Elm Street Bakery started as, well, a bakery. It his quickly grown to become a very popular breakfast, coffee, lunch, pizza, dinner, dessert spot in the village of East Aurora. The project started in 2011 when owners Kim and Jay DePerno were inspired to join the East Aurora legacy of artisans – brick oven style. They went to work on an old barn/retail span with a complete gut and redo job. Several months later, in early summer of 2011, they started selling bread.
If you haven’t had a chance to sneak a peek of Elm Street, you should take the time. It is exactly what every small town should have. Walk in the front door to a glorious open space filled with red brick and beautiful light pine. Take a deep breath. The luscious aroma of freshly baked bread and creation du jour fills your senses with joy. Vibrant oil paintings by local artist Alan Larson adorn the brightly lit area. Tables of four line the front wall, a “low” bar surrounds the open kitchen with the brick oven as the centerpiece. The cafe sits at one end, bread stand at the other, a loft overlooks the action below.
Elm Street has been serious about organic and locally sourced products from the beginning, as evidenced by a list of their farmers on their website. From a bakery they evolved to a whole foods bakery/café specializing in brick oven artisan breads, scratch pastries and desserts, in-house roasted coffee, seasonal soups, salads & sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas. With the hire of one of Buffalo’s most promising young chefs, Charles “Brad” Rowell, Elm Street is writing a new chapter in their short, but glorious book on how to satisfy hungry customers.
Chef Brad most recently worked as Sous Chef at Park Country Club. Before that he spent some time at Daniel’s in Hamburg, and helping to open a restaurant in Colorado, to name just a few.
With Chef Brad now comes a seasonal dinner menu and casual dining complete with table wait service (beginning at 5:00 p.m.) Unique to Elm Street, they cook almost everything in the brick oven: Wood-Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Wood-Roasted Clams, Wood-Roasted Butternut Squash…even the Mac and Cheese. So unique is this process that Brad spent some time on the road (Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore; Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn) to get a better feel for the techniques. “Cooking with a wood burning oven is more of an art than a science” says Brad. “You need to get a feel for timing and hot spots.”
Most everything (not charcuterie yet) is made in house, including the butter. Brad says he has the good fortune to be surrounded by great people, and great materials. Bread, pastries, coffee, cheese, butter etc. With him comes even more local farmers and producers. Elm Street even imports oranges and grapefruits directly through Thorpes Organic Family Farm via their grove in Florida. You’ll notice them on the bar in large preserve jars. The rinds used to flavor can be found currently in the yogurt sauce with the Wood-Roasted Rainbow Trout. The sea salt comes from Amagansett Sea Salt Co.- harvested by hand in Long Island (watch the video). You can purchase this special salt in the cafe.
A sampling of what you might see on Brad’s menu:
- Edward’s ‘Surryano’ Ham – cultured sea salt, butter, baguette $9
- Nettle Meadow ‘Kunik’ – spiced apricots, rosemary crackers $9
- Bacon Wrapped Dates – poached apple, blue cheese $6
- Wood-roasted wild mushrooms – ricotta, arugula, lemon oil $11
- Wood-Roasted Clams – lentils, herbs, hard cider, creme fraiche $11
- Wood-Roasted Bone Marrow -herb salad, fennel onion jam, sourdough bread $9
- Wood roasted bone marrow – herb salad, fennel onion jam, sour dough bread $9
- Wood Roasted Boudin Blanc – caramelized apples, parsnip puree, mustard seeds $10
- Wood Roasted Half Chicken – leek bread pudding, parsnips, lemon, herb jus $21
- Wood Roasted Rainbow Trout – farrow verde, preserved lemon yogurt, shallot caper vinaigrette $23
Added to the existing Marghertia and Classic pies are:
- Four Cheese – mozzarella, caora sarda, ricotta, caciocavallo, garlic confit, spicy tomato jam $9/$14
- Fennel Sausage – tomato sauce, sarvecchio, breadcrumbs, roasted shallot, hot chili’s, arugala, olive oil $9/$15
To mention just a few. See the full menu here.
In addition to the new dinner Elm Street serves breakfast (sandwiches, pastries, fresh bread, yogurt, organic oatmeal, coffee) and lunch (soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza) 6 days a week [closed Monday].
The bad news is Elm Street doesn’t take reservations. The good news is they have an outstanding list of beers. Only local beers on tap, which change weekly – Hamburg, Flying Bison, Community Beers Works etc. , and only bottles from within 250 miles of their EA address. Add to that some nice wines, pop, cider, a front patio that will be in use soon (promise), a beautiful “farm House” setting and you have the makings of a pleasurable wait.
Check back to Step Out Buffalo (Correction) Monday to read about our first dining experience at Elm Street Bakery – hint: OMG!
Below is a brief Q & A with Chef Brad
Tells us a little about your training / education / background.
I graduated from French Culinary Institute in New York City. Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked in restaurants in New York City, Boulder C.O, Denver C.O, Western NY and I’ve also staged at restaurants all around Western Europe. I’ve also worked in a butcher shop in NYC learning the ins and outs of proper butchery and sausage making.
How did you pick cooking as a career?
I decided to choose cooking as a career while I was working at Jax Fish House in Boulder C.O as an oyster shucker. I became interested in the food and was given the opportunity to work one day a week in the kitchen. The chef (Hosea Rosenberg- Top Chef Winner) started giving me cookbooks to read and I was hooked from there.
What do you like most about being a chef?
I really enjoy the community involvement, mentoring young cooks, and creating memorable experiences for guests.
What do you plan to do special with the brick oven / how will you showcase it in your menu?
We will be doing almost all of our cooking in the wood burning oven- from roasting fish and vegetables, making pizzas and baking bread.
What do you hope to bring to Elm Street?
I hope to continue to build on all of the great things that are currently happening at Elm Street. We have an excellent team in place- Jay and Kim (The Owners) have a great vision for ESB and I have really enjoyed collaborating with them.
72 Elm Street • East Aurora, NY 14052 • 716-652-4720
Hours: Tue-Fri 7 am to 9 pm • Sat 8 am to 9 pm • Sun 9 am to 2 pm • closed Monday
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