Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe: Louisville, KY

Overall, Bob believes that “carefully managed, extended fermentation” is the key to their authentic artisan bread, and pastry chef Andy Wolf echoes that fermentation is also key to the success of their laminated dough. (Both also attribute the deliciousness of their creations to top-notch ingredients, the right kitchen tools and, of course, their kitchen teams.)

“There’s nothing that you can’t do or create if you have a great loaf of bread, in our opinion,” Kit says. “I think that bread is the foundation for really fine dining.”

And, man, do they ever practice what they preach. Many of the bakery’s best dishes use house-baked bread or pastry as a foundation (sandwiches, anyone?) and allow seasonal ingredients to play supporting cast members. Recent specials—including a butternut squash, walnut, and rosemary pizza, French toast topped with a fig and plum compote, and a persimmon pudding—spotlight how there’s always something new to experience based on what’s fresh. Herbs, fruits from nearby farms, and increasingly, local meats are all an integral part of the menu, and the rotating specials pay tribute to Blue Dog’s Kentucky surroundings with a quiet confidence.

Above all else, though, Blue Dog wants to make great bread feel accessible to everyone.

“Bread’s something that even if you’re not a great cook, you can make a good meal if you take a good loaf of bread home. Whether people want to eat out or they want to eat in, we can help,” says Kit.

For Blue Dog, this impetus to continue helping and expanding its root system throughout the Louisville community has inspired a new butcher shop and restaurant, Red Hog, in a converted gas station just a half-mile down the road. Bob is sourcing locally raised livestock for whole animal butchery at Red Hog, breaking the animals down into fresh cuts while also curing meats and sausages. The meats at their soon-to-open venture receive the same attention as their breads at Blue Dog.

Hundreds of thousands of baguettes into the game, there remains a twinkle of excitement in Kit’s voice when she talks about the breads at Blue Dog, and a reverence for community that’s downright refreshing. Being grounded in such a supportive, tight-knit place means that there’s no need to peacock about how that cranberry-walnut levain has the perfect balance of savory and sweet, or that all their croissant dough is painstakingly made in-house, then tenderly folded by hand. Instead, Kit and Bob know that the proof is in a city that makes Blue Dog the choice for their daily bread time and time again.

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