Baker's Window goes wild on State

The State Street bakery attached to the Fountain restaurant and bar is back open with new bakers who double as managers.

Baker’s Window at the Fountain, 122 State St., reopened Nov. 9 and brought out its full menu last Tuesday, said Ben Goeckner, head baker and back of the house manager. Nicole Swain is the pastry chef and front of the house manager.

The bakery is putting out bread, crackers, crostini, croutons, Danishes, croissants, scones, muffins and cookies.

One of Goeckner’s specialty items is his 11-grain loaf, which he said he likes to call “wild, bleeding love” because it includes amaranth, which is known as “love-lies-bleeding.” It also contains wild rice.

Amaranthis, a flowering plant, is common in Southern Illinois, where Goeckner is from. “It kind of grows everywhere. It has a nice, nutty flavor,” he said, adding that it gives the bread an added bit of texture.

Another specialty is fougasse, a bread famous in France that Goeckner compares to the art form of sculpting bonsai trees. Goeckner said he likes to make interesting shapes with the breads, typically foccacia, by cutting holes in it and sometimes stretching it.

His original cranberry and black pepper crackers have been popular since he opened, as has Swain’s jasmine honey-infused pastry cream puff, Goeckner said.

They got hit so hard on their first day that they sold-out of pretty much everything, he said.

So far, there’s been a lot of confusion with his customers thinking that he and Swain are the former bakers or are using the same recipes.

“We are completely different from what was here before,” Goeckner said. “All of the bread and cracker recipes are mine, and are completely original. I didn’t get them out of any book or anything like that.”

The pastry side is all Swain’s personal recipes, he said. “We probably spent three or four weeks doing experiments and testing, figuring out baking times and temps and fermentation times.”

Baker’s Window is an all-organic bakery, which uses as many local items as it possibly can, Goeckner said.

The bakery is a separate entity that works together with the restaurant, he said. It is responsible for making all of the Fountain’s bread and the crackers for its soups.

Goeckner, 28, said he has been baking his whole life. His grandmother got him into it and took him to baking competitions in Southern Illinois.

Buck and Badger opening this week

Buck and Badger Northwoods Lodge, in a section of the former Ian’s Pizza space at 115 State St., is expected to open Monday or Wednesday, depending on how construction goes, said owner Jack Sosnowski.

The menu, featuring rustic comfort food, has been narrowed a bit, said Sosnowski, who with his wife, Julie Stoleson, also owns Capital Tap Haus at 107 State St., and the newly expanded Ivory Room Piano Bar, which now also has an entrance on State Street.

The Buck and Badger menu includes a buffalo potpie, a grilled cheese fondue that you dip in tomato soup, make-your-own s’mores, and a Wisconsin duck roll with roasted duck that is pulled and stuffed in an eggroll and served with fresh cranberries and a cranberry dipping sauce.

There will also be beer brat corn dogs, salads, and wild game burgers including a lamb burger, bison burger and boar burger.

The restaurant’s large children’s menu will include spaghetti, baked macaroni and cheese, toasted peanut butter and jelly, and fish sticks.

“We’ve been seeing a lot more families Downtown, especially on the weekends at the Tap Haus, so we want to be family-friendly,” Sosnowski said.

Palmyra reopening

The Middle Eastern restaurant, Palmyra, owned by Rabeh Bnyat, who used to run Shish Cafe, has been closed in recent weeks as it was last spring.

A sign on the door says it will be opening soon under new management.