Thursday, August 4, 2016

Boston Bakery Crawl - Shake Shack and Clear Flour Bread

Shake Shack and Clear Flour Bread - visited July 10, 2016
Before I left for the airport on my last day in Boston, I had a clear mission. The first part was to have lunch at the Shake Shack which I saw on Newbury Street during my walks the day before. You can’t imagine how thrilled – yes, thrilled – I was to realize there was one in Boston that was in easy walking distance of my hotel. I love Shake Shack burgers. I’d only had it once when I was in Manhattan many years ago and I still remember it. That’s how good I thought their burgers were. 

I went right after church service when they had just opened so there were no crowds to worry about. I ordered a single cheeseburger, fries and, of course, a chocolate shake. Their prices for burgers and fries were quite reasonable, especially for a metropolitan city like Boston. $5.29 for the single cheeseburger and a couple of bucks for the crinkle cut fries. It was the shake that took me aback, also at $5.29, the same price for the cheeseburger. Huh. I know that’s what they’re known for but that seemed like a lot for a shake. Don’t get me wrong; it was a great shake but $5.29? Yes, I’m kinda cheap. Still, no regrets. The burger was as good as I remember, the fries were good and the shake was delicious.
More importantly, it fueled me properly for the second part of my mission and that was a 3-mile walk to Clear Flour Bread. I had time before I had to leave for the airport and I wanted the exercise so I could justify buying whatever caught my fancy for the plane ride home. Forget the joke about airplane food – truth is they don’t feed you anymore, even for a cross-country flight, so I was bringing my own snacks. And I wanted those snacks to come from another bakery I’d heard about and had been recommended to me by another foodie.
I walk as much as possible when I’m on vacation. It’s a great way to explore wherever I’m at and there’s less likelihood of missing anything by taking the subway. 3-5 miles one way is my typical walking range in a day. I enjoyed the walk to Clear Flour Bread, passing Boston University along the way. It was somewhat drizzly during my walk but it didn’t rain hard enough to detain me from my purpose. When it comes to bread bakeries, short of a typhoon, not much can deter me.
Clear Flour Bread is tiny. As in, tiny. Most of the space is taken up by the bakery in the back, the baking racks and a counter where they take your order and conduct the payment transactions. Beyond that, if you have to leave room for the bakery door to open and close to let customers in and out, the remaining space can fit about 4-5 people in line. Small people or skinny people. No joke. But that shouldn’t deter anyone from going because you can always form a line outside as well and, having stepped in as the 4th customer in the shop, the smell of freshly baked and baking bread was enough to bring me to my knees. Seriously, nothing smells as good as bread baking. I didn’t mind waiting in line because I was just happy to be in that heavenly smelling shop. Just happy.
I really wanted to try their croissant as yelp reviews called it top notch. Unfortunately they didn’t have any left when I got there so I had to settle for the pretzel croissant. I’ve never had a pretzel croissant and had no idea what the counter person was talking about when she described it “like a pretzel but a croissant”. But I stepped out on a limb of faith (it doesn’t take much) and got one.
Pretzel Croissant
And since I don’t walk 3 miles one way and 3 miles back for one croissant, I also bought a chocolate croissant. I would’ve like the more traditional pain au chocolat but the chocolate croissant was close enough.
Chocolate Croissant
I had both croissants later in the day. One when I was at the airport waiting for my flight to board and the other one during the 6 ½ hour flight back home. It was a bit of a shame that I hadn’t eaten at least one of them when I bought them but I wasn’t hungry then since I was still fueled up from Shake Shack. I say it’s a shame because I think I could have raved more about the croissants. They were good at room temperature but I think I would have found them far more amazing had I had them fresh out of the oven and somewhat warm. As it was, they didn’t stand out for me as much as I could’ve wished. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. The pretzel croissant really did taste like a pretzel but had the texture of a flaky croissant. The chocolate croissant was as good as a pain au chocolat (at room temp). Next time I go back, I’m going hungry and will consume on premises. Or just outside since there’s no room inside.

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