Lost Larson is bringing back some traditional Scandinavian treats to the neighborhood, but also looking into the future a bit.
Ever since The Swedish Bakery closed its doors after 88 years in business, Andersonville has been without a reliable source for the hearty, traditional breads and cardamom-infused pastries from the motherland.
But a new guard is taking up the challenge, maybe not in as large of an operation, but still, the owners are hoping to bring back a spark of the Scandinavian heritage the neighborhood lost last year.
Lost Larson isn't your typical Chicago bakery. For one thing, the clean lines, glass and wood have that Scandinavian aesthetic. But look closer, and you'll spot plenty of nods to Swedish, Norwegian and Danish ingredients in this Andersonville gem.
"The name is kind of an homage to my lost last name, which was Larson, which was my grandfather's name, who ended up taking his boss's last name - Schaffer - so he was Danish and then my grandfather on my dad's mom's side was Lars Larson who was Swedish," said owner Bobby Schaffer.
So for every muffin or almond croissant, there's a cinnamon roll or seasonal brioche.
Passionfruit chocolate hazelnut caramel tarts vie for your attention, up against zucchini custard bread. Cardamom and lingonberries are everywhere.
"A lot of cardamom, we have an almond-lingonberry cake - lingonberries being native to Sweden, where they're wild foraged and then cardamom being a really prevalent spice. So we do a cardamom bun that's really heavy with cardamom," he said.
And herring of course, which is used on one of their excellent open-faced sandwiches - in this case, lingonberry jam is spread on house made sunflower bread, topped with pickled herring, then garnished with radishes, shallots and fresh herbs. Other options include avocado toast with local tomatoes and zucchini. And that bread is something special. All of it - from the limpa to the honey-oat and sunflower rye - is made from grains that are milled in-house, behind a glass for all to see. It makes a world of difference for these hearty, toothsome breads.
"We wanted to work with local farmers who are growing grains from Illinois and then mill it on our stone mill in-house to get that fresh flavor, and do whole grains in all of our baked goods," said Schaffer.
In Steve's Extra Course video, he takes a look at a s'mores pop the bakery torches to-order. Just one bite that will take you back to campfire cookouts.
5318 N. Clark St.