Salisbury Breads Rises on Main Street
There’s nothing more alluring than the aroma of fresh baked bread, and now this scintillating scent is wafting through the streets of Salisbury. Since April, Salisbury Breads has been satisfying everyone’s carb cravings, thanks to Pete Hathaway, whom the town already has to thank for its coffee shop, The Roost, and its luxurious B&B, the Ragamont Inn. Hathaway knows that man does not crave bread alone, so he and his baker stock the shelves with other treats, both savory and sweet, along with an array of stylish and whimsical wares from Hunter Bee. RI’s Tara Kelly says it’s worth stopping by, especially on Sundays, when the sticky buns emerge from the oven.
Pete Hathaway, transplanted New Yorker, man-about-town, and — as former head of 18th century European furniture and decorative arts at Sotheby’s — arbiter of great taste, is well on his way to claiming a new sobriquet: savior of Salisbury. When he came to town 10 years ago he restored the landmarked Ragamont Inn, which is now a sumptuous bed and breakfast and special events venue, with exquisite in-house catering. Last fall when The Roast, the first stop of the day for a wide range of worker bees and a favored hang-out for the coffee set, abruptly closed, Hathaway stepped up and reopened it, wittily christening his new coffee shop The Roost. This rescue delayed by a few months his alread-in-the-works plan to open Salisbury Breads, a bonafide, made-fresh-daily-on-the-premises bread bakery.
Salisbury Breads is actually the dream come true of Hathaway’s chef, Bruce Young (in photo, at right). Young describes himself as a chef who bakes. And what he truly loves to bake is bread. He started working for Hathaway at The Ragamont two years ago. Over time, the vacant storefront in the historic Eliza Peet building across the way on Main Street beckoned to Young. Hathaway agreed to work with him to create the bread shop of everyone’s dreams. Young still does all the catering for Ragamont House and oversees the menu at The Roost, but now he’s also in the bakery’s kitchen nearly every morning at 6, elbow deep in dough. Not just any dough: Young only uses certified organic flour.
Hathaway said the response has been terrific since Salisbury Breads opened for business on April 12. “People are just coming out of the woodwork,” he said. “A lot of them I’ve never seen before. And the best part is they keep coming back.” Indeed, it’s exactly the kind of shop where customers can pop in, get their daily bread and be on their way.
The French-bakery style display racks seem to empty as soon as they are filled. Each loaf of bread practically suggests how you should eat it. The baguette nearly cries out to be sliced into rounds, toasted and slathered with a soft cheese. The peasant boule would be perfect for thick, lusty sandwiches or bruschetta; for variety, try the French miche, which has a slight sourdough tang, or the multi-grain loaf made with flax and sunflower seeds plus oats and millet. Any one of the four varieties of flatbread — carmelized onion; tomato and oregano; arugula and pinenuts; or piave cheese — is a meal in itself, a worthy stand in for pizza. And who could resist ficelle? These impossibly thin sticks of bread just beg to be dipped in a thick creamy soup or, as in France, served alongside soft-boiled eggs. On Sundays mornings there are sticky buns, which the after-church crowd will appreciate.
Recognizing the adage that man cannot live by bread alone, Salisbury Breads also offers pies, both full-size and five-inch personal-size. The pie menu will change with the seasons; expect to find strawberry-rhubarb, mixed berry, and apple, as local produce rolls in. Young also admits to making a “mean Key-lime pie,” which we surmise will fly off the shelves. If you care as much about style as substance (Hathaway and Young clearly do), take your pie home in a lovely ceramic serving dish that you can borrow from the bakery, with a modest deposit. Whether you admit to your dinner guests that the pie is store bought is up to you.
Breads range in price from $2.50 for the ficelle to $9.50 for the French miche. There is challah on Fridays only: on Saturdays there is brioche. The Sunday sticky buns (devilishly tempting as proffered by Hawk Blumert, right) are $14.50 for a half dozen or $2.50 each. Pies are priced by size and filling.
Come summer the store also will sell locally grown flowers and produce. In the meantime, for added inspiration, Hunter Bee, the antiques store just over the border in Millerton, NY, has set up a small satellite shop in the room behind the bread shop. Here you’ll find a delightful array of housewares including dessert plates, pitchers, vases, lamps, even a stack of picnic baskets — typifying the whimsical wares for which Hunter Bee is known. — Tara Kelly
17 Main Street
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.