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Best bakeries in Boston area?

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prima_donna87 May 4, 2011 01:49 PM

I am a baker from the Midwest and am taking a trip out to the New England area in two weeks and I was wondering if anyone could steer me towards some good local bakeries.
I am particularly looking for bakeries that sell sourdough breads but am also interested in different ethnic bakeries.

I also have friends who were telling me about some awesome German (?) bakery near Blue Hills Nature Reserve that sold delicious pastries and such,they could not remember the name of it but said they mainly did wedding cakes but had some excellent pastries as well.

  1. s
    scotty27 May 12, 2011 05:31 AM

    Certainly the one world class bakery is Hi-Rise: Rye, Challah, Flute. Next tier are B&R: Baguette; Iggy's: pizza, ciabatta; Flour; Clear Flour; Swiss Baker. I stopped buying from Clear Flour a couple of years back because the crusts started getting thin and soft, but their breads are a cut above most.

    www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

    1. l
      lucywellington May 9, 2011 05:37 PM

      My favorite bread is at a very hidden (back of a warehouse-y looking building & and martial arts studio in Watertown) location- milk bread at Danish Pastry House. Great macaroons too.

      -----
      Danish Pastry House
      205 Arlington St, Watertown, MA 02472

      1 Reply
      1. re: lucywellington
        v
        veggielover May 10, 2011 07:59 AM

        I forgot about this bakery and I love their very dark, European bread. Everything else is too sweet for me.

      2. atg106 May 7, 2011 11:32 AM

        I recently enjoyed Madrid Bakery on the Sudbury/Marlborough line on Rt 20. They have two classic Spanish cakes which are unbelievable. They have decent truffles in addition.

        1. a
          astrid May 7, 2011 11:20 AM

          I love Massis Bakery (Armenian) in Watertown -- particularly their spinach feta bouregs. I'm not a baklava expert, but if you are in the area, there are a number of places to sample the wares within blocks of each other, though I don't know if they all make their own. Massis, Arax, Sevan and Eastern Lahmejun. Also check out Sofra, which is a traditional bakery with turkish flavors -- the flavor combos don't all work, but it's pretty interesting stuff.

          Flour (not "Clear Flour") is the popular choice -- they have a PR machine so they always make "Best of Boston"-type lists. Their stuff is pretty good, but not mind-blowing.

          Also, I LOVE Canto 6. I think I have lost 5 lbs since moving away from living around the corner from it.

          -----
          Sofra
          1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

          Massis Bakery
          569 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

          1 Reply
          1. re: astrid
            PinchOfSalt May 7, 2011 12:14 PM

            Second the motion for the spinach feta bouregs at Massis Bakery!

            Also, I stopped by Arax a few days ago, and amid all the yummies there, found a heap of STILL WARM lamejuns. I loved how they were a bit crispy (just short of charred) at the edges. So good!

            I do highly recommend a visit to the trinity of middle-eastern food shops (Sevan, Arax, Massis) all within a two block stretch of Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown. While I know there is a large Arab population in the Detroit area, as far as I know we have the second largest Armenian community in the US (after LA). If you visit I am sure you will find cookies, stuffed breads, flat breads, and other baked items that you would probably not find at home. Good stuff!

            -----
            Massis Bakery
            569 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

          2. g
            Guinness02122 May 6, 2011 10:04 AM

            Kondetor Meister is gross. There's a place across from R.F. O'Sullivan's (nice burgers) in Somerville named Petsi's Pies which I thought was tremendous. Also, Modern Pastry in the North End.

            -----
            Modern Pastry
            257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

            2 Replies
            1. re: Guinness02122
              StriperGuy May 6, 2011 10:24 AM

              Thanks for saying what I was thinking. Disgusting amounts of lousy frosting on crappy cake. That's KM.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                g
                Guinness02122 May 6, 2011 10:56 AM

                Right. Never knew the fascination. I liked This Takes The Cake in Quincy before they shut down.

            2. s
              skordalia May 6, 2011 06:54 AM

              fornax bakery in roslindale makes excellent sourdough. vouros greek bakery nearby is great too.

              1. CocoDan May 5, 2011 07:43 AM

                If your trip to "New England" brings you to Cape Cod, you should make it a point to stop in on Pain D'Avignon in Hyannis. It's near the airport rotary on Hinckley Rd. Amazing breads and pasteries, and if it's mealtime, they have a wonderful food in their cafe'. Worth the trip (90 min. from Boston).
                Enjoy,
                CocoDAn

                10 Replies
                1. re: CocoDan
                  s
                  southie_chick May 5, 2011 06:56 PM

                  Haven't been to the Japonaise bakery on Beacon Street Brookline but I used to love the cream shoku bread (I think that's what it was called) from the store they used to have in Porter Square. Maybe someone can chime in on if the Brookline one is worth a visit.

                  1. re: southie_chick
                    t
                    teezeetoo May 6, 2011 05:26 AM

                    already recommended japonaise above. find it excellent, reliable and unique in its products. they make very good croissants, an excellent cranberry walnut bread, good baguettes and addictive ahn doughnuts.

                    1. re: southie_chick
                      Berheenia May 10, 2011 02:37 PM

                      The actual baking is done in their Comm Ave. shop in Allston but the Brookline shop carries a larger variety in house. The donuts are especially noteworthy and the ham and cheese croissants and strawberry cheesecake are Sunday favorites in our house.

                      1. re: Berheenia
                        Allstonian May 10, 2011 03:42 PM

                        So when they opened Comm. Ave. they moved the baking operation there? Seems odd, since Beacon Street is the original location. Or did they never do any actual baking at Beacon Street?

                        1. re: Allstonian
                          Berheenia May 11, 2011 03:42 AM

                          Comm Ave was always the site where the actual baking was done - they added the storefront cafe but continue to use the ovens in the back.

                          1. re: Berheenia
                            t
                            teezeetoo May 11, 2011 06:18 AM

                            this is odd because i often find the beacon street location has bread that the commonwealth location doesn't carry (the cranberry walnut rolls for example). there is also a large set of bakery ovens in the back of the beacon street cafe: do they just bake frozen stuff coming over from commonwealth?

                            1. re: Berheenia
                              Allstonian May 11, 2011 06:31 AM

                              Okay, I'm totally confused. So for 20+ years, Japonaise Bakery has been doing its baking in the back of the Comm. Ave. storefront, even as various other restaurants have moved in and out of that same space?

                              1. re: Allstonian
                                Berheenia May 11, 2011 08:05 AM

                                When they opened on Comm Ave I went for lunch and they told me that this was where they had been baking for years for the Beacon Street and now defunct Porter Square bakeries and that they had decided to rent the adjacent storefront for a third cafe. So the answer is yes but I don't know if they've been there for 20 years.

                        2. re: southie_chick
                          opinionatedchef May 11, 2011 11:50 PM

                          i'm addicted (as are a number of other CHs to their 'adzuki creams' and I also love their curry beef donuts but i tried their plain and chocolate donuts a few months ago and they were dry and horrid; i tossed them.

                        3. re: CocoDan
                          h
                          hyde May 8, 2011 01:42 AM

                          be aware that these driving times are optimal as it took me 3 1/2 hours to drive from barnstable to boston this last friday afternoon and has taken as much as six hours to drive from the woods hole ferry landing to boston on sunday of a holiday weekend.

                        4. g
                          galka May 5, 2011 06:24 AM

                          P&B Bulangerie in Wellfleet on the Cape may be worth a dirve- their breads and pastries are out of this world and the baker, Boris Villatte is always there. I never tried anything of this caliber in Boston

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: galka
                            f
                            frond May 7, 2011 12:57 PM

                            I thought the pastries at P&B were good but not great. I don't think it is worth driving to Wellfleet just for that unless one wanted to visit Cape Cod for its sights.

                            1. re: galka
                              StriperGuy May 7, 2011 04:11 PM

                              If that is the place in the little strip mall I totally disagree that it is worth the drive. Passable by Boston standards but not even slightly exceptional.

                            2. justbeingpolite May 5, 2011 06:09 AM

                              Sweet Thyme bakery in Lexington is a beautiful little bakery. Gorgeous, art-like milk bread for french toast!

                              1. opinionatedchef May 4, 2011 05:37 PM

                                hi donna, here are some threads that may interest you:

                                ONE CHOWHOUND’S GUIDE to Boston areas and restnts:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781155

                                Boston Food Profile:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781156

                                Ideas for Food Souvenirs;
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781171

                                Both Iggy's and Clearflour make Boston's best french, sourdough etc breads. The bakery that I think is a MUST for you, because it is sooo different, is When Pigs Fly. It is described in the Food Souvenirs link above. Very exciting place for a baker who gets jazzed by creativity. The Iggy's owners are the nicest people imaginable ; they run quite an empire now, supplying stores, restaurants etc. It would not surprise me if you called them and they offered to meet you/show you their facility. For ethnic bakeries, I would suggest you go to our long established Armenian/Greek/Turkish/Lebanese community of Belmont/Watertown (5 min. from Iggy's headquarters) Worthwhile and interesting sweets and savories can be found at: Eastern Lamejun Bakers, Sevan Bakery, Arax Bakery, Sophia's Market, all of which are located in a 5 minute radius.
                                For a higher quality bakery that does excellent wedding cakes- Vicki Lee's is also a 5 minute drive from the Armenian Bakeries. You will read references to others in the long thread here:

                                Here is a very long thread about Boston Bakeries, fyi.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/694363

                                thread on strangest sweets in boston:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781085

                                May is a particularly beautiful month here; welcome in advance!

                                -----
                                Eastern Lamejun Bakers
                                145 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478

                                Sevan Bakery
                                599 Mount Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                Vicki Lee's
                                105 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                  a
                                  autopi May 4, 2011 08:15 PM

                                  if the OP is interested in sourdough bread baking, i'm not sure when pigs fly is really that interesting. my impression is that they basically do one fairly standard straight dough and just put in 38 different combinations of add ins. not that it's bad bread or anything, just not super exciting from a bread baking angle.

                                  i would say that for breads in the boston area, try: clear flour, hi rise, a&j king and most definitely annarosa's out in newburyport. i think all of them do sourdough based breads. if you go to hi rise, go to the huron village location -- it's fun to watch the baking in progress there.

                                  1. re: autopi
                                    cassis May 5, 2011 05:17 AM

                                    You might also be interested in Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord as they make slow rise levain breads of many types, I especially love the long rustic breads they make for restaurants. They also offer sandwiches, baked goods, coffee. Their website is www.slowrise.com/.

                                    -----
                                    Nashoba Brook Bakery Cafe
                                    152 Commonwealth Ave., Concord, MA 01742

                                    1. re: cassis
                                      b
                                      bear May 5, 2011 05:47 AM

                                      Nashoba's olive bread is really delicious. They add carmelized onions, and the sour dough flavor really shines through.

                                    2. re: autopi
                                      j
                                      Jenny Ondioline May 5, 2011 10:34 AM

                                      Yeah, I like When Pigs Fly quite a bit, but honestly, it's the Coldstone Creamery of bakeries: the mix-ins are pretty much the whole point.

                                  2. Allstonian May 4, 2011 02:17 PM

                                    That would be Konditor Meister, in Braintree. As a matter of fact, they made my own wedding cake, nine years ago today. http://www.konditormeister.com/ As gourmaniac says, they're not all that German, except for the name.

                                    Swissbakers is more of an ethnic bakery, you might find them interesting: http://www.swissbakers.com/index.php There's also Sweet Mandel Bakery, which is actually German, but they don't have a shop, they're a home-based baking business: http://sweetmandel.com/home

                                    Clear Flour Bread in Brookline has a nice French-style sourdough. http://clearflourbread

                                    When Pigs Fly is headquartered in York, ME, but has two Boston-area outlets, in Somerville and Brookline. http://www.sendbread.com/home.php

                                    There are quite a few ethnic bakeries as well - particularly Brazilian bakeries and some very good Chinese bakeries. Yi Soon in Allston is Taiwanese and has a lot of wonderful items.

                                    I'm sure others on the board will chime in with suggestions as well.

                                    15 Replies
                                    1. re: Allstonian
                                      t
                                      teezeetoo May 4, 2011 04:52 PM

                                      if you run a search you'll find several long threads here on bakeries in the area. beyond bread (and the recommendations so far are right on for bread) you might want to explore our armenian and turkish baked goods and Japonaise which is an excellent bakery that blends japanese and french approaches to pastry.

                                      1. re: teezeetoo
                                        l
                                        lc02139 May 4, 2011 07:46 PM

                                        I'm glad that other people recommended Sophia's she makes great cookies and greek treats on site and is a really sweet woman, Eldo cake house in China town makes a good whipcream fruit cake that I love for birthday cakes.

                                        -----
                                        Iggy's
                                        130 Fawcett St, Cambridge, MA

                                        Sophia's Greek Pantry
                                        267 Belmont Street, Belmont, MA

                                        Eldo Cake House
                                        36 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA

                                      2. re: Allstonian
                                        p
                                        prima_donna87 May 6, 2011 05:44 AM

                                        Konditor Meister sounds like it should be the place,we will have to check it out,even if they are not that German.:)
                                        Both Swissbakers and Sweet Mandel Bakery look really good,I wish Sweet Mandel had a store!

                                        Do you know any Brazilian bakeries off the top of your head that I could look into?
                                        Thank-you so much for your suggestions,I really appreciate them!

                                        1. re: prima_donna87
                                          t
                                          teezeetoo May 6, 2011 06:14 AM

                                          paderia brasil in allston should give you a taste of brasil.

                                          1. re: prima_donna87
                                            StriperGuy May 6, 2011 07:00 AM

                                            I personally think Konditor Meister is terrible. Gobs of sugary butter cream. Nothing noteworthy. I wouldn't drive a mile for their stuff.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              b
                                              Billie Jean May 6, 2011 10:51 AM

                                              It is pedestrian and not worth the trip.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                opinionatedchef May 7, 2011 08:43 PM

                                                I was really hoping someone was going to say this. I don't believe they use real swiss or italian meringue buttercreams, based on 100% butter, sugar syrup and egg white or egg yolk base. I think Vicki Lee does, however, which is why i recommended her bakery.

                                                For a worthwhile non French style bakery, I thiink you'd enjoy the artisanal authenticity of Modern Bakery in our North End Italian area.In particular, their sfoliadel(sp.)-a three corner hat of layered crunchy pastry filled w/ a thick pastry cream) uses a very unusual pastry technique.Their torrone and almond biscotti are also excellent and their cannoli not too sweet. Their owner/baker is a pale face old fellow now; been doing this for 50+yrs.They also do a lovely display of marzipan fruit.

                                                Personally I find the Brazilian bakeries' products pretty awful (except for their soft sweet breads).The Japonaise Patisserie has an amazing addictive pastry invented by them- that has a cadre of CH fans- a danish dough filled with adzuki bean paste(traditional Japanese filling of sweetened red bean paste) and whipped cream. Their curry beef donuts are also excellent (when reheated). They also do a number of French influenced cake based pastries. The Whole Foods Market (Fresh Pond, Cambridge, 5 min. from Iggy's Bakery) also has a huge bakery area with many worthwhile items and LOTS to see.

                                                Also, do read the long thread i linked to in my other post because it is alot of CHs' take on the boston bakery scene today.

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/694363

                                                -----
                                                Vicki Lee's
                                                105 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                  Science Chick May 12, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                  There are some great recs here from opinionatedchef, but I would have to disagree with the Whole Foods one. Their items look lovely, but are sorely lacking in taste and are overly sweet. With so many great independent bakeries in the area, I would not put that one on my list.

                                                  1. re: Science Chick
                                                    Allstonian May 12, 2011 06:45 AM

                                                    I have to agree with Science Chick - every time I've ever been seduced by a WF bakery item I've been disappointed.

                                                    1. re: Allstonian
                                                      b
                                                      bear May 12, 2011 09:09 AM

                                                      I also agree on most of the Whole Foods bakery items. Meh.

                                                      1. re: bear
                                                        Science Chick May 12, 2011 09:58 AM

                                                        Yeah, it's really weird that this "wholesome" place doesn't reflect that philosophy in their baked goods. Some awesome in-house whole grain muffins, cakes would really set them apart from other bakeries.

                                                    2. re: Science Chick
                                                      opinionatedchef May 12, 2011 10:11 AM

                                                      hmmm. i have bought very few sweets from them but a few have been good.And I think they do some interesting breads.

                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                        Science Chick May 12, 2011 10:19 AM

                                                        Their breads are ok, but kinda pale in comparison to Iggy's or Clear Flour. I seem to recall that none of their breads uses a sour starter, which I happen to prefer. The Washington St. Newton store stopped carrying many of the Iggy's breads, to try and force purchase of their products instead. This really annoyed me, as I don't think they are comparable (re: sour starter). The Beacon/Walnut store still carries a nice Iggy's selection, so I tend to pickup my bread over there instead.

                                                        1. re: Science Chick
                                                          t
                                                          teezeetoo May 12, 2011 10:28 AM

                                                          marty's right next door to wh beacon/walnut usually has a good selection of clear flour. not a wf fan: don't care for their bread or their sweets. i've tried and found them disappointing in spite of lovely exterior looks.

                                                          1. re: Science Chick
                                                            opinionatedchef May 12, 2011 10:40 AM

                                                            Yep, i'm iggy's , hook, line and sinker. Francese is my only/always. But how I wish they would diversify their line (tomato bread; curry bread; chocolate, pecan, cherry(they did this MANY years ago at xmas.) Twenty five yrs ago, as a commercial customer, I went to an xmas party they threw their staff. Those owners are just the BEST of people, so I love that i love their breads.

                                                            Other than Iggy's, i get Pigs Fly sauerkraut rye and dark rye and occasionally sample others; My Love's go-to is their Harvest. Really admire their products. I am a sourdough girl all the way(and the WF breads i tried and liked years ago were sour starter breads.)

                                              2. g
                                                gourmaniac May 4, 2011 02:15 PM

                                                Konditor Meister may be the German Bakery but it isn't particularly German. My favorite bakery in town is Canto Six in Jamaica Plain.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: gourmaniac
                                                  t
                                                  twentyoystahs May 4, 2011 05:38 PM

                                                  I second Canto 6. Amazing.

                                                  1. re: gourmaniac
                                                    p
                                                    pariss May 6, 2011 08:42 AM

                                                    I believe all of the bread at Canto 6 comes from Clear Flour (not a bad thing).
                                                    They make their own awesome pastries though.

                                                    1. re: gourmaniac
                                                      p
                                                      prima_donna87 May 13, 2011 06:48 PM

                                                      I will have to try Canto Six,they sound really good.

                                                    2. l
                                                      lc02139 May 4, 2011 02:12 PM

                                                      Iggy's factory store in Cambridge near fresh pond has good sour dough, as does Clear flour in brookline. You will only see counter people at Iggy's so Clear flour might be better if you want to talk to people.
                                                      here is an old link about sourdough

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/457583

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: lc02139
                                                        p
                                                        prima_donna87 May 4, 2011 02:17 PM

                                                        Thank-you for the recommendations! I looked into both and they both look really good.I will try to visit them while I am in Boston.

                                                        1. re: lc02139
                                                          p
                                                          prima_donna87 May 6, 2011 05:39 AM

                                                          Both Iggy's and Clean Flour look delicious! Thank-you for the suggestion I will have to check them both out when I am out there!

                                                          1. re: prima_donna87
                                                            k
                                                            kimfair1 May 6, 2011 07:21 AM

                                                            They are both great. It is Clear Flour, not "Clean" however. You'll have difficulty finding it without the proper name.

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