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La Farine Bakery, West Town

La Farine Bakery, West Town
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  • La Farine Bakery, West Town

    Post #1 - October 5th, 2009, 8:32 pm
    Post #1 - October 5th, 2009, 8:32 pm Post #1 - October 5th, 2009, 8:32 pm
    I went out for a walk this afternoon and noticed that La Farine, basically across the street from where I live, opened today. I didn't remember the name, but if, according to the Time Out Chicago article from early this year, restaurants including West Town Tavern, Blackbird, Takashi and Hot Chocolate serve La Farine bread, I've surely had it a number of times. As far as I can recall, I've enjoyed the bread at all of these restaurants.

    In addition to bread, La Farine had a full pastry case today--three cakes, individual pies (enough for two, I heard), large and small tarts, lemon and raspberry bars... Atop the case, there were also scones, turnovers, cookies, brownies. I only noticed one savory item--small tomato tarts.

    I was impressed by the variety of offerings, though I must say my initial impression was that all of the pastry looked a little sloppy and not in a rustic kind of way. The banana cream pies looked like a mess of whipped cream drizzled with chocolate and topped with what was maybe pieces of graham cracker. The apples on the tarts looked jaggedly cut and just not very pretty. The granola scones were large and very, very flat. I actually had to ask what they were--scones would not have been my first guess.

    Unfortunately, I am avoiding bread these days, but I did sample the filling of two of the more innocent-looking small tarts, a chocolate walnut and lemon meringue:

    Image

    The chocolate was a little bizarre. It was a relatively tiny tart (like a 4-bite tart). There was one whole walnut and a few pieces in the filling (besides the crushed walnut on top in the picture), and the rest of the chocolate was rather...stiff, like hard icing.

    Initially, I was impressed by the tartness of the lemon meringue (I tend to like very tart), but then I realized that the filling was gritty with sugar. Every bite was gritty. I didn't try the crust (I know, what kind of pastry-eater am I!), but I'm suspicious--like other crusts I noted in the pastry case, the crusts of the tarts I bought looked hard and rough-hewn.

    Probably because of my skepticism on sight and then disappointment in what I tasted, I thought the tarts were on the expensive side--2 tarts came to just over $7. For the same price, I could get double that amount of pastry in far superior quality a block and a half away with a small pie at Hoosier Mama. It would be great though if La Farine turned out to be a good source for bread I could share with guests.

    On a more positive note, La Farine is serving Intelligentsia coffee, and the space is cozy with a nice view of Chicago Avenue. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on the pastry and bread. It'll be interesting to see how La Farine fares in the neighborhood with Mercury Cafe gone but Swim Cafe, Hoosier Mama, Atomix and Lovely not too far away. Bread would certainly set it apart.

    La Farine Bakery
    1461 W Chicago Ave
    Chicago IL 60642
    Hours: 6:30am-6:00pm (don't know if this is everyday)
  • Post #2 - May 26th, 2010, 10:01 am
    Post #2 - May 26th, 2010, 10:01 am Post #2 - May 26th, 2010, 10:01 am
    happy_stomach wrote:I'd love to hear others' thoughts on the pastry and bread. It'll be interesting to see how La Farine fares in the neighborhood with Mercury Cafe gone but Swim Cafe, Hoosier Mama, Atomix and Lovely not too far away. Bread would certainly set it apart.
    Long a fan of La Farine bread I stopped at the bakery for the first time to pick up a loaf and was pleasantly surprised to find a full-on bakery with pastries, sandwiches, comfortable seating and free WiFi.

    Image

    Image

    Baguette as remembered, one of the better versions in town, pastry wise I only tried a raspberry macaroon, didn't displace Vanille Patisserie but immediately jumped to second in Chicagoland.

    La Farine Rassberry Macroons

    Image

    La Farine baguette was put to good use later that evening.

    Grilled beef and veg sandwiches w/grilled corn

    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    La Farine Bakery
    1461 W Chicago Ave
    Chicago IL 60642
    312-850-4019

    Vanille Patisserie
    2229 North Clybourn Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60614
    73-868-4574
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - May 26th, 2010, 10:21 am
    Post #3 - May 26th, 2010, 10:21 am Post #3 - May 26th, 2010, 10:21 am
    the breads at la farine are impressive, IMO. the ciabatta, both small and large, is the best i've ever had. the crust is chewy but the inside is lacy. it's now my favorite bread to eat plain, or with cheese (it's too lacy to spread with soft cheese, you actually have to eat it alongside it).
    the pastries have changed quite a bit since they first opened. at first they were perilously close to looking and tasting burnt. the looks have improved and the few i've tried were fine (cant remember what i eat there just last week!) the owner, rida, is very friendly and happy to talk about his bakery. justjoan
  • Post #4 - May 26th, 2010, 12:10 pm
    Post #4 - May 26th, 2010, 12:10 pm Post #4 - May 26th, 2010, 12:10 pm
    I've come around to La Farine after my first few underwhelming visits. After learning that they donate bread to Soup and Bread nights at the Hideout, I decided to give them a few more tries.

    Maybe two months ago, I had a stupendous giant macaron filled and topped with cream and strawberries. It was outstanding, mainly for the quality of the cookie--delicate and with some chew throughout. La Farine's macaron was better than the giant macarons I had recently from Bouchon Bakery in NY, which I think are really, really hard to beat. In hindsight, La Farine's was even better than I thought in the moment because I've since had the giant PB & jelly macaron from Pierrot Gourmet. The filings of the two giant macaron desserts are very different, of course, but I thought Pierrot's giant macaron was terrible--the consistency of the cookie was wildly variable throughout, with some parts having the texture of taffy. (I was also very disappointed by the quality of PB used in that behemoth; it tasted like Skippy.)

    Pierrot Gourmet
    108 E. Superior St.
    Chicago, IL 60611
    312-573-6749
  • Post #5 - May 27th, 2010, 1:28 pm
    Post #5 - May 27th, 2010, 1:28 pm Post #5 - May 27th, 2010, 1:28 pm
    HS,

    Was La Farine responsible for the ham studded bread at the LTH's soup and bread night?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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