Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe: Louisville, KY

At this point, Blue Dog’s breads are such an integral part of the Louisville restaurant scene that it’s almost impossible to imagine how the city would fare without them. Over 20 local restaurants—like the avant garde Proof on Main and whiskey-centric eatery Rye—have all incorporated Blue Dog’s loaves into their menus. Even more off-site locations, from specialty food shops to high-end liquor stores, sell them hand-over-fist to customers who are looking to enjoy a loaf at home.

“We have used Blue Dog Bakery for years, and our customers have come to appreciate the high quality,” says Brad Jennings, general manager of the iconic Louisville restaurant Jack Fry’s, which has been serving the city for over eight decades.

While seasonal ingredients have long been the driving force behind Blue Dog’s menu, Louisville diners’ revived interest in experimentation has given the bakery room to play around. Whether it’s trickle down pop-pastry lust or homage to the city’s Francophile heritage, Blue Dog’s crackly, buttery kouign amann has become extraordinarily popular, even leading to an official “Kouign Amann Day” held each July. (This year’s event was the bakery’s biggest sales day ever.) Recently, the bakery also added their own spin on a Moon Pie, the beloved Southern snack that traditionally finds a puck-sized marshmallow sandwiched between two wafers, encased in chocolate.

At its heart, though, Blue Dog always has been, and always will be, all about the bread. In many ways, Blue Dog feels timeless, mostly unconcerned with trends, steadily creating high-quality loaves that require little more than jam and butter (or, frankly, nothing at all) in order to inspire wistful sighs of delight. Blue Dog seems to have found the recipe for perfectly balancing crusty and chewy in every loaf, especially when it comes to baguette, which is a lesson in the importance of give-and-take mouthfeel. And by using only a handful of ingredients in each levain or baguette (there’s nothing in the Blue Dog wheelhouse you couldn’t pronounce), the bakery is able to reinforce what most of us already know down deep: Simpler is, more often than not, better.

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