What’s good here?
Crusty, wholesome, European style breads. Owners Mark and Angie Lowery begin baking bread before many of us are entering REM sleep. At 4 a.m., dough is started for such breads as ciabatta, rustic baguettes, olive or smoked gouda levain, Rosewood sourdough and focaccia. Most dough is naturally leavened and started with what is called a “mother starter” that has been perpetuated at Crust.
The owners use all King Arthur flour, which Mark says has a high protein content. The bakers have their ongoing bread offerings, but they also enjoy experimenting. On one particular day, for example, there were different varieties of focaccia: pesto chevre, red pepper and artichoke and lemon rosemary.
Bread is baked in small batches to maintain exceptional quality; when it sells out, there is no more until the next day. The owners will, however, fulfill some custom orders as well as cater for smaller events and meetings. Recently, the couple made hamburger and hot dog buns to fill a specific order.
The breakfast crowd enjoys the variety of sweet and savory scones. Flavors may include crystallized ginger and toasted pecans, cranberry and walnut, country ham and Spanish cheese, bacon and gorgonzola, or cheese and jalapeno. Varieties are posted regularly on Facebook.
There is also a sampling of muffins, such as raspberry, blackberry and blueberry. Occasionally, there are three-berry muffins. Customers can grab a cup of coffee at the coffee station. Coffee is from a small-batch, micro-roaster in Portland, Maine. “We try to use local when we can, but if we can’t we use small, high quality companies as sources,” says Mark.
Scones and muffins typically sell out in the morning. By mid-day and through the afternoon, patrons are interested in the breads and desserts. Some desserts might include chocolate Madeleines, interesting cookies, such as molasses – a “big seller” – and chocolate cork, which is a rich chocolate dessert with 62 percent cocoa pieces rolled in brewed coffee while it is warm.
Another product, not made in the bakehouse but highly recommended, is the hand-made pasta from a small company in Charleston. Besides the standard cheese ravioli, there is ravioli stuffed with Mepkin Abbey oyster mushrooms and ricotta cheese. Sellouts are ravioli stuffed with she-crab; sweet potato, gorgonzola, and walnut; and, truffle and lobster.
What does the place look like?
There is no seating. The Bakehouse is all carry out. The interior includes a coffee station, glass-front freezer for homemade pastas, pastry case and bread bins. The baking area is open, which means the smells of the breads envelope everyone who enters.
How did Crust’s Bakehouse get its start?
The Lowerys took classes together or separately at various places: Johnson and Wales, King Arthur Flour, and the San Francisco Baking Institute before embarking on the quest to make the “perfect” pizza crust. They had a mobile brick oven and attended festivals for a while – with the ultimate intention of running a brick and mortar bakery.
The next step was renting baking space at Rosewood Market, where they sold their goods. Then, in November 2012, the Lowerys opened Crust Bakehouse on Rosewood Drive – across from the icon establishment The Pizza Man. The couple borrowed a famous saying by poet Robert Browning for their motto: “If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Who are Crust’s customers?
Neighbors from the Shandon, Rosewood and Wells Garden areas. Many of the patrons are USC professors, administrators, or students. “We wanted a neighborhood place where people could walk in and grab quality baked goods,” says Mark. “We get a lot of walking traffic.”