Bread: an ancient foodstuff with immense importance to the rise of humanity throughout history-not only in sustenance but also in many cultural, religious and political ways. There is also a fine art to bread making, and in 2002, John and Angela Sweet opened Niedlov’s Breadworks on Main Street to bring their traditional artisan breads to Chattanooga.
215 E. Main St.
Chattanooga, TN 37408
7 a.m.-6 p.m.
7 a.m.-4 p.m.
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
An epic dining experience: world-class service, décor and menu options.
A superior dining experience: high-quality attributes you’ll want to come back for again and again.
A solid dining experience: great characteristics but also some minor issues.
A mediocre dining experience: may have a few good highlights but major flaws.
A terrible dining experience: stay far away unless it’s the only place left to eat to avoid starvation, and even then, question if it’s worth it.
Even if you haven’t visited their bakery-or purchased loaves from the various places around town that carry them-you may have already tried Niedlov’s bread without even knowing it. Their first order of business was providing restaurants around town with their baked goods, and several restaurants I’ve already reviewed use their products. The Sweets use a naturally leavened process that can take up to 20 hours on their organic artisan loaves, which is a major timesaver of quality craftsmanship for these restaurants.
Until last week, I had never visited their actual bakery-where they started selling directly to customers in 2004. And although primarily a bakery, Niedlov’s also serves lunch in their dining area, so I decided to check it out.
Atmosphere and service
When I first got out of the car, the great weather last Saturday afternoon was heightened by slight smells of bread baking. And upon walking into Niedlov’s, the heavy, heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread swirled up my nose, tickling pleasure sensors in my brain to elicit an immediate smile.
The area was open, with a high ceiling displaying the pipe work running across, windows lining the walls and a crafty, folksy wood feel throughout the decor. Various freshly baked goods were displayed both inside and behind the glass counter with a view of the bakery in the back.
Orders for baked goods and their lunch menu are placed at the counter. The lady taking my order this afternoon was friendly and knowledgeable about the vast variety of items Niedlov’s offers, answering all questions with in-depth responses.
The lunch items are made fresh and brought out to the table after ordering-only taking about 10 minutes on this visit, and they were busy. The baked goods I purchased were given to me immediately after payment.
I had heard good things about Niedlov’s cinnamon rolls, but someone in line in front of me got the last one. So-rather than trying to ninja-snatch the cinnamon roll from their table while they weren’t looking-I opted for an almond croissant instead ($2.49).
This sweet croissant had a firm, golden outer crust glistening with glaze over its chopped almond exterior. The cotton-soft interior was swirled with a sweet almond cream and topped with powdered sugar. This was a wonderfully light and not overly sweet pastry-and to the person who took the last cinnamon roll, I greatly enjoyed my almond croissant, thank-you-very-much.
Also going with another sweet-from the Sweets (obligatory bad last name pun)-first while waiting on the sandwiches, I went ahead and tried the molasses and ginger cookie (99 cents). It was sitting there begging to be eaten with its crystallized ginger glittering in the sunlight coming through the window, so I didn’t have the willpower to wait-and who says dessert has to always come last, anyway?
This darkly rich and sweet cookie was moist with the thick, sticky molasses infiltrating throughout its cinnamon- and ginger-baked cookie dough. And with the crystallized ginger covering the exterior, this cookie was like crack for gingerbread men.
When the sandwiches arrived, the first one that caught my eye was the heart-shaped “mushrooben” ($7.49). This portabella mushroom Reuben was my vegetarian selection for this afternoon, and I’d never had a Reuben without corned beef, so this sandwich seemed interesting-and heartbreaking to split the artistry.
I didn’t miss the corned beef at all. In my Polish heritage, mushroom and sauerkraut is one of my favorite flavor combinations-particularly in pierogi. The kraut was lightly fermented and not overly sour, melding well with the earthy portabella, Russian dressing and creamy melted Swiss on this toasted deli rye bread. This was a hearty rye (bad pun intended) toasted firm with a nice caraway bite to perfectly complement the strong flavors housed inside the sandwich.
Served to the side, the garlic and dill deli pickle spear was crispy and, much like the kraut, had a refreshingly light fermented flavor that tasted homemade.
Next I tried the “club Niedlov’s” ($7.99), which had turkey, ham, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, olive tapenade, brown mustard and Swiss cheese on their signature stoneground whole wheat bread. This was a thick-cut, wholesome bread with a rich wheat bran flavor, and the tapenade and brown mustard spread on it was an excellent flavor mixture. The meats and cheese were high-quality deli cuts, and the lettuce and tomato were fresh. This tall sandwich was a huge mouthful of goodness.
Of course, I couldn’t go out the door without purchasing one of their tasty artisan loaves to take home-and the person with me bought four of them. I grabbed the four-seed loaf made with organic whole wheat flour, organic sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds, sea salt and water-and those are literally all the ingredients. This bread was loaded with seeds, both covering the crust and baked into its interior.
I had some great sandwiches and perfect pieces of toast in the glorious days following this visit to Niedlov’s, and I plan to go back to snag more of their other artisanal bread selections in the future.
I am giving Niedlov’s Breadworks 3 stars. Their slogan-“We love to knead. We knead to love.”-is not only clever wordplay, but it also seems to be the driving backbone behind the way this operation runs. There is noticeable craftsmanship behind what they are doing in all aspects, and they are doing it right with knowledgeable employees and a comfortable atmosphere for those who’d like to grab a lunch there-or snag a loaf of artisanal bread on the go.
Roman Flis is a wandering writer, focusing on Chattanooga’s food scene. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter or contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Updated @ 12:07 p.m. on 09/20/12 to add Niedlov’s lunch hours.