In Scandinavia, bread is ingrained in the lifestyle. A brødskive, which translates literally as “bread slice” and means open-faced sandwich, is the go-to meal for the start, middle, and end of an average day. With the arrival of the Danish bakery chain Meyers Bageri — an American expansion engineered by Claus Meyer, a co-founder of Copenhagen’s blockbuster restaurant Noma — New Yorkers can now craft such meals for themselves. In June, the franchise came to Grand Central Terminal; in July a Brooklyn location opened in Williamsburg, on an unassuming corner off Metropolitan Avenue.
At the latter location, the full loaves of bread are the main attraction. This is game-changing bread, bread that when warmed transcends toast and becomes the meal itself. I lived with Meyers loaves in my kitchen for two weeks, and they dominated my days: I went to bed to wake up to eat them.
The bakery (bageri in Danish) offers three main full-loaf options: white sourdough, wheat sourdough, and rye. The sourdoughs are bubbly, bitter, and wet. A toasted or pan-grilled slice with butter is a melty joy. The rye is unlike anything I’ve seen in American bread before: 100 percent rye, no wheat, with entire rye chops (berries) crushed like cracked oats, soaked with sunflower seeds overnight, and added to the fermented sour starter. Each bite is salty, crunchy, and unforgettable.
The quality of this bread is the result of extensive r&d. The signature sour starter that’s used in most of the shop’s goods is a 50/50 split of organic white flour and a house-milled heirloom whole wheat originally grown in northern Denmark and southern Sweden. (Meyer recently partnered with farms in Maine and upstate New York to keep production local, so his particular strain of whole wheat will soon be harvested on this side of the Atlantic.) Head baker Jacques Johnson describes the high-hydration wheat loaf as a “whole-wheat ciabatta,” while the white sourdough is closer to French bread in fluffiness. The white sour blend was fine-tuned by Chad Robertson of renowned San Francisco bakery Tartine. In other words, what we’re eating on Driggs Avenue represents the best of current bread wisdom.
The shop’s secondary business is pastries, and here we find mixed results. Anything featuring the Meyers marzipan (the poppy-seeded tebirke or the everything-seeded frøsnapper) is outstanding — the marzipan is subtle and cheerful — but the cinnamon roll (kanelsnurre), which ought to be a knockout, falls flat. Scandinavian cinnamon rolls are free of the sugar and goo that coat our Cinnabons, but these are altogether too understated, too tasteless, too dry.
Elsewhere behind the counter you’ll find inventive muffins (one made of beets!), fudgy cookies, and tangy sea buckthorn tarts. The danishes (spandauer) are oddly ordinary, but Johnson occasionally fills them with seasonal thrills: blackberry tarragon, or brown sugar cream and lingonberry.
Meyers Bageri’s caffeinated beverages — a reliable drip coffee, a fancy iced cappuccino, an “apple power” tea, a hot chai that isn’t too sweet — are of the standard, serviceable variety. It’s nothing you can’t get within a two-block radius. But maybe that’s just what they ought to be: a modest accompaniment to the main act.
667 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn