About a half a block from the Croatian Cultural Center, at 2812 West Devon, is Argo, Inc. Georgian Bakery. I first visited Argo in 1999, when my mom and I entered for a post-Indian meal sweet pastry and somehow walked out with three huge rounds of freshly-baked Georgian bread. I remembered the bakery very fondly for several reasonshow the very friendly owner was a doctor who had recently come to the United States, the story of how the large brick, igloo-shaped oven predominantly resting in the middle of the bakery works, and the good texture/flavor of the breadbut somehow just never returned, mostly due to a lack of geographical skills in navigating the miracle that is Devon Avenue.
On Sunday, while walking alongst Devon with my boyfriend and taking shelter from the random sprinkles beneath various awnings, refuge was sought at a Georgian bakery and, what do you know, it was Argo. It looked significantly different from the bare room save for the brick oven and the counter that adorned the bakery years ago. The windows advertised Coffee, Sandwiches and Georgian Specialties, but we were promptly drawn to the glass-fronted case directly inside the door housing a selection of pastries. My boyfriend ordered the farmer cheese pastry and I, the apple pie. The owner clarified with my boyfriend that the cheese pastry he had requested was the sweet pastry, perhaps to distinguish from the hachapuri that was also available, using the same dough as the sweet cheese pastry. Also in the front case were filo-wrapped cabbage and potato pies, and a variety of other items which were housed in the glass-fronted refrigerator behind the counter, including filo-wrapped chicken pies, a variety of caviars in various jewel tones and packaging, as well as other Black Sea coastal specialties which I could neither distinguish nor decipher very well, and a variety of unmarked, unbaked pastries which presumably can be baked at home.
The farmer cheese pastry was really quite speciala very flaky, slightly chewy and golden brown rectangular pastry crust encompassing two types of farmer cheeseone which seemed to be sweetened with honey and a second cheese, which was encountered several bites into the pastry, which was perhaps unsweetenedand studded with golden raisins. The filling was quite warm and somehow the temperature intensified the flavor and fluffy texture of the filling. The apple pie was finenothing particularly special, but the pastry and filling were both of good quality. The apple pie may have suffered further from comparison to the cheese pastry.
We also managed to leave with a round loaf of Georgian bread after asked whether or not we would like some bread, which may explain how my mom and I entered for a pastry and walked out with three loaves of bread the last time I visited. Two shapes of Georgian bread are available, long narrow loaves and large round loaves, both of which are relatively thin, approximately two to two and a half inches. The bottoms of the loaves are solid and marked with ashes from the oven, and the overall crust is a great, crusty-chewy consistancy surrounding an almost floral-tasting ciabatta-type center that is (thankfully) highly-conducive to post-root canal consumption.
The price for the farmer cheese pastry, the apple pie and the huge round loaf of Georgian bread totalled $3.50.
Argo, Inc. Georgian Bakery
2812 West Devon Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60659
Telephone: (773) 764-6322
Open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily,
except Sunday (closes at 5:00 p.m.)
(by the way, should you be alongst Devon in these mango-plentiful weeks of June, for the sake of all that is good and right in this world, please do NOT switch the mangos.)