Adam Spears’ Local Loaf perches on one corner of 7th Street Public Market, emitting fresh-baked-bread aromas and pretty effectively hiding the high-brow-ness of its offerings.
Y’all: This is some fancy stuff, in common stuff clothing.
Take the ham and Brie sandwich, for instance. Yeah, there’s the ham and the Brie. But then there’s the chunky mango chutney, the lightly pickled cucumbers and the radish microgreens. All on a length of hand-rolled (read: old school) beautiful baguette. Plus the housemade, browned, thin and delicate, yet hearty-flavored chips. Yow.
Or look more closely at the steak sandwich. That’s thick slices of marinated skirt steak, still red-pink in the center, and that’s horseradish garlic aioli slathered on the greens atop aged white cheddar, and that, well, that’s red onion jam. Yum.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Or get a gander of that chicken sandwich. Is that Cheerwine-chipotle honey glaze glossing those crispy fried tenders, under that handsome poached egg? Yep.
Spears and staff can do an array of bakery and breakfasty feats, from what they call “European-inspired” croissants to biscuits and bagels and brioche tarted up in various forms (even in a Monte Cristo!). And though there’s a definite sweet tooth showing in nearly all the combinations, there’s no fear of heat (hello, candied jalapenos) and the Loaf’s cucumber and red onion salad can reset your palate when necessary.
Baguettes are most popular, Spears says, and he is perhaps proudest that chef Charles Semail, for whom he used to work and whom he considers “a father figure, definitely,” deemed them (insert French accent here): “superbe.”
Spears, who also lists Johnson & Wales instructor/chef Harry Peemoeller as a key influence, says he got passionate about bread when he moved here from Columbus, Ohio, and couldn’t find the breads he loved. “Where’s the crusty stuff?” he wondered.
So he learned to bake it himself, selling at Atherton Mill briefly (he used to proof on his balcony, with his heat turned all the way up and the dryer going in the laundry room). He used to be sous chef at Heist, where he also baked interestingly.
Now he emphasizes local and regional ingredients, and says when he does a daily special, everything comes from inside the Market. He designates Chicken & the Egg (see aforementioned Cheerwine-chipotle detail) his signature sandwich.
Here, as with the other Market spots, you order at a counter and grab a seat where you can. Folks taking orders displayed solid knowledge of the offerings and how they’re prepared; the only thing they weren’t sure of was which loaves were headed to restaurants and which weren’t. (The Asbury at the Dunhill is a customer, as are Bang Bang Burgers and Dandelion Market.)
“We’re trying to make a little bit of a bread statement, for sure,” says Spears. He’s succeeding.