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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Food Network Names Union Loafers Among Best Bread Bakeries in America

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 3:19 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN

St. Louisans already know how magical the bread and eats are at Union Loafers — and now the rest of the country is taking notice.

In a story published yesterday titled "The Best Bakeries in America," Food Network lauded Loafers for its famous Light and Mild bread, describing it as "a crackly crusted sourdough loaf with an open, custardy crumb that boasts a slight tang and the creamy sweet flavors of wheat." The bakery's excellent pizza and lunch menu were also commended.



The list puts Loafers in some very good company, named among renowned bread bakeries from across the country including Tartine in San Francisco and Bien Cuit in Brooklyn.

When Riverfront Times restaurant critic Cheryl Baehr reviewed Loafers in late 2015, she zeroed in on the sandwiches at Loafers, made with, what else, the bakery's top-tier bread.

"To call Union Loafers' ham-and-cheddar a simple ham and cheese sandwich is like calling Opus One some fermented grape juice," Baehr wrote back in 2015 "The thinly shaved country ham and pungent white cheddar provide the salty heft, but the real star is the beautiful play of the caraway in the rye bread and the floral dill flavors of the pickles. Think of everything that is right about rye-bread dip, multiply it by ten, and then add the tart, textured pop of the grain mustard sauce for good measure. Even a PBJ sandwich is magical here — a crunchy, housemade peanut butter and a thick layer of Concord grape jelly harmonize on Light and Mild bread."

If you don't want to page through all 35 slides, here's the Food Network recap in full:
"Union Loafers (St. Louis, Missouri) Ted Wilson started baking in high school, first making pizza to woo a date — turns out, he fell in love with making dough instead. He baked on and off throughout college, but didn’t pursue it as a profession until he traded his record industry job for a retail gig at Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City in 2006. Wilson begged owner Jim Lahey to be part of bread production; fortunately for Wilson, Lahey took a chance on him, and he’s been baking professionally ever since. Wilson moved back to St. Louis to work at a Neapolitan pizza restaurant where he met Sean Netzer, with whom he co-founded Union Loafers in 2015. They abide by the motto 'uncommonly good for the common good,' which translates into a bread bakery where locally grown and milled wheat and rye are used in nearly every bread. Get your hands on the Light and Mild, a crackly crusted sourdough loaf with an open, custardy crumb that boasts a slight tang and the creamy sweet flavors of wheat. Naturally, the café’s lunch menu is anchored by bread — ciabatta is baked every hour to supply warm, fresh bread for several of the sandwiches — rounded out by scratch-made salads and soups. At dinner, the dining room turns into a pizzeria slinging 18-inch, NYC-style pies." 

Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at liz@riverfronttimes.com.
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