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Aug 21, 2008 05:08 PM

Richmond, VA: where to find Billy bread?

Hi, (y')all. Long-time Richmond res who moved away several years ago, returning to RVA for a wedding this weekend for the first time since moving. I've been tasked by the spouse with bringing back several loaves of billy bread. This was always readily available at Ellwood Thompson, but I seem to remember reading in Style Weekly around the time we moved ('05) that the baker was setting up his own bake shop. Has this come to pass? Can I still get it at ET?

It's a wonderful loaf of bread, it goes without saying.

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  1. Unfamiliar with Billy Bread. What makes in wonderful?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Potomac Bob

      Billy Bread is sooooooooooo good. It's an artisan bread. It has a rough, dark crust with an rich sourdough-like inside. Really good for sandwiches (Ipanema has a few), sopping up pasta sauce, toasted for dips and makes the best egg in a basket you have ever had.

      hassenpfeffer: Billy bread has a new owner now but it's still the same recipe.
      Ellwood Thompsons and Ukrops in Carytown also sells Billy Bread.

    2. agreed. i moved here in 2005 and don't know it. of course i don't regularly shop at ellwood's. would love info.

      1. You can still get it at Ellwood Thompson. Billy Bread is a local crusty bread and is served with dinners at Millie's Diner, Edo's Squid and a number of other places in town. It's one of those Richmond things.......LOL

        1. Ha! Goes to show how dependent I've become on Chow that I queried here before googling!

          Yes, it is the house bread at Millie's, Edo's, and, IIRC, Comfort as well. A rustic, oblong loaf with sharply tapered ends, made from — as close as I can tell — a fermented rye starter, and as good a loaf of bread as I've had from Acme Bread Co, Zingermans and elsewhere. A nice description, courtesy of an article in Style from last year:

          "Thick-crusted Billy Bread is delivered daily to Ukrop’s and is also available at Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market. It’s a rougher bread — a dark, dusty brown on the outside, full of holes and rich flavor inside, best suited for sauces, long-simmered stews and big, bold red wines."


          So, anyone been to the bakery at the 17th St. FM?

          2 Replies
          1. re: hassenpfeffer

            We had brunch a Lulu's a couple of weeks ago and stopped by the FM at 17th street and were sooooo disappointed. It was a glorified yard sale at best. I would have been pissed if I'd driven down just for that. The Forest Hill Farmer's Market is getting some very good press and a good reputation but I haven't been yet.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              LOL. The 17th St FM never was much to write home about during my entire 12-year tenure in Richmond. So much potential ... sad to hear they still haven't gotten it together in the intervening years.

          2. Thanks to all for your help. Back at home in Pittsburgh, PA, I'll shortly be enjoying some Billy bread with a roast chicken and a nice Fixin from Kermit Lynch's catalog...

            As it turned out, I was able to pick up a couple loaves at Once Upon A Vine, Bob (formerly of Price's Market in the Fan) Kocher's fine little neighborhood wine shop on the North Side, just a few blocks from where I was staying.

            Also, just wanted to shout out that I dined solo last night at Millie's, and was extremely pleased to see that this place continues to just get everything right. It was like visiting an old friend. I hope Richmonders don't take it for granted — judging by the crowd last night, they don't. The pan-seared cobia over pozole was spectacular.

            4 Replies
            1. re: hassenpfeffer

              Millie's is definitely an old friend :-) Glad you had a good meal and found your Billy bread. We had dinner at Edo's last night and thought of this thread while enjoying my Billy bread doused in olive oil. Doesn't get much better than that!

              1. re: hassenpfeffer

                If you live in Pittsburgh, have you tried Breadworks Bread? I grew up there and now live in Richmond and dream of the Breadworks stuff. Mancini's too, but Breadworks is my style. I love me some Billy Bread, but I'd trade it for Breadworks any day.

                1. re: princsoreo

                  the description sounds like mediterra mt athos fire bread which i know people rave about in cleveland but is from pittsburgh. they like the other mediterra (or something very close to that) breads too.

                  1. re: princsoreo

                    For Pittsburgh bread, I prefer Mediterra Bake Houses's fire bread, which someone else has referenced, and buy it by the half-loaf at the Firehouse FM every Saturday morning. It, too, is excellent — the kind of bread I'll crave when the day eventually comes that I leave Pittsburgh.

                    Breadworks, from what I've tasted, I'm kind of indifferent to ... is there a loaf you would recommend to change my mind?