Since chef-owner Donald Billings opened Rutland’s Roots the Restaurant in 2011, he’s been picking up bread at nearby Baba-a-Louis Bakery practically every day. When he stopped by to supply his restaurant, he would joke with Jerry Sojourner, the bakery’s owner of 31 years, “When you’re ready to retire, let me know.”
“Then one day, he was like, ‘I’m ready,’” Billings recalls. “We worked out a deal.” That deal included retaining all the employees of Baba-a-Louis, but not the name (shared with another bakery in Chester) or the location. Now called simply the Bakery, the new dining spot opens this week at 122 West Street in a long-vacant former Aubuchon Hardware.
The breads and pastries, all baked with King Arthur Flour, will remain, including rustic loaves such as sour wheat-barley. Billings is especially excited about the bakery’s four flavors of English muffin, perfect for his breakfast egg sandwiches. In December, he’ll introduce bagels to the menu, too.
Though locals are sure to pop in for pastries and a Speeder & Earl’s Coffee raspberry mocha or peppermint hot chocolate, the Bakery’s sandwiches might tempt them to sit down and enjoy a meal in the 20-seat café. Fillings include house-cured salmon with pickled shallots, capers and homemade crème fraîche; smoked pork on rye with brussels-sprout-and-Napa slaw and hot-sauce aioli; and roasted butternut squash with goat cheese on seed bread.
In keeping with tradition at Billings’ restaurants, emu from Neshobe Farm is on the bakery’s menu, too. Look for it in the form of chili, served with freshly baked bread, of course.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Fresh Baked"