By Nancy Tannler
3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Open seven days a week
Sunday-Thursday 8 am to close
Friday and Saturday 8 am to close
At the beginning of the resurrection of Hawthorne Blvd. from a desolate three bar thoroughfare to the thriving city center it is today, one restaurant has remained at the forefront of the change, the Bread and Ink Cafe. Thirty two years ago four partners decided to open the restaurant: chef Gray Wolf, chef Pattie Hill, Sarah Laughlin, and Bruce Fishback, originally employees of Genoa.
The restaurant they envisioned would serve food that had the same quality as Genoa’s but more affordable to the people in the neighborhood. Over the years three of the partners went different ways but Bruce Fishback remained as anchor while the boulevard grew. In recent years he has expanded the restaurant to include his whole family with The Waffle Window.
After graduating from college, Fishback knew he wanted to do something independent rather than follow the dream offered by the corporate world. He began a small bakery with his brother making baguettes, his first foray into the world of the restaurateur. Change in youth is inevitable and when the bakery folded, Fishback went to work as a server at Genoa.
When Bread and Ink Cafe first opened they only breakfast and lunch was served. During these early years, they offered a four course Yiddish brunch featuring bagels, bialys, strudel, smoked fish, eggs, lox, onions, blintzes – traditional food that satisfied many of the people living in the neighborhood. When they expanded their hours to serve dinner, the menu became more Mediterranean/French country food and has continued to evolve since then.
Everything at Bread and Ink is made from scratch. Fishback knew how to make breads, his wife Mary O’Rourke helped with the dessert preparation and over the years, he learned to cook from the original chefs. Eventually, as the other partners dropped out, he became the main chef at the restaurant. Although he has handed this duty off to others these days, he and O’Rourke helped steer the place to the expansive, creative menu they offer to diners today.
This includes a wide range of choices ranging from the popular Huevos Rancheros; cooked to order burgers; salmon in season; Moules – Frites, a classic Belgian dish of mussels steamed in white wine; Grilled Fig and Chevre salad; pasta dishes with a twist, like the spaghetti and lemon pine nut meatballs. For the past seven years the Waffle Window has been integrated into the Bread and Ink serving up delicious Liege waffle and the popular southern waffles and chicken.
While traveling in Amsterdam, the couple’s sons, Max and Brendon, tasted delicious Belgium Liege waffles and immediately called their mom to tell her about them. O’Rourke’s passion as a pastry chef made her want to replicate these yeasted, pearl sugar waffles, relatively new to the United States. She ended up yielding a great product and before long, opened The Waffle Window on the westside of Bread and Ink Cafe, utilizing the already existing restaurant as a place where anyone wanting to sit and enjoy their food could. (Waffles can be ordered from the restaurant menu too.)
The waffle business now includes their sons and another The Waffle Window on NE Alberta St.
In case you are wondering, the name Bread and Ink Cafe was the result of Pattie Hill reading a nursery rhyme to her children that goes, “If all the world were paper, if all the seas were ink, if all the trees were bread and cheese what would we have for drink?” Somehow that made the leap to Bread and Ink Cafe.
“Over they years I’ve watched Hawthorne change, it has been an interesting progression. This has become a very vibrant place to own a business,” Fishback said.
A complete menu is available at breadandinkcafe.com