I know Donnie Madia and Greg Wade, and they were kind enough to give me an exclusive; for anyone who still eats bread, this is very good news.
We had a weekly ritual: on Monday afternoons, we’d go to Sugar Beet to pick up a fresh loaf of Publican Quality Bread (PQB), delivered every Monday around 1 p.m. But around the beginning of November, this outstanding bakery is going to have a place of their own in Oak Park.
PQB will soon begin operations at 211 Harrison Street, in the space once occupied by Rare Bird Preserves. The 1,600-square-foot bakery is undergoing minor renovations, adding large windows overlooking the kitchen to enable guests to have a “behind the scenes” peek into bread production. Inside is seating for 20; outside, seating for 40.
PQB makes a variety of excellent, hand-shaped ciabattas, baguettes, boules, sourdough, and rye breads, some of the best bread ever. We’ve been knocked out, again and again, by their 1979 Multigrain bread, a mix of several flours (e.g., rye, wheat, malted barley), seeds, honey, and salt. That mix of flours gives the bread many flavor dimensions, and those flavors are further developed by PQB’s extra-long ferment of its doughs. It’s delicious stuff. One of my brothers from Seattle came to visit and bought some 1979 Multigrain to fly home with him; the bread is flavorful and firm, a beautiful baked good. It will likely be some of the best bread you’ve ever tasted.
PQB is part of One Off Hospitality, the team behind highly regarded Publican Quality Meat, The Violet Hour, and The Publican. Donnie Madia, a partner at One Off Hospitality, and Karen Browne, CEO, both live in Oak Park. Madia told us he found Harrison Street to be “just a lovely, lovely patch, a unique artist’s community, with some very good places like Buzz Cafe and, of course, Val’s halla, where I’ve been getting records since they were on South Boulevard. The neighborhood is important to us; we’re community driven.”
PQB will be headed by master bread maker Greg Wade, who was recognized as the 2019 Outstanding Baker of the Year by the James Beard Foundation; he was featured in the documentary, Sustainable: A Documentary on the Local Food Movement in America. Wade and his team partner with smaller, locally owned family farms that grow the heritage grains that are stone-milled for PQB bread.
Wade told us, “We’re planning to do a European-style bakery, starting with breakfast pastries; then around 9 a.m. we’ll start baking bread. After that we’ll be making lunch items, big sandwiches and lunch pastries, savory snacks, and some cookies. The jambon beurre sandwiches will come out around 1 p.m., and then in the evening we’ll transition to Roman-style pizza from 4 until 8 p.m.”
Always with an eye to the community, Madia is excited to serve baked goods alongside other “fine local bakeries like Spilt Milk and Broken Tart; Publican Quality Bread will be a supplement to those places. We hope that we can add value and bring our own spirit of deliciousness to Oak Park.”