Friday, September 6, 2013

A Tale of Trustworthy Dudes

In a saturated cyber and printed word world (he said self-reflectively), there are a handful of folks whose opinion I truly trust when it comes to food; this list narrows when it comes to new pastry shops (talk about a saturated world). Today, one of these people, Michael Gebert, he of James Beard bling wearing, Sky Full of Bacon fame, wrote a piece on a 2 month-old pastry shop in the deliciously smoky environs of the Paulina Brown Line stop called Bad Wolf Coffee (check his article for lovely pictures and superior prose on the place). I was serendipitously in the neighborhood for once, and thus immediately went in.

I'm not going to say more about the pastry I ate--the kouign-amann--beyond that I was amazed and soothed by it's integrity--the virtue of good butter and purity of technique right in your hand. You've got to go try it yourself. The espresso that the one man show of owner Jonathan Ory pulls is crafted with equal care--get him chatting and perhaps he'll tell you a juicy story about that. But what ultimately won me over was an in-person example of the the following ethic, as written in Gebert's article:

Talk to him—which you should do as part of the coffee transaction, in his opinion..."The last thing I want is a place where I'm staring at the backs of peoples' heads with headphones on. People forget how to talk to each other. I'm afraid my generation doesn't know how to talk."

He's right, and that's why upon leaving, I was so damn pleased that we hung out and talked shop for some time, and to me, that is one of the tell-tale signs of a truly special place: you come for the food, you stay for the company it created. Of course, this was on a slow Friday afternoon. What would it be like on Saturday morning? Packed I'm sure, and the product backs that up and makes a visit worthwhile. But if you get a chance to stop in and taste some of Ory's pastry, do so. And you might luck out if--in the midst of a triple-digit hour week--he pulls his trick of making you feel as though he's got all day to talk. Dude is a true craftsman.

Bad Wolf Coffee is at 3422 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago, just next to the Paulina Brown Line stop.