Newly Opened Amaranth Bakery, 3329 W. Lisbon, Best Soup & Bakery in Town
Here is an outstanding review by Caroline Goyette of the “Shepherd Express.”*
Good Bread, Good Health
Amaranth more than fills that bill, offering what are easily some of the best breads and bakery in the city, in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere.
During the years Shipley and Boucher spent renovating the building—restoring the original woodwork, laying earth-friendly bamboo floors and installing a solar-heated water system—Shipley also worked on her baking. She had become increasingly interested in “food as health,” she says, and in natural yeast baking in particular. “For a long time, I was a compulsive dieter, and I really began to make peace with food and enjoy it. I began to read more about organic food and making food as healthy as possible, about old methods of doing things,” she explains.
Part of those old methods included using whole, organic grains, seeds and other natural products in baking as well as a from-scratch process; Shipley developed her own sourdough starters (used in place of commercial yeast, they produce a more nutritious bread) and doesn’t take shortcuts in her baking.
Amaranth itself, an ancient grain high in protein, vitamins and minerals, is representative for Shipley of the bakery’s dedication to a slower, healthier approach to food. “Amaranth was widely used before wheat became this huge industry … it just fell out of favor when we started mono-cropping corn and wheat.” The bakery sells an amaranth multi-grain bread along with a variety of others, all of which change daily; they also offer artisan rolls, baked goods such as scones, croissants and pecan rolls, and a soup-of-the-day.
We sampled a range of Amaranth’s offerings one Saturday afternoon over coffee and magazines, the kind of experience the cafe’s atmosphere invites. Simply put, one after another, these breads and pastries were some of the best we’d ever tasted. The currant oat scone managed to be dense and crunchy with grains and light and flavorful at the same time. Hearty currant rye rolls—terrific with brie—offered striking taste and texture. Of the loaves we sampled, one ample, golden crust broke open to a soft bread specked with garlic; another, to a dark interior streaked with rich chocolate. By the time we sampled the soup of the day, potato seasoned with bacon and thick with fresh vegetables, we were more than satisfied. (Amaranth also offers vegetarian soups; all are made fresh daily using natural or organic stocks and fresh produce).
Amaranth’s restored storefront and interior are a clear draw. Natural light fills the café from the floor-to-ceiling windows, accented at the top with pebbled, multicolored glass, fabricated locally.
Purples and yellows are striking without being distracting; brightly colored paintings hang on the walls; a table full of magazines invites a good read.
While we eat, Boucher visits with customers and works the counter; a table of women exclaim over scones and tea; a group of activists chat over coffee. Neighbors stream in for bakery or soup to go.
517–4348 Bakery Cell Phone
934–0587 Dave’s Desk Phone
One of First Winter’s Menus
Rustic White Boule
Wheat Bran Rolls
Currant Rye Rolls
Fig Bars *new*
Soup: Cheddar Broccoli (vegetarian)
Soup: Roasted Sweet Potato ((vegetarian)
Soup: Spicy Chicken with Hominy
Soup: Manhattan Clam Chowder
Soup: Sausage Bean
1/2 price on day-old baked goods
The Amaranth Baker and Cafe just might become the hub of the Milwaukee’s Old West Side’s reclamation. It has served as the meeting place for artists, artisans, and culture workers considering major investments in the industrial buildings and brown fields of the 30th St. Industrial Corridor. Here are some of the buildings within walking distance of the Amaranth.