Staring at the menu, I kept saying, “This can’t be 100% vegan – there is no way”! Yet, staring right back at me, in bold letters, was Breads on Oak’s disclaimer – “All items are vegan.”
In preparation for a trip to New Orleans, I researched this family-owned, plant-based artisan bakery. The chief baker and co-owner of the beloved vegan sanctuary is Sean O’Mahony. Mr. Mahony studied at the French Pastry School in Chicago, falling in love with the fine art of pastry. He also happened to fall in love with New Orleans native, Charmain. Combining Charmain’s passion for the environment, animal welfare, and New Orleans with Sean’s pastry skills, the magic of Breads on Oak was created.
Excited to check out this plant-lovers hotspot, I convinced my husband to step away from work commitments for one morning and accompany me for breakfast.
Upon arriving at the Mahony’s pastry haven, framed by large windows and blue shutters, we were greeted by a long row of cases filled with sandwiches, brownies, quiches, brioche buns, scones, cookies, bread, and cakes. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Instantly, I wanted to start ordering everything, but my much more responsible husband suggested we start with coffee and thoughtfully review the menu.
After studying the menu and speaking with the ever so knowledgeable barista, my husband decided on a breakfast sandwich composed of egg scramble, sausage patty, and bechamel sauce. I filled out our order with a few items I thought we could “share”.
Known for their brioche, it was a must to order one of the scrumptious options available including strawberry, Boston cream, vanilla, almond, and maple. I decided to stray from my usual go-to favorites and settled on the stuffed almond brioche.
I rounded out my order with an orange cranberry Irish tea biscuit and lastly, snuck in a vegetable quiche. My steadfast love of quiche wouldn’t let me pass-up the colorful, veggie-packed breakfast classic.
While I eagerly dug into my quiche, my methodical husband proceeded to enjoy his breakfast sandwich in stages. When enjoying a new dish, he tends to taste each item on its own before going in for the ultimate bite. This particular morning, he was busy enjoying the egg scramble so much I had to remind him to save some for the final “perfect bite” – the perfect bite incorporates all elements of the dish. His overall was as follows: the biscuit was flakey, the bechamel creamy, the sausage spicy, the egg fluffy; altogether, perfection.
As for, the quiche, the texture was perfect – not too dense, mushy, or dry. While packed with vegetables, the most predominant was broccoli. The taste, in a way, reminded me of my mom’s homemade cheese and broccoli soup – delicious. I asked the staff at Breads on Oak how they were able to create a tofu egg scramble and quiche that resembled eggs in both look and taste. Their secret to success is in the use of sulfuric rock. Swirling the rock around with the tofu transfers the “eggy” sent sulfur is famous for and infuses the tofu with a yellow color.
Unfortunately, even with help from my husband, we could not finish the plate. The quiche serving was notably generous, and our stomachs were starting to feel space restricted. It was time to move on to the Irish tea biscuit. My husband is not a vast carb consumer, so he opted out of tasting the Irish staple and instead, save his remaining carb intake for a morsel of the brioche.
Biting into the classic tea-time favorite, I would have preferred it to be warm, topped with a dollop of vegan butter or jam, as tea biscuits tend to be dry and crumbly. That said, there were plenty of cranberries that added positively to the texture. As for the orange flavor, it was faint. To complement the tart cranberries, an intensified infusion of orange would have leveled up the experience. Overall, I would order the biscuit again, but not before trying the cinnamon buns and cookies.
Finally, it was time to dig into the gooey almond brioche. Simply licking the icing off my fingers filled me with delight. My husband, who doesn’t share my love of sweets with the same intensity, was pleasantly surprised by the pastry. I say pleasantly surprised because his assumption was the almond paste slathered atop and generously located in the middle was going to be overly sweet. Instead, it had just a hint of sweetness and a slightly grainy, crunchy texture, thanks to the ground almonds. The combination of soft dough and slightly sticky sweet icing made it undoubtedly obvious why this charming bakery was renowned for its selection of brioche.
With our stomachs truly stuffed we, unfortunately, had to call an end to our food party. Determined to keep the fun going, we opted for a stroll down Oak street and a ride on the South Carrollton Avenue streetcar. Now, I should preface the use of “stroll.” At mid-morning, during the week, Oak Street was empty and felt a bit sketchy. If my husband hadn’t been with me, I would have opted for a Lyft ride home. That said, next to the brioche, the ride on the streetcar was my favorite part of the day.
As the trolley glided along the tracks, it was difficult to drink in all the beauty. Surrounded by stunning historic homes, adorned by equally gorgeous gardens, each gaze out the window seemed to take my breath away. If you love history or architecture or simply enjoy beautiful things, I would highly recommend this scenic experience.