- Aimee Levitt
- An almond butter and strawberry-vanilla jam sandwich with peach lemonade
You could argue that the appearance of Beurrage, a Viennese-style bakery, represents the further gentrification of Pilsen, and you could also argue that it’s ridiculous to pay $5.50 for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, “artisanal” or not. The counterargument is there is always room anywhere for a good croissant and, anyway, Beurrage itself is a product of Pilsen: it began two years ago as a booth in the neighborhood farmer’s market. Bakers Jeffrey Hallenbeck and Isaiah Simpson make everything with cultured butter: they allow their cream to ferment slightly into creme fraiche and then hand-churn it, which sounds like a real pain in the ass. And, finally, yes, that sandwich is completely worth the $5.50, even without chips or a salad. If all peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were like this, peanut butter and jelly would not be the default for brown-bag lunches. It would be reserved for special occasions.
Technically, my sandwich was almond butter and strawberry-vanilla jam on white bread. I’d had my choice of nut butter (the others were peanut and chocolate-hazelnut), bread (I passed up croissant loaf and oatmeal), and jam (there was also blueberry, cherry, and black or red raspberry). The bread was soft and light, and the almond butter and jam were a mix of sweet and salty without being cloying. It was extremely comforting. This is probably why people first started making nut butter and jelly sandwiches, only the process got corrupted over the years.
All the nut butters and jams are made in-house, but they’re not for sale, which makes me very sad because I won’t be able to duplicate this sandwich at home.
The other sad part is that Beurrage rotates its offerings regularly, so the nut butter and jam sandwich might not be available the next time I go there. On the other hand, this provides an opportunity to try whatever else they’ve decided to make that day. The selection of breads, pastries, and quiches varies, too. Hallenbeck and Simpson aren’t totally heartless, though: the croissants are always for sale—plain, chocolate, and almond—and they are very, very good, shatteringly crisp on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside, and buttery throughout.
Beurrage, 1248 W. 18th Street, 773-998-2371, beurrage.com