The Food Guy: West Town Bakery With a European Approach

The Food Guy: West Town Bakery With a European Approach

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

Publican Quality Bread recently moved into a massive new space, where it’s a gluten fiesta all day long.

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

“We make a lot of bread. We’re doing 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 whole thing is sourdough bread or naturally leavened bread featuring local farms, whole grains. So that means a honey and oat porridge, that means a multi-grain, that means 100% seeded rye,” he said.

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

There is coffee and espresso as well, which goes well with orange-scented kouign amann or any of their flaky, laminated doughs with almond paste or chocolate.

Wade’s philosophy is simple.

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

Like tarts embedded with heirloom tomatoes or open-faced tartines loaded with spring peas and onions, or earthy mushrooms and cheese. Consider the heritage cornmeal Danish.

“Buttery Danish, amplified by the corn, but then we’ve got a fantastic cream cheese filling and Seedling Farm blueberries that go in it.”

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

“That means right at 7 a.m., we’ve got a fair amount of pastries coming out, we’ll have more throughout the morning. At 9 a.m., we have fresh bread coming out of the oven. At 10 a.m. we start putting up savory foods so tartines and the Big Sandwich,” he said.

Big is an understatement.

You tell them how much to cut, and you pay by the ounce. On this day, bread was shmeared with oregano mayo, layered with pickled green tomato, roasted summer squash, smoked turkey and chipotle kumquat sauce, with some cotija cheese and arugula. Lighter appetites should come later in the day.

“Around 1-ish in the afternoon then we start doing jamon beurre sandwiches. So super tasty ham, butter, cheese sandwich on a minutes-old baguette,” Wade said.

When you get the bread home, slice it, place in a zip-lock bag and freeze it, Dolinsky suggests. Then just toast on high when you’re ready to eat.

Here’s where you can go:

Publican Quality Bread

1759 W. Grand Ave.

7 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily

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