Friday, September 11, 2015

Baker Miller or The Cream of the Wheat Crop

The Slow and Savory Review

Mama Bee was on a mission.  "If I want to have the best bakery in the Midwest, I need to have the best ingredients," she explained to Brandy one day.  "But my dear, you already have command over the honey world.  No one rivals your hives," Brandy pointed out.  "Yes, but without the best of the best to augment my honey, what good is it?  We need to do some serious research here."  "What is this 'We' business?  I don't remember buying a stake in your bakery."  "But Brandy, you have all the best resources!  I know if you put your mind to it, you can find me what I need."  "Alright, alright, let me think on this.  But in the meantime, let's go grab a bite to eat."

Heading into Lincoln Square, Brandy and Mama Bee stumbled into Baker Miller, another brainchild from the couple that started one of Brandy's favorite unconventional brunch spots, Bang Bang Pie Shop.  While Baker Miller carried on the tradition of pies and their infamous biscuits, it added in a selection of other pastries as well as a short, but well curated menu of savory dishes that are perfect for breakfast or lunch.

The interior of Baker Miller was pretty reminiscent of Bang Bang, with its simple set up.  White walls showcased simple indie art in black frames, while bleached wood tables provided a bit of warmth to the space.  There was also a patio out back, which created a pleasant picnic sort of atmosphere.

Brandy and Mama Bee began by splitting an order of Summer Grits, which came dressed with crisp slices of cucumber, pickled red onion, scallions, and a soft boiled egg.  The vegetables were quite flavorful with a strong hit of vinegar coming from the onions, but also a soft sweetness that really brought out the pure corn flavor in the coarse textured grits.  "Such a different sort of dish to how I've usually seen grits served," Brandy mused with interest, "But I have to say, it does rather evoke summer in a very unique way."  The grits, Brandy noted, were in fact ground by Baker Miller themselves, who in addition to the restaurant, sold a whole line of premium quality flours and grains.  Mama Bee had noticed as well and was eyeing the various packages for sale on the counter with great interest.

Mama Bee went for the simple Ploughman's for her lunch, which came with a sausage patty, a soft boiled egg, some dressed greens, and a few slices of house made bread.  Though missing the typical slices of apple and hunks of cheese that would make for a true Ploughman's, the dish was enhanced a little by a trip to the Jam and Butter bar, where Mama Bee delighted over the selection of house made concoctions.  "As a baker myself, I can see how a simple dish like this is meant to showcase the brilliance behind these breads and spreads," she commented, munching happily on a slice of sourdough.

Brandy decided on the Peachy Keen Biscuit Sandwich, which came with pork sausage, goat cheese, caramelized onions, and fresh peach jam.  The biscuit was just as Brandy had remembered it: tender and buttery, but not too heavy.  The sweet peach jam and the soft onions were a perfect match for the peppery sausage with the creamy goat cheese providing a bit of tang.  "This is exactly how a late summer mid-day meal should be," Brandy sighed, "Fresh, well put together, and simple."

Not able to resist a few sweets, the ladies indulged in some treats to take home: some Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins, a couple of Confetti Cookie Sandwiches, and a slice each of S'mores Pie and (most exciting of all to Brandy) Blueberry Pie.  The cookie sandwich was perhaps the most delightful, not only because it was filled with colorful sprinkles, but also because the filling was a deliciously tart blackberry jam and what seemed to be a thin layer of a cream cheese like substance that balanced it out.  The muffins were a bit on the dry side with a very distinctive chew, but the fruit in them tasted fresh and lovely.  Lastly, the pies were the masterpieces that Brandy expected them to be.  The blueberry was every bit the Mona Lisa of pies that Brandy had remembered from her very first visit to Bang Bang, and the S'mores pie was rich, decadent, and perfect with a graham cracker crust and a bruleed marshmallow top that really reminded one of sitting beside a camp fire.

"Who knew having such control over the flours one uses could make everything taste so authentic!" Brandy exclaimed, "I suppose your quest for the best ingredients to use at your bakeries makes a little more sense now."  Mama Bee nodded knowingly.  Taking care to produce such quality dishes at Baker Miller not only made for a satisfyingly simple and relaxing meal, but it also kept prices very reasonable, as everything extraneous and frivolous had been eliminated, leaving only the finest bits to take their places as stars on the plate.  "Maybe what I need to do is take more control over producing what I need," Mama Bee said, "I already farm my own honey, so why not mill my own grains?  Grow my own fruit?  Why I could even sculpt my own dishes!"  "Now now, there is something to be said for knowing where your talents lie," Brandy replied, "And judging from that pottery class we took together, I'd say your skills at crafting coffee mugs leave something to be desired."  "That was a bud vase!" Mama Bee scoffed.  "Point proven," said Brandy.

The Short and Sweet Review

Baker Miller Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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