Best Bread St. Louis 2003 - Black Bear Bakery
Black Bear Bakery is a collective, something we like to see in this increasingly corporatized world, where even a loaf of damn French bread (or is it now Freedom bread?) baked in California and sold in supermarkets here is packaged to look like it came from a local hearth. And because Black Bear is a collective of six people, no one person can make a decision to, say, dress up the place and add an espresso bar with wireless Internet service. They just make good bread, and a few pastries and cookies (try some of the vegan oatmeal-raisin cookies). You may have already tasted bread from Black Bear -- they supply about a dozen restaurants (e.g., Mangia, King Louie's) and a few markets (e.g., Global Foods, Wild Oats). On Saturdays they operate a stand at Soulard Market. The honey wheat's made from Missouri honey, the sorghum from Missouri sorghum. Black Bear is also to be commended for keeping alive the traditional Russian Jewish rye bread once made by St. Louis' Lickhalter Bakery. The collective acquired the recipe from Lickhalter in 1996 and still uses the generations-old yeast strain. A trip to the bakery itself (located in the old Mayer Bakery building at Jefferson and Pestalozzi) is worth the effort, even if they're only open Thursday and Friday.