Behind the Bread Basket at Island Creek Oyster Bar, Eastern Standard
Head baker Sean Connolly preps baguettes for a turn in the oven. All photos by Charlotte Wilder.
If you’ve dined at Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, or more recently The Hawthorne, you’ve no doubt experienced the table bread — perhaps a slice of baguette at ES, a hunk of semolina at ICOB, or a square of wheat bread in the mini tuna sandwiches at The Hawthorne.
What you may not know is that all of the aforementioned breads — plus everything from the hamburger buns at ES to the petite oyster slider rolls at ICOB — are made in-house, in a special bakery cordoned off in the ICOB kitchen. While many high-volume, high-profile restaurants around town source bread from ubiquitous (and quality) bakers like Iggy’s Bread, chef Jeremy Sewall insists on doing it all on the premises. As the opening chef of Great Bay, the predecessor to the ICOB space, Sewall knew he had the ample kitchen space to house a bakery when he returned to open ICOB. “When I got the kitchen back, I knew what I wanted to do,” he says. “The bake shop was the first thing on my mind.”
I recently stopped by the bakery to get a behind-the-scenes look at the bakery from head baker Sean Connolly. Ahead, find a behind-the-scenes peek of where the yeasty magic happens.
Head baker Sean Connolly stands in ICOB’s in-house bakery. He says that 60 percent of the breads head to Eastern Standard, while 30 percent go to ICOB and 10 percent go to The Hawthorne. “It’s not often that you get to use a kitchen this big,” Sewall says.
Here, Connolly measures out honey wheat dough, to be used as table bread (where it’s paired with sweet and salty cayenne-honey butter) at ICOB and as the base for mini tuna melts at The Hawthorne. “The honey wheat is easy to make quickly; I can make a batch of 30 loaves in an hour and a half,” Connolly says.
Above is the mother-starter for sourdough used at Eastern Standard and ICOB; Connolly says that they’ve kept the starter alive for a year.
Those who have had the just-out-of-the-oven warm rolls at Sewall’s flagship Lineage may recognize these adorable little guys (which are ready to go in the oven) — the same recipe is used for the rolls in the fried oyster sliders at ICOB. Sewall has used this bread recipe for 15 years, he says, even back in the day when he was at Great Bay. “The standing joke is that I only have five recipes,” Sewall says. The restaurant goes through 100-150 sliders buns a day, according to Connolly.
Above, Pullman loaves of rye bread are prepared for Eastern Standard’s legendary grilled cheeses. Connolly says that the restaurant goes through four loaves of bread per day just for the cheesy sandwiches, and this number rises to seven per day during colder months.
Lobster roll buns are made from Sewalls’ signature roll recipe as well, and are spiked with rosemary for an earthy punch. The restaurant goes through about 50 a day, Connolly says.
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