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New Swiss Bakers in Allston

opinionatedchef Mar 3, 2013 05:09 PM

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. Owlette10 RE: opinionatedchef Mar 4, 2013 12:35 PM

    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
      k
      Klunco RE: Owlette10 Mar 4, 2013 12:48 PM

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

      1. re: Klunco
        Owlette10 RE: Klunco Mar 4, 2013 12:52 PM

        2 different places?
        in brookline?

        is there really so few options?

        1. re: Owlette10
          k
          Klunco RE: Owlette10 Mar 4, 2013 12:57 PM

          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
            Owlette10 RE: Klunco Mar 4, 2013 01:06 PM

            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
              StriperGuy RE: Klunco Mar 4, 2013 01:11 PM

              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
                k
                Klunco RE: StriperGuy Mar 4, 2013 01:18 PM

                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
                  StriperGuy RE: Klunco Mar 5, 2013 06:23 AM

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

                2. re: StriperGuy
                  Owlette10 RE: StriperGuy Mar 4, 2013 03:35 PM

                  Thanks :-)

                3. re: Klunco
                  Pia RE: Klunco Mar 17, 2013 06:11 PM

                  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
                    Owlette10 RE: Pia Mar 17, 2013 06:32 PM

                    Good to know!
                    Thanks :-)

                    1. re: Pia
                      e
                      Edokko RE: Pia Mar 17, 2013 06:43 PM

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

                4. re: Klunco
                  l
                  lergnom RE: Klunco Mar 4, 2013 04:00 PM

                  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
                    p
                    peelmeagrape RE: lergnom Mar 5, 2013 07:25 PM

                    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.

                    1. re: peelmeagrape
                      opinionatedchef RE: peelmeagrape Mar 5, 2013 11:34 PM

                      http://www.bricco.com/panetteria/cont...

                      i knew not of this place. must go soon; thk you!

                5. re: Owlette10
                  opinionatedchef RE: Owlette10 Mar 4, 2013 11:57 PM

                  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
                    Owlette10 RE: opinionatedchef Mar 5, 2013 10:03 AM

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

                    1. re: Owlette10
                      opinionatedchef RE: Owlette10 Mar 5, 2013 02:12 PM

                      anything for another owl admirer!

                    2. re: opinionatedchef
                      k
                      katzzz RE: opinionatedchef Mar 6, 2013 05:57 AM

                      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
                        Allstonian RE: katzzz Mar 6, 2013 06:51 AM

                        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
                          b
                          bear RE: katzzz Mar 7, 2013 09:46 AM

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

                          1. re: katzzz
                            f
                            fara RE: katzzz Mar 17, 2013 06:30 PM

                            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
                              opinionatedchef RE: katzzz Mar 18, 2013 01:30 AM

                              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
                                k
                                katzzz RE: opinionatedchef Mar 18, 2013 05:38 AM

                                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. k
                          Klunco RE: opinionatedchef Mar 4, 2013 12:52 PM

                          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
                            beetlebug RE: Klunco Mar 4, 2013 01:40 PM

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

                            1. re: beetlebug
                              k
                              Klunco RE: beetlebug Mar 4, 2013 01:55 PM

                              Ahh, got it. Thanks!

                            2. re: Klunco
                              opinionatedchef RE: Klunco Mar 5, 2013 02:04 AM

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

                            3. l
                              latertater RE: opinionatedchef Mar 5, 2013 11:27 AM

                              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
                                s
                                Spike RE: latertater Mar 6, 2013 09:05 AM

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

                                1. re: Spike
                                  j
                                  Jenny Ondioline RE: Spike Mar 6, 2013 09:11 AM

                                  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. Luther RE: opinionatedchef Mar 6, 2013 03:11 PM

                                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
                                  Allstonian RE: Luther Mar 6, 2013 04:17 PM

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

                                  1. re: Luther
                                    s
                                    southie_chick RE: Luther Mar 7, 2013 07:02 AM

                                    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
                                      Luther RE: southie_chick Mar 7, 2013 02:58 PM

                                      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
                                        s
                                        Spike RE: Luther Mar 7, 2013 04:34 PM

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

                                        1. re: Spike
                                          s
                                          southie_chick RE: Spike Mar 7, 2013 07:53 PM

                                          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. a
                                    Area Man RE: opinionatedchef Mar 19, 2013 06:25 AM

                                    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.

                                    1. Pia RE: opinionatedchef Mar 20, 2013 11:04 AM

                                      I went to the Swiss Bakers in Allston for the first time this morning. It's a large, bright space with lots of seating and a big parking lot. Their menu includes the breads and croissants I was familiar with through their farmer's market appearances, coffee, a selection of savory items like breakfast quiche and lunch sandwiches, and cakes and tarts (most of which were not on display when I stopped by around 9:30 a.m.). Several people greeted me as soon as I walked in, and they offered to heat up the quiche I ordered. I got the vegetable quiche, a pretzel croissant, and a "choco weggli" (roll with mini-chocolate chips), all of which I enjoyed and would get again. I was expecting a small take-out place with a limited selection of items, so I was pleasantly surprised -- it seems like a great place to sit and have a cup of coffee or catch up with a friend.

                                      1. d
                                        donlan RE: opinionatedchef Mar 29, 2013 03:17 PM

                                        I tried Swiss Bakers today.

                                        First: the location is awful. No view to speak of whatsoever. Not sure what Harvard can do to improve this, but there's no charm in that portion of Allston.

                                        Next: the staff are uniformly cheerful, almost to the point of annoyance. Almost, but not quite.

                                        The decor is nice, very (dare I say it) Swiss-European.

                                        The food (couple of sandwiches and a raspberry berliner) was very good. I only wish I'd seen the convection oven before I ordered. I wonder if they warm sandwiches up? I brought half of a sandwich home and stuck it in the toaster oven and it was even better than when it was cold.

                                        Their bread, of course, is very nice, and it wasn't the first time I'd had their bread (been eating it from Whole Foods for years).

                                        I'll be going back!

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: donlan
                                          j
                                          Jenny Ondioline RE: donlan Mar 29, 2013 08:51 PM

                                          When the weather clears, as it certainly must one of these days, there is a nice little pocket park behind the Honan-Allston Library, three blocks away.

                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                            s
                                            saulblum RE: Jenny Ondioline Mar 29, 2013 09:00 PM

                                            The intersection of Western Ave and North Harvard Street is still a car-dominated traffic sewer. As it is right now, the location of Swiss Bakers doesn't make it the kind of place you would just stumble upon walking through the area, because the immediate area has few destinations to which you'd be walking in the first place.

                                            1. re: saulblum
                                              j
                                              Jenny Ondioline RE: saulblum Mar 29, 2013 09:21 PM

                                              Um...look, I'm genuinely not being snarky here, but I have read this comment for the last five minutes and I just don't understand what your point is. For one thing, I think your entire thesis is wrong because I'm here to tell you that I walk through the intersection of Western and North Harvard literally about once a week. That's where my bank (destination!) and my library (destination!) and my farmer's market (destination!) are, plus it's how I get from my house to Harvard Square (destination!),

                                              As a matter of fact, every time I've gone to SwissBakers, I've walked there. Which kind of makes it a destination in and of itself, doesn't it?

                                              Also, are we not allowed to drive to bakeries? Or is it that we're not allowed to go directly to bakeries that we know are there, and we can only enter ones that we "just stumble upon"? Again, this is genuine confusion, not sarcasm. Help me understand here.

                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                s
                                                saulblum RE: Jenny Ondioline Mar 30, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                Of course pedestrians who live in the area walk down Western Avenue to wherever they're going. But Western Avenue and North Harvard Street has no urban street life.

                                                Do you see one pedestrian in the Street View?

                                                http://goo.gl/maps/1lOMw

                                                Buildings with blank walls fronting the sidewalk and parking lots hardly make for a vital urban experience.

                                                Waiting for the bus across the street, especially at night, is a pretty desolate experience.

                                                This is not a knock on Swiss Bakers: I stopped by the other day while waiting for the bus and liked the croissant I had. It is a knock on the immediate area, as the original commenter pointed out.

                                                Maybe in ten years it'll be a very different area.

                                                http://boston.curbed.com/archives/201...

                                                1. re: saulblum
                                                  Allstonian RE: saulblum Mar 30, 2013 05:02 PM

                                                  First off, I don't see one pedestrian in the Google Street View shots of my own neighborhood (or in many other residential neighborhoods) either. What exactly is this supposed to tell us?

                                                  Second, the Street View shots are from August 2009, and that neighborhood has already changed, not only with the addition of Swiss Bakers, but with the opening of the Stone Hearth Pizza at the corner of Western Avenue and North Harvard Street.

                                                  It's true that Harvard has done a good job of blighting that area, which even formerly leaned more towards light industry than small businesses and foot traffic. But there are LOTS of residents in the immediate vicinity, so there's certainly a customer base for local businesses if they were to open. And how else is "urban street life" going to come about if businesses don't come to the neighborhood?

                                                  1. re: Allstonian
                                                    d
                                                    donlan RE: Allstonian Mar 30, 2013 05:33 PM

                                                    Western Ave itself does not have much to make it appealing as a destination. The streetscape is terrible. Swiss Bakers is a worthy addition, and I hope to see more interesting things there in the future.

                                                    When I went, I saw no customers arriving by foot. All visited by car, and one by bus. Small sample size, I'll admit.

                                                    1. re: Allstonian
                                                      s
                                                      saulblum RE: Allstonian Mar 30, 2013 06:34 PM

                                                      Of course the transformation of the area has to start somewhere, and it's great that two places have opened in the past few months.

                                                      That doesn't negate that, as donian reiterated, the Western Avenue streetscape is a pretty poor one for pedestrians at the moment. The same holds for Cambridge Street nearby by the Pike and rail yard.

                                                      Anyway, I wish Swiss Bakers the best.

                                          2. beetlebug RE: opinionatedchef May 20, 2013 06:54 AM

                                            Despite passing by Swiss Bakers on almost a daily basis, I finally tried it last week. The staff are very friendly and happy. In the past, I've tried the berliner donuts at Formaggio and thought they were fine. This time, I tried the pastry. It was a butter dough with a hazlenut spread. I liked it ok, but not enough to get it again.

                                            What I did love was my impulse buy. At the register, they had little sandwiches to go. It was a small pretzel roll with two different fillings. One was the pretzel roll with butter. The other was the pretzel roll with butter and salami. I got the salami sandwich and it was absolutely delicious. The salami/butter combo is not one I would have thought of myself, but thinking about it, it made so much sense. I mean, it's fat with fat, what's not to love? The pretzel roll was just chewy enough to give it heft but not too hard or soft to make the sandwich unpalatable. My friend also got this and would have liked some mustard but I thought it was perfect just the way it was. It's small, about the size of a palm but oh so tasty and satisfying.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: beetlebug
                                              opinionatedchef RE: beetlebug May 20, 2013 11:49 PM

                                              'hazelnut spread' as in, gag, nutella? and 'butter dough' as in..... croissant dough, puff pastry, pie dough, brioche? thx.

                                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                beetlebug RE: opinionatedchef May 23, 2013 09:36 AM

                                                The hazelnut spread is a hazelnut crumble. The butter dough was closer to croissant dough, I think but not as many layers. And there was pearl sugar baked on top.

                                                But, even if it was a nutella spread, why would you yuck my yum?

                                                Lastly, I stopped by for another salami and butter sandwich. This time it had little pickles (cornichons) on them. Totally unnecessary. I really adore this little sandwich.

                                            2. l
                                              lergnom RE: opinionatedchef May 21, 2013 06:23 AM

                                              To point out a few negatives, the space is loud, particularly near where you order. Even with most tables empty, ordering can be difficult because you can't hear each other well. It's also over-air conditioned. The small sandwiches are small rolls but can contain a decent amount of food depending on what you order.

                                              They make very good iced tea out of any variety of tea they sell. I really liked that.

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