaukee avenue and Logan Blvd this month.

    Fox and Obel until a few months ago

    Bonjour in Hyde Park

    Red Hen on N. Milwaukee avenue
  • Post #8 - August 11th, 2010, 10:38 am
    Post #8 - August 11th, 2010, 10:38 am Post #8 - August 11th, 2010, 10:38 am
    Fox & Obel and Trader Joe's (maybe not great, but really surprisingly good) are my go-to baguettes. Every other baguette I've had in Chicago has been pretty miserable - this includes Bennison's and Red Hen.

    edited to add: I've had better luck with the Trader Joe's on Lincoln & Grace than other locations. The ones I've had from the Ontario Street location are not as good. I don't know why this would be - I can't imagine each location bakes their own?
  • Post #9 - August 11th, 2010, 2:16 pm
    Post #9 - August 11th, 2010, 2:16 pm Post #9 - August 11th, 2010, 2:16 pm
    sarcon wrote:edited to add: I've had better luck with the Trader Joe's on Lincoln & Grace than other locations. The ones I've had from the Ontario Street location are not as good. I don't know why this would be - I can't imagine each location bakes their own?

    They probably both get them from the same source...but I could see storage methods & product turnover making a big difference in quality. Maybe Lincoln Ave. goes through baguettes faster than Ontario St., resulting in more frequent shipments & restocking.
  • Post #10 - August 11th, 2010, 4:27 pm
    Post #10 - August 11th, 2010, 4:27 pm Post #10 - August 11th, 2010, 4:27 pm
    alain40 wrote:
    Bonjour in Hyde Park



    Seconded.
  • Post #11 - August 11th, 2010, 6:38 pm
    Post #11 - August 11th, 2010, 6:38 pm Post #11 - August 11th, 2010, 6:38 pm
    IMO, there is a big difference between Bennisons in-store baguettes and the ones they sell at various markets. Not sure it's worth it if you can't get to the store, but in-store they are my fave (admittedly, most of the other places are a far enough distance that I don't bother)
  • Post #12 - August 11th, 2010, 7:41 pm
    Post #12 - August 11th, 2010, 7:41 pm Post #12 - August 11th, 2010, 7:41 pm
    gocubs88 wrote:My all time favorite food is a baguette with salt and pepper.

    Just curious, do you mean a baguette, buttered, with salt and pepper, or with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or just a dry baguette with salt and pepper?
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #13 - August 11th, 2010, 9:23 pm
    Post #13 - August 11th, 2010, 9:23 pm Post #13 - August 11th, 2010, 9:23 pm
    Katie wrote:
    gocubs88 wrote:My all time favorite food is a baguette with salt and pepper.

    Just curious, do you mean a baguette, buttered, with salt and pepper, or with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or just a dry baguette with salt and pepper?


    I'm weird. Just dry
  • Post #14 - August 11th, 2010, 11:21 pm
    Post #14 - August 11th, 2010, 11:21 pm Post #14 - August 11th, 2010, 11:21 pm
    In no specific order since one day one baker would make a perfect baguette with a crunchy crust and with plenty of alveoles in the internal part that we call the "mie" in French, and the next day, especially if the weather is muggy, the whole thing would be too compact and possibly mushy or mealy.

    Bennison's in Evanston

    Cook au Vin at Logan Square Farmer's Market on Sunday. The owner, Vincent Colombet, will open his first real bakery, called La Boulangerie, at the corner of Milwaukee avenue and Logan Blvd this month.

    Fox and Obel until a few months ago

    Bonjour in Hyde Park


    I adore this city for its food, for all the obvious reasons, but dang, I suffer life in this town for being overall a lousy and persnickety bread place. Why do we only have less than a half dozen places to get a "decent" baguette? I agree with most of the up-thread suggestions (but not with Trader Joe's -- par-baked nasty commissary action shipped in from a hangar near O'Hare or even Red Hen, which got in way over their head a few years back and who knows, are making baguettes in the same hangar as TJ's) but am a little worried about the "Fox and Obel comment "until a few months ago" comment that I copied above. Really? This was my go-to-you-cannot-go-wrong-with-a-baguette-from here response to folks who wanted to know where to get a decent baguette. Did the woman (whose name I can't recall) who'd been there since its inception leave? I hope not. I haven't been there in months so haven't been buying the bread like I used to.

    I would like to think that we all don't have to drive to Hyde Park or Evanston to get a good baguette. Even though I enjoy both of those places very very much. If Fox and Obel is out, that leaves me Bennison's at the markets and La Briola at Edgewater.

    bjt

    bjt





    Red Hen on N. Milwaukee avenue
    "eating is an agricultural act" wendell berry
  • Post #15 - August 12th, 2010, 8:46 am
    Post #15 - August 12th, 2010, 8:46 am Post #15 - August 12th, 2010, 8:46 am
    Man bread, especially baguettes, is one vexing subject. It reminds me of pizza the way that people can approach the same product from opposite sides. Bennison's especially, seems to be so divisive (and KennyZ has not weighed in yet), but I'm on the fan side of their stuff. Maybe some is in the timing or baker, as, for instance, I had a quite mediocre experience at La Farine. I've also had better and worse Red Hen. Not a baguette, but I've never found the greatness (well, maybe goodness) that some see in D'Amato's.

    That said, I do think we are experiencing a bread renaissance in Chicago. Not just Bennison's at the market, which I think really improved what's out there, but especially Cook Au Vin and Crumb and even La Briola (for n. For La Briola, get the sea salt ciabatta. No one's mentioned Medici yet in this thread, and there top notch too.

    The other day, I tried the most expensive bread in Chicago (I think), Hendrix, and it might even have been worth the price. I'm sure others will disagree.
  • Post #16 - August 12th, 2010, 9:00 am
    Post #16 - August 12th, 2010, 9:00 am Post #16 - August 12th, 2010, 9:00 am
    bjt wrote:a little worried about the "Fox and Obel comment "until a few months ago" comment that I copied above. Really? ...

    I've had many F&O baguettes in the past couple of months, and they've been as excellent as ever.


    Vital Information wrote:Bennison's especially, seems to be so divisive (and KennyZ has not weighed in yet), but I'm on the fan side of their stuff.

    I have nothing new to say about Bennison's. I haven't bought bread from them in over a year because of the consistent disappointments prior to that. I'm willing to buy the argument that only the stuff they sell at farmer's markets sucks, and that the stuff (and the staff) in the store is better.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #17 - August 12th, 2010, 9:20 am
    Post #17 - August 12th, 2010, 9:20 am Post #17 - August 12th, 2010, 9:20 am
    Kennyz wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:Bennison's especially, seems to be so divisive (and KennyZ has not weighed in yet), but I'm on the fan side of their stuff.

    I have nothing new to say about Bennison's. I haven't bought bread from them in over a year because of the consistent disappointments prior to that. I'm willing to buy the argument that only the stuff they sell at farmer's markets sucks, and that the stuff (and the staff) in the store is better.

    I have only bought Bennison's baguettes at the store, which I pass to and from work every day, and I like them quite a bit. They sit in a paper sleeve in a basket on the counter, so I think that addresses your storage issues, Kenny. Usually at least one staff member is not clueless, and usually I am asked if I want the baguette as is or with a plastic bag. They ask the same for their ciabatta loaves, which sit out in a basket behind the counter. I like the baguettes better than the ciabatta.
  • Post #18 - August 12th, 2010, 9:54 am
    Post #18 - August 12th, 2010, 9:54 am Post #18 - August 12th, 2010, 9:54 am
    To be a little more precise regarding my comments about the baguettes at F&O and Red Hen.

    F&O used to bake bread twice a day and that made a whole difference when you buy a baguette at 5:00 PM to take home for dinner. For a while now I believe that they have been baking baguettes only in the morning. And 2 or 3 times over the last 4 months the baguette I bought after 4:00 PM was a bit dry or sometimes a bit saggy when I got home.
    And the crust of their baguette is not as regularly well baked and tasty as it used to be 3 years ago.
    The muggy weather we had for he last 2 months did not help.

    Red Hen, to be honest I have not purchased any baguette at the store for at least 2 years. But the baguette I have been eating at my favorite late "Friday Lunch" restaurant that had just ben delivered was consistently very good.

    P.S I bought a baguette at Medici in Hyde Park for the first time last week-end and it was pretty decent, but a bit "chewy"
    TJ's on Lincoln used to have a very good baguette a few years back but they changed their supplier and now its has become pretty mediocre
  • Post #19 - August 12th, 2010, 10:16 am
    Post #19 - August 12th, 2010, 10:16 am Post #19 - August 12th, 2010, 10:16 am
    Kennyz wrote:I'm willing to buy the argument that only the stuff they sell at farmer's markets sucks, and that the stuff (and the staff) in the store is better.


    FWIW, the Bennison's baguettes that they distribute around town are no better than their Farmer's Markets sog. The Bennison's at Green Grocer, for example, are squishy, wan things. You might have better luck buying it from Pastoral, because they at least somewhat competently bake off the baguettes in-store. I think the issue with Bennison's is storage during travel.

    I have yet to have anything from La Farine that is fresh, let alone good. I'll keep trying, though, because it's so nearby to my house, and I've heard great things about their bread.

    As for La Briola, they have an impressive array of bread at the Daley Center market, but I've only thus far found the pretzel rolls to be worthy of anything, and the baguettes don't "feel right" -- more like the Italian version of the baguette that D'Amato's sells.
  • Post #20 - August 12th, 2010, 10:20 am
    Post #20 - August 12th, 2010, 10:20 am Post #20 - August 12th, 2010, 10:20 am
    alain40 wrote:F&O used to bake bread twice a day and that made a whole difference when you buy a baguette at 5:00 PM to take home for dinner. For a while now I believe that they have been baking baguettes only in the morning.

    I think you've been unlucky. They still bake multiple times per day, though admittedly it can be tough to get a straight answer from the typically clueless staff about when the particular loaf you're buying came out.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #21 - August 12th, 2010, 10:42 am
    Post #21 - August 12th, 2010, 10:42 am Post #21 - August 12th, 2010, 10:42 am
    Vital Information wrote:Man bread, especially baguettes, is one vexing subject. It reminds me of pizza the way that people can approach the same product from opposite sides. Bennison's especially, seems to be so divisive (and KennyZ has not weighed in yet), but I'm on the fan side of their stuff. Maybe some is in the timing or baker, as, for instance, I had a quite mediocre experience at La Farine. I've also had better and worse Red Hen. Not a baguette, but I've never found the greatness (well, maybe goodness) that some see in D'Amato's.

    That said, I do think we are experiencing a bread renaissance in Chicago. Not just Bennison's at the market, which I think really improved what's out there, but especially Cook Au Vin and Crumb and even La Briola (for n. For La Briola, get the sea salt ciabatta. No one's mentioned Medici yet in this thread, and there top notch too.

    The other day, I tried the most expensive bread in Chicago (I think), Hendrix, and it might even have been worth the price. I'm sure others will disagree.


    I could not agree with you more. I know out here in the suburbs, I live 10 minutes from the Labriola in Oakbrook and it seems that it is the place to go. While I do think Labriola's texture is good, I have trouble finding a flavor. Another place (the Breadsmith) is highly recommended but I absolutely hate it. I think it tastes “soapy” for some reason.
    I asked a friend who frequently visits France for his rec, and he basically said that once you had a true French baguette you can never eat American breads.
  • Post #22 - August 13th, 2010, 12:00 am
    Post #22 - August 13th, 2010, 12:00 am Post #22 - August 13th, 2010, 12:00 am
    So what is the baguette at Medici in Hyde Park like? I love their over-the-top don't tell your cardiologist ham & cheese croissants, but we purchased a so-called Ciabatta recently and nothing even remotely in any way was related to what a ciabatta should be. Even in its non-real ciabatta form it wasn't so good.

    bjt
    "eating is an agricultural act" wendell berry
  • Post #23 - August 14th, 2010, 4:54 pm
    Post #23 - August 14th, 2010, 4:54 pm Post #23 - August 14th, 2010, 4:54 pm
    Vital Information wrote:I do think we are experiencing a bread renaissance in Chicago.

    I agree. And the same thing has been going on in the realm of pastry, whose practitioners have considerable overlap with those for bread. For a long time, there weren't all that many bakeries doing really impressive things with, say, French/European style pastries - Vanille, Fox & Obel, Alliance, Lutz, and Gourmet Frog being among the exceptions. But lately, several new excellent pastry places have opened up, including Floriole and Fritz. Most of the pastry places have breads and vice versa, so this is good news for fans of baked goods of all kinds.
  • Post #24 - August 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm
    Post #24 - August 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm Post #24 - August 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm
    Agreeing with VI: Hendricx may indeed be worth the price (cough: $36/loaf) Marie Antoinette is vindicated at last!
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #25 - August 14th, 2010, 9:36 pm
    Post #25 - August 14th, 2010, 9:36 pm Post #25 - August 14th, 2010, 9:36 pm
    Artopolis in Greektown. Their baguettes are fresh and wonderful, they come in several varities, including plain, an assortment of seeds on top, and the really terrific loaf with salt sprinkled heavily on top, and they are not even $3. Several of my friends that sell cheese at smaller farmer's markets pick up fresh baked loaves to sell along with their lovely cheese before the market opens, so I assume they bake at night. http://www.artopolischicago.com/the-bakery
  • Post #26 - August 15th, 2010, 9:45 am
    Post #26 - August 15th, 2010, 9:45 am Post #26 - August 15th, 2010, 9:45 am
    gocubs88 wrote:I asked a friend who frequently visits France for his rec, and he basically said that once you had a true French baguette you can never eat American breads.


    They make crap baguettes in France too. I've had them. They may be the exception, but they definitely exist. Wherever the B&B where we stayed in Epernay got theirs, feh! Consistently, daily - mediocre.
    Leek

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  • Post #27 - August 17th, 2010, 10:35 am
    Post #27 - August 17th, 2010, 10:35 am Post #27 - August 17th, 2010, 10:35 am
    Khaopaat wrote:
    sarcon wrote:edited to add: I've had better luck with the Trader Joe's on Lincoln & Grace than other locations. The ones I've had from the Ontario Street location are not as good. I don't know why this would be - I can't imagine each location bakes their own?

    They probably both get them from the same source...but I could see storage methods & product turnover making a big difference in quality. Maybe Lincoln Ave. goes through baguettes faster than Ontario St., resulting in more frequent shipments & restocking.


    that would be a reasonable hypothesis, but the Ontario street baguettes actually seem structurally different. denser and less airy. foam-like. the crust is ok, though.
  • Post #28 - August 17th, 2010, 10:39 am
    Post #28 - August 17th, 2010, 10:39 am Post #28 - August 17th, 2010, 10:39 am
    Love the pretzel baguette from Bennison's. I tend to buy them at the farmer's market and snack my way through it as I peruse the peaches.

    I've seen the bread scene improve here since my arrival in 2002. It's still not up to the level I experienced in Berkeley - imagine choosing between thirty different types of bread at Safeway! - but it's a damn sight better.
    As a mattra-fact, Pie Face, you are beginning to look almost human. - Barbara Bennett
  • Post #29 - August 17th, 2010, 2:09 pm
    Post #29 - August 17th, 2010, 2:09 pm Post #29 - August 17th, 2010, 2:09 pm
    It really bugs me when people slag Chicago's bakeries. Where else can you get authentic Russian Monestary sourdough rye bread made with sprouted Red Rye seeds? We have a huge variety of ethnic breads made here, from Uzbeki and Georgian to Lithuanian and Latvian. I doubt there is another city in this country with as wide a variety of bread styles available. To judge a city by the quality of its baguettes is absurd. Baguettes are the simplest bread to bake. Obviously, it is a real art to bake them well, but I would give up eating baguettes entirely if I had to choose between them and my Russian Rye.
  • Post #30 - September 5th, 2010, 12:18 pm
    Post #30 - September 5th, 2010, 12:18 pm Post #30 - September 5th, 2010, 12:18 pm
    Cashing in on my Fox and Obel Groupon this morning, I picked up a baguette (along with some fantastic cheeses, a steak, etc.). I sure do wish Fox and Obel weren't so inconvenient to where I live and obscenely expensive (not to mention the various rant-worthy issues) - it really is the best baguette in the city.

    Image
    Fox and Obel Baguette by danschleifer23, on Flickr

    -Dan

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