Hey, we actually left the bubble last weekend! Our roadtrip to The Thumb took us through Detroit with hopes of some Kansas City style brunch at Slow's Bar-B-Q over in Corktown. If you have a similar hankering for ribs on a weekend morning, know this - Slow's doesn't open until noon on Sunday!
Luckily, Avalon Bakery is just a couple of miles away at 422 Willis between 2nd Ave. and Cass, in a gentrifying neighborhood just behind Wayne State. And it's also a great place to stop.
I love Avalon's baguettes, which I buy regularly at the People's Food Co-op (which Jen just wrote about). But not so many of Avalon's other breads seem to be available west of the giant Uniroyal Tire on I-94.
So it's incredible to go to the bakery, a former industrial space, and see all the amazing stuff they have - a huge variety of breads, but also pastries and eggy brunch and lunch-y pizza things too. Among my favorites: brioche, anything with spinach, and a great Pain au Noix (almost like Poilane!). Avalon is also the only place outside of Royal Oak where you can buy a selection of Rich Wieske's excellent Wild Detroit (and other Michigan) honeys.
Owners Jackie Victor and Ann Perrault have created this space and this business as their stake in the ground toward a New Detroit. Like Detroit's increasingly visible Garden Resource Collaborative Program, Avalon is an example of the cutting edge creativity in Motown. It's also an example of how, when a major urban area shrinks and corporate extraction of profit declines, we might still find redemption in communities that form around food and agriculture. Especially in this great agricultural state. An article from last year talks about some of Avalon's growing pains and sense of competition with the Big Z, while also noting of Avalon, that (like the Big Z):
"They feed the homeless, recycle, and hire workers from the neighborhood. They pay a living wage - managers typically make $40,000 a year - and Avalon's health benefits rival those of corporate employers. They practice open-book management, a technique that gives employees access to Avalon's financials. And they have been wildly successful."
Avalon's motto (photographed with gracious permission from the young man in the orange shirt): "Eat Well. Do Good." That's what Wendell Berry would do.
Avalon doesn't seem to have its own website, and none of the referring sites I found show their updated hours (i.e. that they are actually open on Sundays). My advice would be to call first - especially on Sunday and Monday.
Avalon International Breads
422 W Willis St
Detroit, MI 48201