All Good Bakers – Albany, NY

Those of us who have been around the capital region for the past several years know that the bigger name bakeries are just not great. I’ve spoken in the past about my frustration with the Italian bakeries that don’t even have good bread.

It’s become more and more attractive to me to purchase my baked goods at the bakery stands at the local farmers markets because there’s a dedication to quality and the added bonus of the dedication to sustainability. The issue with the local farmers markets is that they’re only there when they’re there, and, although I’m sure you could place a special order, it’s difficult to ensure that what you want will be there when you get there.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a local mom-and-pop bakery dedicated to local and sustainable products that’s open for more than a few hours every week?

All Good Bakers recently opened a new shop in the Delaware Avenue South (or Delso) neighborhood that has has hours throughout the week. It has been featured in the past on All Over Albany and many other local blogs, and it took me until the week before they closed up shop at their old shop to actually visit.

My initial impressions on the visit to that place was that I liked their bread and that I really liked their little snacks.

Ever since they’ve opened at 540 Delaware Ave, I’ve been eager to sit down in the shop and have a sandwich and some soup.

We made the trip over to that end of Albany just after noon on a Saturday. They were already starting to get busy; the four tables in the front area were occupied (one by fellow blogger Jen of Jen is Green, who is someone I’d totally expect to love this place based on the foods I’ve seen her write about).

We took a quick second to look over the menu, while simultaneously looking at the baked goods for sale. There’s a lot to take in.

I initially ordered a Delso Cookie and a Caramel apple pecan philmore. I would have also had a peanut butter energy ball, and a pain au chocolat, and a delicious looking frosted bun, and …you get the point. Everything looked delicious. But I had to focus.

From the grilled cheese sandwiches, I ordered the “YEM” (You Enjoy My) sandwich [black pepper camembert with onion chutney on country French sourdough bread – $5]. I also ordered a cup of the soup, black bean habanero [$2.50]. (Side note: Is the soup and half sandwich deal at Panera even under $8 any more? #justsayin #PaneraSucks)

To drink, I had many options, but I had to go for the Meadowbrook farms chocolate milk [$2.50 for a small].

While we sat and waited for our lunch, I snacked on the Delso Cookie.

It was very moist and packed with lots of things, (obviously) butter, flour, butterscotch, dried cranberries, chocolate. It was a little busy, I guess. Tasty, but not something I’d get again.

I sipped on my chocolate milk, served in a cute little jar, after I ate my cookie.

It didn’t take long for our sandwiches to arrive. And mine looked spectacular.

This is definitely the grownup extension to the grilled cheese experience. R&G’s black pepper camembert cheese (locally made) is topped with a sweet, slightly sour, and crunchy onion chutney and then sandwiched by two slices of All Good’s French sourdough bread. The bread is toasted lightly in butter that they make on site with Meadowbrook farms cream. I like that it was lightly toasted in the butter because it leaves some of the chewy texture to the bread and also didn’t melt the cheese away. The onion chutney acted as the slightly acidic counterpoint to the cheese and buttery bread.

My soup arrived moments later. I thought the presentation was cute.

I’m pretty down about ordering soups in general because I usually find that they’re not substantial and are uninteresting. In this case, this little 2-3 oz portion of soup left me totally satisfied. The soup was mainly beans with other vegetables like carrots and potatoes with just enough liquid to keep it together. I felt like it was well seasoned and spiced nicely; habanero can usually take the heat past a comfortable level, but it didn’t here at all. It was kind of fun to eat around the little dollop of sour cream on top; the challenge of trying to get just enough sour cream in each bite kept this an engaging experience.

I had the caramel apple pecan philmore be my dessert.

Britin described this to me as their croissant dough wrapped around caramel, apples, and pecans. It was buttery and delicious. The bottom was sticky and had some good spice. The apples distributed throughout the pastry had a nice, chewy texture but still had some snap to them. Occasionally, there was a whole pecan in the mix. The buttery pastry worked nicely with the nuts and apple.

What is clear from the meal is that all of the love and dedication that you can tell goes into promoting their products throughout the social media outlets is a real thing. If you follow them on facebook, you get to read all about their products and how they source their goods, things that show that they have a deep passion for their food and for the area. Their list of suppliers shows that they’re not just phoning it to the Sysco truck. They’re taking the time to forge relationships with the local providers and allowing their own products to shine. If they keep it up, with their eye on quality, they are destined for success.


19 thoughts on “All Good Bakers – Albany, NY

  • Jen

    You are so right..I’m obsessed with this place!! Nice seeing you, too Jerry! You need to get the cinnamon bun next time…to die for.

  • -R.

    Nice review. I have enjoyed AGBs creations on a couple occasions, and haven’t been disappointed. I have yet to make it to the new location which I hope to remedy soon.

    I know that Mr. Fussy has named AGB ‘Best New Restaurant’ to open in the past year on his blog, and not to diminish the proprietor’s produce or abilities in any way, I have to ask: Do you consider AGB a restaurant, a bistro, a cafe, a bakery, or some permutation of the above? While Mr. Fussy would disagree (based upon “putting flavors together, balancing colors, textures, heat and sweet….”) , I can’t wrap my head around AGB as a restaurant in the purest sense of the word. Mr. Fussy accurately describes what a chef is or can do, but fails to make the distinction about the physical place called a restaurant. I’m not saying I need fine flatware and linen napkins, but I do require waitstaff (essentially by definition). To me, a restaurant provides a broader array of items, based upon more than soups and sandwiches: entrees that one might consider pairing with appetizers, desserts, (or wines/spirits); an array of cooking techniques or styles brought to bear, a varied palette of ingredients and the skill to make something wholly unexpected from the seemingly mundane or the completely unique. One should also be able to obtain a complete meal at a restaurant (one that is both filling and fulfilling).

    Again, while I don’t doubt the abilities of the proprietors, nor disallow them the moniker of “chef”, I simply have problems calling their establishment a restaurant. If we were in Italy, one would probably consider this place a paninoteca. Cafe, yes. Bistro, fine. Restaurant, no – not yet at least.

    • derryX

      I agree with you completely. The location is fairly limiting from the quantity of diners they can accommodate. It is set up like a cafe, and there are a few small tables, but restaurant it is not. You can obtain a complete meal there, and they’re great at what they’re doing, including putting together flavors, but it’s a very small place to dine.

    • B

      “Best boulangerie in the Capitol Region”?

  • Daniel B.

    @B – Nope. They get the FUSSYlittleBALLOT’s vote for Best new restaurant in the Capital Region. Get it right [wink]. Seriously, more restaurants need to take a page from their book.

    Shameless link plug:

    • derryX

      I didn’t really expect this to turn into the whole “Is it a restaurant?” thing, but, as a resource that people turn to for information about our local places, I think you’re leading people down the wrong path. AGB is doing great things, for the neighborhood, for the culinary standards in the area, and for themselves. They’re working hard, slowly expanding into something more than a bakery, but to set peoples’ expectations to believe that they’re a full blown restaurant is just crazy.

      Bakery – yes. Cafe – kind of/yes. Bistro – not really. Restaurant – nope.

      I don’t think disagreeing with this is a knock on Britin, Nick, or their business at all. You can dine at places that are not restaurants, and there can be great stuff at places that are not restaurants, and that’s the certainly case here.

      • B

        Hah, as semantic as I sometimes get, the ting is most of us don’t care what people are calling it, we’re just enjoying it. The seitan “chorizo” hash is awesome. Eat more, talk less 😉

        • derryX

          Thats what I meant about not wanting this to turn into the whole restaurant vs whatever argument. I honestly didn’t even pay attention when Daniel said it; it wasn’t until I was asked that I said my (long) piece.

          I think bottom line it’s good.

  • Britin @ All Good

    Firstly, thank you derryX for coming in to see us and for this lovely review.

    Second, in light of the above discussion, I looked up the definition of “restaurant”. I certainly understand the parsing considering the various types of dining establishments that abound; and I appreciate the kindness, sesitivity and praise with which your question was posed R, thank you.

    A restaurant is defined as: “A place where meals are served to the public”, originating from the French word (restaurer) meaning “to restore”, from the Old French “Restorer”. (link: I think we qualify under both of these definitions, but also agree that we may perhaps be difficult to pigeonhole with attempts to classify us further. That’s okay with us – maybe we need a category all our own (Hole in the Wall? probably wouldn’t win any “best of’s” with that one, but our current seating limitations surely qualify us).

    Nick alone creates our lunch menu and he & our new sous chef Lauren prepare our sandwiches, soups and salads in-house, from-scratch, with fresh, whole produce. I’m not sure the other coffeehouses and such do so (some of whom we frequent and in no way disparage). We’ve got a six burner stove w/ griddle that is cranked up before and during service daily, and the ovens are on more often than they are off. We’ll leave our formal classification up to you guys, but I like the thought of us as “restorers” – good clean food is truly restorative and our goal is to provide delicious offerings with that in mind.

    We’re thrilled to be included on the FussylittleBallot 3.0, in any case 🙂

    • derryX

      I think your mindset is absolutely acceptable, but I also think it’s important to mind the audience. If someone with an influence on where people go sets expectations for something too high, the credibility is lost when the experience doesn’t meet those expectations. If I were to come out and say that the meal I had on Saturday was better than everything I ever ate at the finest restaurants in Albany, I don’t think that’s doing a service to anybody.

      I intend that my role as a blogger presenting this is to portray an accurate representation of my experience. I don’t think I scratched the surface on the things that you guys, Nick especially, can create (and quite honestly, I don’t think you guys have either — not that I think you’re holding back at all, but that given the limited scope of what you guys are doing at this moment, you’re doing what you can and what you want to). I think that I was able to sample enough of a cross section that the presentation of my experience gives anyone who reads this a good idea of what to expect. I don’t want people who read to set their expectations beyond reasonable expectations. Furthermore, I’m just one data point. People should never take what one person says as the end all; they should forge their own opinions based on their own experiences. Gathering data on places to try is why we have the internet.

      I think that winning a Best Of nod should really be neither here nor there for any business; that’s not the end goal (of course it would look cool). The goal should be to make money. Consistently churning out quality and continuously striving to improve will help with this. I think that so far, you guys are excelling at this. Being recognized as a “Best Of” should come hand in hand with this naturally eventually. What makes this difficult is that the public voting in the poll are quick to recognize what is convenient as their criteria for “the best.” Getting people to experience things outside of their convenience and to vote for this is the challenge. I think that the blogging community that is trying to help expose people to things they may not know about is doing a fine job, but the audience we reach barely scratches the surface.

      I think that the food scene in the area should improve and following some of the ideas that you have implemented would be great ways for that improvement to accelerate. I’m not behind the idea of asking or making people vote for something for the sake of it just to get it down on paper. I want people to flock to the things that are special, but that’s less about seeing it in a best of list and more about the word of mouth.

      I spoke with a coworker about my experience in the shop today, and I didn’t tell them I thought it was the best restaurant in the area. It actually took me a full minute of explanation followed with “you really just have to see it for yourself” to really describe the shop. I honestly think that’s really cool, and something that’s unique about the shop. If everybody described it that way to one friend, it would certainly increase traffic and peoples’ expectations would be reasonable. These two consequences should be more important than making it onto the best of list artificially. That’s just my two cents.

      • B

        The goal should be to make money.

        No, there are a lot better ways to do that than run a restaurant. Don’t put the cart before the horse before the carrot.

  • Daniel B.

    I’d say that’s more like your buck-fifty.

  • Valerae

    Regardless of whether this is a a true restaurant or not, I’m totally going there for lunch today. Great review, as always!

  • -S

    “If someone with an influence on where people go […]”

    Who is that mysterious person? My kingdom for a name.

  • Britin @ All Good Bakers

    Word of mouth and “guerilla” (i.e., very low cost) marketing is how we’ve grown so far and we fully believe that is the best way to gain a loyal following, but getting on these “best of” lists is pretty much free advertising and we just can’t kick that gift-horse in the mouth (especially w/ the TU list since it will reach a far wider audience than we could ourselves w/ our limited advertising budget). We really appreciate how in-depth the conversation has gone on here about AGB and for all of the very kind words from all of you. Thank you!

  • Katherine

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed the chorizo, B. Indeed, Nick sure knows what he’s doing with seitan. I hope you make it back to check out how he’s using our seitan corned beef!


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