In Chicago, the small-scale artisan bread baker is almost as rare as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Here to remedy that rarity is Rida Shahin, wholesale artisan baker to the restaurant stars (Blackbird, Takashi, Hot Chocolate and more). Time Out Chicago reported that Shahin opened the doors to his retail operation, La Farine bakery, yesterday (1461 W. Chicago Ave.), and so GSChicago stopped in for a bite, actually maybe too many bites for our burgeoning waistline.
La Farine is located in a century-old building and outfitted with a grand honey-colored old-school wooden built-in bakery case, and the walls are lined with sea foam green decorative tile that make you feel like you’re buying pastry at the bottom of an Art Deco pool.
Shahin’s bread is definitely worth its yeast. Baguettes are the perfect ratio of cracker crust to soft interior chew and croissants tear in feathery strands. Shahin’s éclairs feature choux dough with serious integrity, the right bite of salt, and are larded with caramel custard. The best wares though are anything made with puff pastry. Shahin makes the stuff in-house, and butter perfume literally oozes out of his apple turnovers with every greedy bite. Based on this afternoons grazing, we think Shahin’s bakery may be one of the better sweets emporiums to open since Pasticceria Natalina in Lincoln Square.