West Town Bakery with a European approach – NBC Chicago


There are several new bakeries in Chicago, each offering something unique. One of them takes a very European approach, according to NBC 5’s Food Guy Steve Dolinsky.

Publican Quality Bread recently moved to a huge new space, where it’s an all day gluten party.

Mornings are busy at any bakery, but at Publican – which occupies a corner of West Town with a few tables outside for seating – baking bread is the focus.

“We make a lot of bread. We’re making 18,000 pounds of dough in a week right now,” said Greg Wade, head baker.

Wade oversees everything from mixing to shaping and, of course, baking.

“Our everything is sourdough bread or natural sourdough bread with local farms, whole grains. So that means honey oatmeal porridge, that means multi-grain, that means 100% seeded rye,” he said.

Emerging from a giant oven like battle-ready soldiers, the loaves have crisp, hardened crusts with soft, supple interiors and plenty of open crumb structure.

There’s also coffee and espresso, which go well with the orange-flavored kouign amann or one of their puff and puff pastries with marzipan or chocolate.

Wade’s philosophy is simple.

“Familiar and identifiable, but elevated,” he explained.

Like heirloom tomato-encrusted pies or open-faced toast loaded with spring peas and onions, or earthy mushrooms and cheese. Consider Danish Heritage Cornmeal.

“Buttery danish, amped up with corn, but then we have a fantastic cream cheese filling and Seedling Farm blueberries to go with it.”

The rhythm of the bakery is what sets it apart. More specifically, the European approach.

“That means at 7am we have a good amount of pastries coming out, we will have more throughout the morning. At 9am, we have fresh bread coming out of the oven. At 10 a.m. we start setting up savory food, so toast and the Big Sandwich,” he said.

Big is an understatement.

You tell them how much to cut and you pay by the ounce. The bread that day was covered in oregano mayo, topped with pickled green tomatoes, roasted summer squash, smoked turkey and chipotle kumquat sauce, with cotija cheese and arugula. Lighter appetites should come later in the day.

“Around 1 p.m., we start making jamon butter sandwiches. So super tasty ham, butter, cheese sandwich on a minute old baguette,” Wade said.

When you bring the bread home, cut it up, put it in a zip-top bag, and freeze it, suggests Dolinsky. Then simply grill over high heat when you’re ready to eat.

Here’s where you can go:

Publican Quality Bread

1759 W. Grand Ave.

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily


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