We’ve always counted on acclaimed pastry chef Brian Mercury for sweet finishes—but at Oak + Rowan, he shows the goods from the get-go by eschewing complimentary bread service for a truly thoughtful program that includes his stellar sourdough (made with the luscious whey produced from ricotta) and its accompaniments, like apricot-and-date butter, right alongside other starters. All breads, down to the crackers served with crudo, are made in-house, and it shows. It’s not free, but it’s fantastic.
Oak + Rowan
321 A St., Boston • (857) 284-7742
2014 Winner: Fornax
Family-owned and -operated by Kim and Chris Fallon, Fornax bakes heavenly breads (fitting, since it’s named for the Roman goddess of ovens)...
- 27 Corinth St., Boston
- (617) 325-8852
2015 Winner: Clear Flour Bread
If there’s a problem at this brilliant bakery located on a quiet Brookline side street, it’s the surfeit of options…...
- 178 Thorndike St., Brookline
- (617) 739-0060
2016 Winner: Loyal Nine
At Loyal Nine, chef Marc Sheehan’s Colonial-inspired restaurant in East Cambridge, the phenomenal baked goods play a starring role...
- 660 Cambridge St., Cambridge
- (617) 945-2576
2017 Winner: Bambara
Newburyport native David Bazirgan spent 13 years as a chef at trendy San Fran restaurants before returning to the East Coast and breathing new life into the kitchen...
- 25 Edwin H. Land Blvd., Cambridge
- (617) 868-4444