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New Swiss Bakers in Allston

I am more suspicious and mistrusting of the claim " a great bakery" than any other specialty area in the food world. After reading in March Openings about the new Swiss Bakers, we stopped by this huge sleek car showroom-like space this afternoon.Their website showed ingredients for most of their products, and they use 100% unsalted butter (no crisco or oil) so I wanted to sample a few things.

While the structure of their croissants is not as flaky layered as I prefer, their product is still very good. The Almond Paste Chocolate variety combines both components in a very satisfying way, as does the Ham and Cheese. As part of their exceedingly friendly upbeat service style, they offered to reheat my croissants (in an oven, not a microwave) and that step really improved the products, giving them a delicate exterior crunch. Their leek and bacon quiche had a creamy flavorful filling and the crust was very good though I would prefer more filling and less crust.I was surprised that they put mozzarella in theirs instead of gruyere("we want the leek to be the main flavor") but still, a lovely hand quiche for $2.50 felt very fair.

As they expand their products, I'm sure this spot will do quite a brisk business.

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  1. thanks for that.
    since I am new to the area, I'd be thrilled if you list a few excellent spots to explore - as you say - "a great bakery" :-)

    Cheers!

    23 Replies
    1. re: Owlette10

      For great bread in the area try Clear Flour Bakery. For baked goods I like Flour.

      1. re: Klunco

        2 different places?
        in brookline?

        is there really so few options?

        1. re: Owlette10

          Flour isn't in Brookline but rather in Cambridge and Boston, although Tatte Bakery and Japonais both in Brookline are worth checking out.

          As far as Clear Flour, I'm not sure how high your standards but I don't take bread lightly. Clear Flour (Brookline), Pain D'Avignon (Hyannis), Iggy's (Cambridge), and Hearth (Plymouth) are the only bakeries I've found that meet my standards besides what I bake at home. Granted if you want hot from the oven Hearth and Pain D'Avignon will be a drive. Blame it on my former French life and being able to buy great bread for little money.

          Also if you go to Clear Flour and are looking for a baguette make sure you get the "Pain D'Ancienne" not the standard baguette.

          1. re: Klunco

            pretty high standards here, too... ;-)

            I also am blamed for being used to the european baking.
            I have not found yet a bakery to fall for, since moving here.

            Have been to Tatte and liked the pastry I tried.
            too bad the coffee isn't great.

            I am taking all your tips and will report back
            Thanks!

            1. re: Klunco

              For bread I would add Hi-Rise in Cambridge (good but pricey), Nashoba Brook in Concord, and AJ King in Salem. For sweets I can't seem to find anything in Boston that really has a solid selection of baked goods.

              Here is an old thread to that effect:

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

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Good call on Nashoba; I knew I was forgetting someone. Hi-rise is fine, but because of their horrible customer service (and to a lesser degree their prices) I refuse to go back.

                Thanks for the AJ King suggestion, I'll have to look them up!

                1. re: Klunco

                  Yah Hi-Rise does repeatedly win the insufferable wienie award.

                2. re: Klunco

                  Just tried Mamadou's in Winchester for the first time... AMAZING bread. They don't have anything else, just loaves of bread. I think it's better than Clear Flour and Iggy's. You have to try it!

                    1. re: Pia

                      Ditto on Mamadou's. They have the best baguettes--better than Iggy's.

                3. re: Klunco

                  For bread only, Bricco on Hanover in the North End. Bread is all they make, all from sourdough starters. Both French and Italian baguettes, Italian breads, flax seed, etc. Also a fantastic olive bread - that's a flat bread with olives. And one like that with cheese and prosciutto. They're working on a rye/pumpernickel. It's down an alley and then down some stairs.

                  1. re: lergnom

                    Oh, you have to try Bricco Panneteria's pancetta and parmesan bread. It's long and thin like a baguette. Also, on Mondays only: their cranberry walnut. Too good.

                4. re: Owlette10

                  sorry i didn't see this til now, but others picked up the ball.
                  For my taste, there is no great bakery in Boston except for bread bakeries.Iggy's is my <genuflect genuflect> for their Francese sourdough; it's my fav of all their products. My Love's Iggy's fav is their cranberry walnut sourdough.They have one retail shop next to their large facility by Fresh Pond, Camb. and they have a few very good dessert pastries there. Unfortunately I am not a fan of their bagels or their croissants but some other CHs are.

                  Clearflour also makes some excellent breads. I am a huge fan of When Pigs Fly bakery which has a retail shop in coolidge corner and davis sq. Their dark rye and sauerkraut rye are my regulars though hard to find. My Love's standard is the Harvest bread.There are tons of interesting,always changing flavors, most made from the same base. Their chocolate bread is terrific too.Their cookies are truly horrid; i have no idea how that happens but it's true.

                  Flour bakery has many CH fans but i am NOT on that bus. Dry, cloyingly sweet, blah, meh, boring are my comments when i try things there so i never do. I really wish i liked Flour because i very much like Joanne's restaurant and her newsletter attitudes and the people she hires at Myers+Chang, but i honestly think sweets are not her strong suit.That said, her croissants can be very good.

                  What Flour tries to be and is not,Vicki Lee Boyajian IS. She is in Belmont and has some very good cookies, and cakes made wth real European buttercreams( no confectioner sugar, crisco or margerine here.) Caillebaut is her chocolate of choice and she lists all her ingreds on the back of every item's display card (which i really admire.)

                  Boston (partic'ly Watertown) has many many lebanese/armenian/and some turkish and greek bakeries and I have tried them all, looking for anything to love. I have found nothing. Ditto the sweets in Chinatown, but there are many CHs who strongly disagree, and with so many choices in those spots, you may find many things you love.(I am a big fan of the savories of all those cultures.) Oh, I have found one delicious cookie- the Melomakarona- at Sophia's in Belmont ,but they are so expensive, i make my own now.
                  I do enjoy a few things at Modern Bakery in the No. End. Sfogliadel and "almond biscotti" and some torrone.

                  I really like the croissants at Trader Joe's- both fresh and frozen/bake-off.

                  Though not a bakery, Formaggio Huron Ave has a very talented head baker, Alice, and her brownies, Orange Choc Tea Cake and various pots de creme can be very good.Her granola is my fav granola i have ever had.

                  I have not been impressed by anyth at Tatte.

                  A few of Whole Foods pastries can be very good.Dave's Pasta in Davis Sq has my most fav/have to have it sweet- Panforte, which they make themselves and mostly year round. Like Formaggio, Dave's also sells fresh cookies from many makers; none have impressed me. A number of CHs are fans of cookie vendors that sell at various Farmers Markets; i'm looking forward to trying some myself.

                  Japonaise Bakery in Brookline has a few good items. I love their adzuki creams.

                  In the So. End, Lee Napoli, one of our most talented Boston long -time pastry chefs, has a lovely chocolates store and she makes tiny batches of superlative croissants and other whims-on wkends.

                  Welcome to Boston ,where an excellent sweets bakery we do not have, but then there are those few delights that can be discovered and relished and valued all the more for their rarity!

                  p.s. if you do ever find yourself in Burlington VT, Mirabelle's is a dream come true; and in San Fran, La Boulangerie on Pine, owned by French bakers- is my sin qua non!!

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    WOW what a full report - thank you!
                    will keep this list, and hope to report back with some satisfaction :-)

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      I have to give TJ's croissants a try. Also, can you recall which Whole Food pastries in particular you like? I find their bakery products hit or miss -- mostly miss.

                      1. re: katzzz

                        Yes, I was quite surprised at the plug for WF pastries - this, with which opinionatedchef described Flour's baked goods, perfectly captures my feelings about WF: "Dry, cloyingly sweet, blah, meh, boring are my comments when [I] try things there so [I] never do."

                        katzzz, do try the TJ's frozen croissants - they are shockingly good. I have not tried the fresh ones.

                        1. re: katzzz

                          I generally agree about WF pastries. They look great but don't often deliver. Their mousse cakes are good, though.

                          1. re: katzzz

                            not sure if they mentioned it, but TJ's frozen plain croissants are quite good. you can let them rise the night before. i didn't like the flavored ones. Clearflour makes really really good american style (i.e. kind of greasy but flaky) gruyere croissants.

                            1. re: katzzz

                              sorry, i didn't see this before. WWF does an amaretto version of tiramisu that i soak w/ coffee and love. too. much.
                              they used to do some addictive pecan sandie type cookies covered w/ baker's sugar, but i don't think they make them anymore. their cheesecakes are good. don't know if they still have it but they used to do a very good ground almond tart type thing that they sold in brown cardboard boxes in the bakery section.

                              Also remember, they will refund you anything you don't like, no questions asked. i have taken back a number of things over the years; that policy is what allows me to try new things that i would hesitate trying w/o that guarantee.just sayin'.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                Opin. Chef, I read your post and I thought you were talking about Trader Joe's because of the "no questions asked" return policy. Never knew Whole Foods has the same cheerful attitude.

                        2. Thanks for the post OP; I've been looking forward to trying them. I'm having a hard time picturing where they are, any nearby landmarks? Are they near the stone hearth pizza?

                          Also, how did the breads look? I'm not too up to speed with Swiss Breads but I'm picturing something along the lines of the darker, maltier central European breads from Poland, Austria, and Germany. That and pretzel rolls. Am I on the right track?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Klunco

                            Next door (practically) to Stone Hearth. It's the old VW sales room.

                            1. re: Klunco

                              sorry k, i didn't look, but their website shows them and there is a rye.

                            2. Just wanted to show our love for Swiss Bakers. I am a huge fan of the Reading location, and I am thrilled that they are expanding. Inside a tiny room in the Reading train depot is an amazing operation, with the most enthusiastic and welcoming staff!

                              One side of the room is a mural that looks like a Swiss Alps panorama, and the other is just bursting with a million tarts and treats. Our favorite are the pretzel rolls and the Swiss Sin cinnamon rolls.

                              They also make a giant pretzel that is big enough to share - a great hostess gift or to bring along to watch a game:)

                              They also serve coffee in the European style - to go of course, but small and intensely flavored. Illy or Lavazza or something along those lines. Try them out!

                              Link to their site showing the store:
                              http://www.swissbakers.com/aboutus.php

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: latertater

                                Is that a different Swiss Bakers? There's no mention of the Allston location on their site..

                                1. re: Spike

                                  No, it's the same one. The page that links to is out of date, though. The address for the Allston location is on the homepage:http://www.swissbakers.com/

                              2. I stopped in this week, tried an almond croissant. At least for the one I ate, "very good" would be exceedingly charitable. The texture ranged from hard/crunchy/stale at the ends to doughy, dense and cold in the middle. I found the almond paste to have an excessively harsh flavor, really just unpleasant overall. I couldn't find any objection with their full-auto commercial espresso machine, other than that I had to tell them how to make an americano.

                                I hope they upgrade the Ikea furniture, it's rickety and weird to sit at.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Luther

                                  Yes, those chairs made of skinny twigs are frankly alarming.

                                  1. re: Luther

                                    Luther, have you tried the almond croaissant at Pret (on Franklin St Downtown) yet? I'm not an almond "fan", but I do like their chocolate croissants (my friend who got the almond one did rave about it). They don't have an oven to heat them up (they're served room temp), but it's got a nice bit of crunch on the ends.
                                    I also like the "tiny" pre-packaged brownies they have at the registers - they look like a ripoff 'cause they're so tiny, but they're so dense it's all you need.

                                    1. re: southie_chick

                                      Have not tried... I'm not fundamentally against toasting pastries, but if your croissant requires reheating, it's not a good one.

                                      1. re: Luther

                                        I toast chocolate croissants to melt the chocolate...simulates that fresh out of oven thing :-)

                                        1. re: Spike

                                          I like my chocolate croisssants "wamed up" on a cold day, but since I only have the micro in work, I eat them room temp. Just wish Flat Black went into the empty space next door instead of a couple of blocks down.

                                  2. I work down the street from Swiss Bakers and have visited 3-4 times. In my opinion it's not a destination yet and I'm happy to have it within walking distance from my office.

                                    Croissants- not as buttery and flaky as expected, but still very nice pastries for the price. They have a few savory varieties that make for a nice lunch bite. They use a nice chocolate for the sweet ones.

                                    Sandwiches- I had a ham&swiss on their pretzel roll. It was also satisfying but not a home run. Again, a nice lunch bite at a reasonable price.

                                    Soups- this is the only disappointment. Nice broth with not much in it. Come on, we're New Englanders and it's COLD out. Give us a hearty soup!

                                    Still, I've had a far better experience in that space with Swiss Bakers than I ever did with the Volkswagon I bought there years ago. I really like the friendly staff at Swiss Bakers and hope that the place is successful.