Three Greater Boston Bakeries to Try on This Crisp Fall Weekend
The brown-butter chocolate chip cookies of your dreams, Haitian American treats, and babka galore.
Welcome to Three to Try. At the end of the week, we share three restaurant or dish recommendations for the weekend—sometimes new, sometimes old, always delicious.
Something about crisp fall days makes me crave baked goods more than usual. What’s more autumn in New England than strolling down a crunchy-leaf-covered sidewalk, snacking on a warm croissant while countless pastry flakes get trapped in the nooks and crannies of your chunky sweater? No? That’s just my particular autumn in New England? Not to worry: Read through these recommendations, and you too can spend the next month with your face covered in melted chocolate as you enjoy snacking your way through the final weeks of pleasant outdoor time before the bitter cold sets in.
The three bakeries featured in this week’s roundup are all recent-ish openings—within the last two years, anyway—and have all been delighting me lately; I think they’ll delight you, too. (And, since the sun is shining and I’m feeling generous, here’s a bonus fourth recommendation: Look back at my Three to Try roundup from September 2 to get to know another excellent new bakery, Yafa Bakery & Café in Somerville.)
La Saison Bakery
If you know of this almost-two-year-old bakery in Cambridge, you probably already know that the sourdough bread is an absolute must—you’ll definitely want to pre-order a loaf. But that’s not all: The buttery croissants are irresistible; the slices of chocolate pudding cake are luxurious; the brown-butter chocolate chip cookies are the indie version of the best Mrs. Fields cookie you remember from your childhood. (In fact, that’s the inspiration, as baker and co-owner Soheil Fathi told me when the shop opened in late 2020. He grew up in Tehran, Iran, and when relatives would come to visit from the United States, they’d bring Mrs. Fields cookies. “That’s the smell and taste of America to me,” Fathi said, “that brown butter.”)
Grab one of everything, plus some Persian tea or an espresso hot chocolate, and have yourself a nice little fall picnic in the expansive Danehy Park nearby.
407 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-547-0009, lasaison-bakery.com.
Grêp Kafé & Sweets Bakery
This spring 2022 opening has been such an exciting addition to the Haines Square neighborhood of Medford—exciting for me, in particular, since that’s my neighborhood! But exciting for you, too, because everything at this Haitian American bakery is delicious, and it’s certainly worth the drive if you don’t live as close as I do. You’ve got to start on the savory side of the menu and get one of the Haitian patés, flaky puff pastry stuffed with beef, herring, codfish, or chicken. And if you visit on the weekend, there’s usually soup as well: Haitian beef stew on Saturdays and soup joumou (a Haitian squash soup—and celebration of independence) on Sundays.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the sweets on my visits to Grêp yet since I always fill up on patés, but you’ll find a range of treats, from pain patate (Haitian sweet potato pudding) to cupcakes and cookies, and you can order beautifully decorated custom cakes.
Don’t miss the beverage fridge, especially the house-made drinks; I’m partial to the corossol (soursop) passionfruit juice and the foskao, a complex chocolate drink made with evaporated milk, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, lime, and cinnamon. (Think chocolate milk for adults, or maybe kids with especially refined palates.)
466 Salem St., Medford, 781-327-6526, grepkafebakery.com.
The first thing you notice when you walk into Bakey, which opened right across from Boston Common a little over a year ago, is the incredible smell: so much fresh bread. And chocolate. The Bakey team is constantly, well, baking—the place was founded on an obsession with freshness. Warm dough, melty chocolate, gooey cheese.
The second thing you’ll notice is all the babka: chocolate babka, almond babka, raspberry babka, cinnamon babka—co-founder and baker Uri Scheft, who is Danish and Israeli, is known for his babka, so you should definitely order some. (New to the world of babka? Born in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe a couple centuries back, it’s a decadent yeasted loaf that lives somewhere in between bread and cake, where the dough—often a challah dough or similar—is rolled or braided around various fillings.)
Don’t be afraid to venture into other baked goods, too: The cheese stick—gouda-stuffed puff pastry—is a must-try.
151 Tremont St., Boston, 617-670-0114, bakeybabka.com.