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Best baguette?

cintwan Jul 20, 2009 11:57 AM

What are your opinions of the best baguette in the Boston area? I just returned from a trip to Montréal, where I fell in love with the 36-hour baguette from Au Pain Doré, and have decided that I need to go on a quest for delicious crusty and chewy goodness!

  1. finlero Jul 20, 2009 12:03 PM

    Tied for 1st: Clear Flour and B&R.
    Respectable 2nd: Iggy's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: finlero
      yumyum Jul 30, 2009 08:28 AM

      Clear Flour just won "Best of Boston" but I prefer B+R, which was runner up.

      Also, I sent you an email. Come on back good buddy. Over.

    2. c
      ChocolateMilkshake Jul 20, 2009 12:04 PM

      Clear Flour has been my favorite for awhile now.

      Clear Flour Bread Bakery
      178 Thorndike St, Brookline, MA 02446

      1. z
        Zatan Jul 20, 2009 12:07 PM

        Clearflour! Sometimes they don't even make it all the way home, love to just eat them straight. Iggy's ain't bad. Waiting to try B&R.....

        1. k
          kimfair1 Jul 20, 2009 12:10 PM

          Another vote for Clear Flour. Forgive me ignorance, but what is B&R?

          2 Replies
          1. re: kimfair1
            Prav Jul 20, 2009 12:14 PM


            1. re: Prav
              kimfair1 Jul 21, 2009 10:37 AM


          2. a
            autopi Jul 20, 2009 12:26 PM

            We like Clear Flour a lot, and prefer it by a nose to B&R.
            Echoing finlero, Iggy's is a respectable--but in my view, somewhat distant--second.

            That said, there are some other worthy bakeries where we have not yet tried the baguettes (though have tried other things): Annarosa in Newburyport very likely has awesome baguettes; A&J King in Salem; and Fornax in Roslindale. Actually, there's a good likelihood that any or all of those would beat out iggy's.

            If you are stuck with Iggy's, I'd go for the Francese myself.

            p.s. this is not to be harsh on Iggy's. Rather, it's a reflection of the Boston areas strength in bakeries.

            2 Replies
            1. re: autopi
              StriperGuy Jul 20, 2009 12:59 PM

              "Rather, it's a reflection of the Boston areas strength in bakeries."

              That is something I thought I would NEVER hear when I first moved to Boston... we've come a long way baby.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                Karl S Jul 20, 2009 02:17 PM

                Yes, indeed. When I moved here in 1983, I was stunned at the apparent dearth of good bread bakeries.

            2. b
              bakerboyz Jul 20, 2009 12:48 PM

              I would go with B & R or the small artisan bakery in Salem, MA (I forget their name).

              1 Reply
              1. re: bakerboyz
                Northshoregirl Jul 20, 2009 01:41 PM

                The bakery in Salem is A&J King.

              2. C. Hamster Jul 20, 2009 01:07 PM

                I am in danger of having my paycheck made out to Clear Flour directly. They would take most of it and give me a small monthly stipend for other essentials.

                1 Reply
                1. re: C. Hamster
                  chowcat Jul 20, 2009 01:27 PM

                  other essentials? do you mean, like, butter?

                2. BobB Jul 20, 2009 01:38 PM

                  I'm a Clear Flour junkie and eat their bread almost exclusively, but I have to say their standard baguette is one of their weaker offerings. Their Ancienne Baguette (darker, crisper, with great pointy ends) comes closer to what I've gotten in the French countryside, but it's only available a few days a week.

                  When I'm in the mood for smoky, crusty white I more often go for their Rustic Italian.

                  1. yumyum Jul 20, 2009 02:05 PM

                    Add me to the B+R fan club. You can pick those up at Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square among other places.

                    Someone needs to invite me to a horizontal Clear Flour / B+R / Iggy's tasting.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: yumyum
                      teezeetoo Jul 20, 2009 04:13 PM

                      clear flour wins for me and I do prefer the Ancienne Baguette but also love their garlic black sesame sticks (I think thursdays and saturdays only) - for rye bread, When Pigs Fly makes a great NY Rye. Iggy's wins on its raisin pecan but has gotten weaker rather than stronger on its baguettes and ficelles (seem flabbier lately). croissants: Japonnaise and Canto 6.

                      1. re: teezeetoo
                        wrenhunter Jul 20, 2009 06:36 PM

                        Can't agree on Iggy's ficelles, they are still one of my faves.

                        For baguettes, I like the one from Blue Frog Bakery in JP. Not classic, but has a great crust and a nice red wheat "bite".

                        1. re: wrenhunter
                          galleygirl Jul 21, 2009 07:14 AM

                          Another vote for Iggy's ficelles. Also the Francese (the larger, the better) as the quintessential bread. I think the crust on Iggy's gets softer faster than some of the others (don't know why) but a quick 5 min.blast in a 300 degree oven makes it a thing of beauty again...

                    2. Chris VR Jul 20, 2009 05:19 PM

                      No love yet for Mamadou's? I suppose Winchester is a bit off the beaten track but it's a baguette that's worth the trip... only about 5 minutes from 93.

                      For some reason the Place record won't come up, but here's a link: http://www.chow.com/places/42441

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Chris VR
                        PinchOfSalt Jul 20, 2009 05:41 PM

                        Those who might find Winchester a bit out of the way may be interested to know that Mamadou's sells at the Arlington Farmer's Market on Wednesdays and the Belmont Farmer's Market on Thursdays. The baguettes are quite good but my fave is the raisin pecan. To die for!

                        1. re: PinchOfSalt
                          nonaggie Jul 22, 2009 01:14 PM

                          I agree;we love both the baguettes and the raisin pecan bread from Mamadou's.

                      2. n
                        Northstar22 Jul 20, 2009 10:56 PM

                        Russo's sells those Baguettes from Au Pain Dore and I know Grill 23 and the Palm among others serve them in their Restaurants. I am a Huge fan as well.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Northstar22
                          mollyditty Jul 21, 2009 11:14 AM

                          Ohhhh, great to know a little more about those baguettes at Russo's. I think they top my list of any baguettes I've had in the area. amazing crust, sweet/buttery insides....just delightful. And of course, when paired with a yummy cheese from the amazing cheese-guy....well, watch out world!

                        2. c
                          cintwan Jul 21, 2009 07:10 AM

                          So I went to Clear Flour last night and got a traditional French baguette, and I actually was not that impressed - the baguettes looked darker than their demi- and ficelle counterparts, so perhaps the batch that I'd gotten had just been slightly overbaked, but the crust was hard and slightly rubbery and the inside a tad dry. I'm willing to try again, though - anyone have any tips on a time of day to go? I also can't wait to try their Ancienne French.

                          Also, their pizza dough was fabulous - by the time I biked back to Cambridge, the dough had risen and was all bubbly and yeasty and felt great. The pizza that we made for dinner was delicious - soft and chewy to just the perfect degree. It's only $2.75 for enough dough for a 15-inch pizza - totally worth it if you don't have time to make your own!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: cintwan
                            finlero Jul 21, 2009 07:17 AM

                            This time of year in Boston is pretty rough on baked goods. While I'm not familiar with Clear Flour's baking schedules, I think it's safe to say that if you go as close to when they open at 8 a.m. as possible, you'll have the best luck. As the autumn approaches and the humidity drops a bit, your baguette longevity [hey, did I just invent my own index?] should increase.

                            1. re: cintwan
                              autopi Jul 21, 2009 08:15 AM

                              if you are in cambridge, you can get clear flour baguettes from pemberton farms, on mass ave. of course, it's nice to go to the bakery itself from time to time too.

                              1. re: autopi
                                BobB Jul 21, 2009 08:47 AM

                                The also sell them in Union Sq, Somerville at Capone Foods.

                            2. steinpilz Jul 21, 2009 03:02 PM

                              Some (maybe all?) Whole Foods markets make fresh baguettes, the one on Beacon Street in Newton does this and I love picking up a warm loaf there. I do have to try Clear Flour, what I've had from Iggy's, sour dough baguetts, was very good.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: steinpilz
                                galleygirl Jul 21, 2009 03:16 PM

                                Yeah, but they're par-baked.....

                                1. re: steinpilz
                                  StriperGuy Jul 21, 2009 03:39 PM

                                  Would not feed a Whole Foods Baguette to my pet hamster.

                                  1. re: autopi
                                    joebloe Jul 21, 2009 04:32 PM

                                    I like the $1 freshbaked 2ft long baguette from King Do in Dorchester. I have tried different kinds from different places at much higher costs but they're just not worth whatever taste difference. Any of them will go well with those fresh packaged countrystyle pate from Quebec/Montreal, which I used to but recently have yet to find here. There's a Whole Foods grand opening at Legacy Mall near my home so I'll give the baguette there a try.

                                    1. re: joebloe
                                      galleygirl Jul 21, 2009 04:44 PM

                                      Luckily, the Whole Foods will carry lots of other baguettes as well. They are good as Muzak, background bread that won't take away from whatever you serve on them...

                                    2. re: StriperGuy
                                      Delhiwala Jul 22, 2009 03:11 PM

                                      I agree - the Whole Foods baguette is always disappointing.

                                    3. re: steinpilz
                                      steinpilz Jul 22, 2009 01:50 PM

                                      LOL, I knew I'd get knocked for suggesting Whole Foods baguette (because I've done it before)!

                                      I'd thought of adding some sort of protective disclaimer as I know that Iggy's is better, and am sure that the Clear Flour one is also.

                                    4. t
                                      teezeetoo Jul 21, 2009 06:59 PM

                                      i think Spot Cafe on Main Street in Watertown which is a fine little breakfast place serves and sells Au Pain Dore

                                      1. a
                                        ashbee Jul 22, 2009 11:42 AM

                                        Wilson Farm in Lexington makes very good baguettes, and they often have them fresh and hot. Another bonus is their ready to bake refrigerated breads and rolls so you can make them "fresh from the oven".

                                        1. c
                                          celeriac Jul 23, 2009 07:52 PM

                                          I systematically tried the baguettes from Iggy's, B&R and Clear Flour this winter after I made a big match of rillettes, and B&R was my winner hands down with great depth of flavor, nice hole structure and a good crackley texture on the outside. Iggy's was OK, but a bit too soft and chewy for a baguette, in my book. Clear Flour's really didn't do much for me, as I found it bland.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: celeriac
                                            9lives Jul 24, 2009 09:23 AM

                                            I prefer B&R too. Salumeria Italiana in the NE carries B&R, Iggy's and Clear Flour...for anyone that wants to easily try all 3..:)

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