Owen & Engine's Fresh Bread | Bucktown, Chicago

Owen & Engine's superb house-made loaves

Of Owen & Engine's many pleasures, one is as sublime as it is unsung: the restaurant's excellent breads, courtesy of pastry chef Crystal Chiang.

Her airy, thin-crust baguette caught our attention during our first visit, its warmed halves cradling rashers of Gunthorp Farms pork, a fried egg, arugula and mayonnaise. At the time, the sandwich was a brunch offering; now it's a dinner staple.

The loaves from Chiang, who learned the bread ropes at Great Harvest Bread Company, then studied pastry at the Culinary Institute of America, are so good, in fact, that on a recent evening, house-made charcuterie played second fiddle to a plate of British-style brown bread. Chiang's version is light and soft, made with both whole-wheat and bread flours and sweetened with treacle to be, she says, "as British as possible."

Other fine baked goods: date-walnut bread that accompanies a plate of British and American cheeses; a buttery potato bun that betters Owen & Engine's burger; and a trio of miniature scones on the restaurant's brunch menu.

The baguette still stands out, too. Our current favorite use has it sliced and brushed with garlic oil, alongside a crock of coddled eggs rich with cheddar, shimeji mushrooms, winter spinach and garlic confit.

Owen & Engine, 2700 N. Western Ave.; 773-235-2930 or owenengine.com