Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters

January 17 2011 - 11:24 AM

Consider it not being up on my game or just plain laziness, but it took me eight months to visit this specialty bakery that has been open since May of last year. Operated by the husband-wife (correct me if I’m wrong?) team of Renaud Hedrickx and Dominique Schewebach, I instantly got the feeling of this place being a labor of love.  I ordered a tuna salad sandwich on a croissant roll, which was simply tuna mixed with homemade mayonnaise on a very soft, dense, and fresh croissant role where you could see the layers of dough like rings of a tree, not the fluffy types where everything seems to congeal together in one big lump with a few air pockets.

The owner told me it takes eighteen hours to make hüpfburg his croissants, which I took at face value, and the quality of the craft shows in this buttery, but not greasy, concoction.  My wife bought the chicken curry sandwich, which seemed to be nothing more than chicken and curried mayonnaise:  simple, but very good.   Both sandwiches cost $7, which may be a bit much for some, but for me it’s money better spent than gorging myself on a deli meat sub at Subway for the same price that leaves my taste buds wonting.

I also bought a quarter loaf of the Belgian country bread for $8, which was had a hint of saltiness and had a great balance of air and density. Some of the artisanal bakeries tend to be too dense or too airy but this bread holds its own as a buttered side bread or something good for a sandwich.  The crust was not too firm, and the inside remained moist after four days inside the refrigerator stored in a plastic bag.

The cranberry brioche bread was good, with a sticky-sweet exterior but with rewarding flavors of marzipan inside. This was very dense and a bit pricey at $15, but it made for a delicious breakfast and desert bread. To be candid, I found it a tad dry, especially given that it is a brioche, but not enough to dissuade me from ordering another loaf again.

The almond and chocolate croissants were also delicious, though of course, they did have the same characteristics of the plain croissant.

I consider us in Chicago very fortunate to have a place like this, and I find that bakeries in particular tend to be underappreciated.  On one extreme we can buy Wonder Bread at Jewel, and this is at the opposite end of the spectrum, and many of us tend to buy bread that falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not the cheapest bakery in Chicago, but it doesn’t have the additives that unfortunately even bakeries tend to put in their products. Sadly many bakeries and pastry shops tend to close up  (case in point: the pending closure of Pasticceria Natalina) with the owners frustrated by the lack of foot traffic and long hours, as well as the lack of price-quality connections held by many consumers that appreciate big portions at low prices pumped full of chemicals by industrial-scale producers instead of an appreciation more expensive products with attention to ingredients and detail.

Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters
100 E. Walton
(312) 649-6717

–Brian Ziegler