They say man does not live by bread alone, but in Columbus, he darned near could. The latest addition to the city’s rising bread scene elevates a slice of one of life’s simplest pleasures to lofty heights, adding flora to its must-try experience.
Culinary curators at Experience Columbus have assembled this list of 11 great breads, every one of which is wellworth traveling to try.
Flowers & Bread just opened in March and is quietly taking the city by storm. This Instagram-worthy collaboration of Tricia Wheeler, Sarah Lagrotteria and famed bread baker Sarah Black celebrates the simple things for which it’s named.
Born out of a desire for a bread worthy of their magnificent hand-churned butter (made from local Snowville Cream), Flowers & Bread has a snug eat-in café, and also offers beautiful take-away breads and bouquets. Showy flower arranging and baking studios let guests watch the magic happen, and provide classes so travelers can take home a new skill along with that boule or baguette.
Located in a beautifully rehabbed old mechanic’s garage on Fourth Street in buzzy Italian Village, local favorite Fox in the Snow serves incredible baked goods and hand-poured coffee in an industrial, yet cozy spot, with a second location in the works in German Village. Puffy, hand-made focaccia is the foundation for Fox’s much-lauded souffléd egg sandwich, which is topped with candied bacon, melty gruyere, the bite of arugula and Dijon whipped cream. Consider splitting the sammie, as you’ll want to save room for one of the real egg custard-filled donuts or the heavenly lemon galette.
For years, Dan the Baker has made a name for himself with his gorgeous rustic breads. His artistry graces the table of many of the city’s best restaurants, whose chefs readily admit they can’t come close to Dan’s technical skill. His breads take center stage at his Toast Bar, where you can order flights of three breads with three spreads (think cultured cream, maple black walnut or lemon curd and local Laurel Valley Cloverton cheese). More elevated open-face sandwiches, both sweet and savory, fill the menu. Options might include charred asparagus and ramp with béchamel and gruyere, roasted red-pepper hummus with olive, cuke and radish or caramelized banana almond butter, bacon and honey.
Columbus’ rich cultural diversity is punctuated by a prolific rich Japanese food scene. Many travelers are unfamiliar with the light crumb that’s the hallmark of Shokupan, a traditional, fluffy, white Japanese loaf bread. Belle’s Bread bakery and café offers visitors a unique introduction to traditional Japanese favorites, such as anpan, a sweet, red bean, paste-filled bread; uguisu pan, a green pea jam-filled bread; green tea marble bread; or Belle’s famous melon bread, a sweet, fluffy, sugar-coated round.
In historic German Village, celebrated pastry chef Spencer Budros bakes with grace at Pistacia Vera. Classic French laminated doughs give way to stunning croissants, feuilletine and renowned French macarons. Pistacia Vera’s earthy rye croissant, with its delicate, flaky exterior and tender, cottony inside is the bread of choice that’s served with the shop’s exquisitelysmoked salmon tartare with finely diced cucumber and sweet onion, crème fraiche and radish.
Hand-held and just a couple of dollars each, Czech pastries and breakfast sandwiches rule the menu at Kolache Republic. This tiny hole-in-the-wall café cranks out sweet and savory kolache, a fluffy, slightly sweet dough stuffed with fruit, nut, sweet cheese or meat fillings, then baked to tender perfection.
Lemon, blueberry, almond and poppy seed are just a few of the sweet kolaches available at the Republic, while breakfast (is this a flavour or name?), kielbasa, taco and buffalo chicken grace the savory menu. Seasonal features make brief appearances, such as Hawaiian pork or key lime kolache or a nod to German and Russian cuisine in the chicken bierock, a ball of yeast dough stuffed with meat filling.
A truly old-school, mom-and-pop Italian bakeshop, since 1958, Auddino’s Italian Bakery has been churning out some of the city’s best semolina breads, rolls and sub buns, as well as killer donuts, cannoli and other pastries, plus pizza-making supplies. Rosario, along with two more generations of Auddino’s, bake primarily wholesale for the city’s top Italian restaurants and sandwich shops. But those in the know will find their way to this little shop tucked away on Clara Ave. for real-deal baked goods at rock-bottom prices. Regulars know to get there early in the morning (they open at 6:30 a.m.) for the freshest and best selection.
In 1985, Gigi and Stan Wielezynski move to Columbus, bringing their hearth-baked French breads to the city at La Chatelaine bakery and bistro, now found in three popular Columbus neighborhoods. Hand crafted with no conditioners, preservatives, dairy or oil, La Chatelaine breads are best enjoyed right out of its old-fashioned, wood-fired stone oven. A traditional white dough produces famous baguettes. Sourdough starter is the foundation of La Chatelaine’s rich country bread, peasant loaf and wheat boule. A full bistro serves full French country breakfast, salads, sandwiches, soups and rich pastries.
Tucked in the corner of Columbus’ bustling North Market, Omega Artisan Baking gets rave reviews for its many styles of bread, plus scones, croissants, cookies and pastries. Incredible rosemary focaccia, chewy pretzel rolls, crusty Italian loaves and mini Avancini (Italian for scraps; small rolls made from leftover bread dough) fill the case of this aptly-named artisan bakery. Pan Turbante, named for the turbans they resemble, are small, soft breads topped with a tapenade of Kalamata olives, garlic, olive oil and a combination of hard cheeses or roasted sweet onions, walnuts and blue cheese.
Made from simply superb ingredients and no gluten, nuts or dyes, Cherbourg Bakery’s breads and baked goods make it a favorite spot. Cherbourg’s olive oil mini loaf is served with delicious, local Hartzler butter, as is the zucchini mini loaf. Beyond these breads, there are lovely gluten- or nut-free muffins, donuts, bars, quiche and a petit choux that’s filled right on the spot with vanilla or chocolate cream.
Salam Bakery and Grocery is another stop best made early in the day, while selection is best and the fresh-baked hand pies are still warm from the blazing inferno of an oven. Make a beeline for the back of the market (past its halal meat and well-stocked shelves full of Middle Eastern treasures) and watch as these soft, fluffy pockets of bread are made. Stuffed with mostly savory fillings--such as a buttery, salty mild cheese; fava beans; or meats with onions and spices--some are hot, while others are mild. At just a couple of dollars each, they’re a delicious value. Tucked into a former strip mall, Salam is just one of the international food businesses giving new life to an aging retail center and turning it into a global village of culinary adventures.