Sauce and Bread Kitchen: Savory, sweet cafe in Edgewater

April 10, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Sauce and Bread Kitchen is a combination of three businesses: a hot sauce company; a bread bakery and a former underground dinner operation. They are all rolled up into one cafe near the corner of Clark and Devon.

Partnerships can be tenuous things. But when you take the know-how of a guy who loves to make sauces - we're talking everything from hot, to cider vinegar to a summer relish called Chow Chow - and put him together with a top-notch baker, you get a unique business plan.

"I make sauce, and Ann, of Crumb Bread, makes the bread, and together we are Sauce and Bread," said co-owner Michael Bancroft.

The casual, laid-back cafe in Edgewater is all about showcasing Midwestern ingredients.

Ann works her dough pretty much all day. From the coarse spelt to a more forgiving sourdough, she turns them into warm, dense and crusty loaves. In fact, you could just order a bread plate, with a few homemade spreads on the side, like an assertive pimento cheese. But you could also turn them into a fantastic sandwich, like their turkey version.

"We brine it for 24 to 48 hours, then we pack on our rub that we make specifically for it with guajillo and tamarind, and then we slow smoke it," Bancroft said.

They begin by smearing a whipped feta spread on baguette loaves, followed by that turkey and some salt-cured, applewood-smoked bacon from Michigan. Then it goes into the toaster for a few minutes. When it emerges, that pickled Chow Chow relish tops it off, adding crunch and complexity.

There are also breakfast sandwiches, featuring homemade crumpets covered with that pimento cheese spread, stuffed with organic eggs and maple sausage. When those crumpets get stale, they're turned into warm, soft bread puddings, topped with whipped buttermilk. Other sweet features include ricotta and seasonal preserve-stuffed pastries, in this case, rhubarb; also crazy-addictive oat cream cookie sandwiches.

"It's a caramel cream - it's a buttercream - with a caramel inside of a crispy oat cookie," he said.

Bancroft and his partner realize not everything can be seasonal, but they're certainly upping the ante in a neighborhood unfamiliar with this kind of commitment.

"We're not purists by any standard, we live in the Midwest and understand there are limitations to that, but we try to support the growers that we have always worked with, and I think that's at the root of both Ann's and my business," said Bancroft.

The cafe is only open Thursday through Sunday.

Sauce & Bread Kitchen
6338-40 N. Clark St.
(773) 942-6384

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