H&F Bread Co.: Since sliced bread 

Linton Hopkins' newest venture in Buckhead

2008 has been a banner year for chef Linton Hopkins and crew. Hopkins scored a well-deserved James Beard Award nomination and his gastropub, Holeman & Finch Public House, has captured the hearts of diners and critics alike. And now, the Holeman gang has opened a bakery, H&F Bread Co. (2255-H Peachtree Road, 404-350-8877, www.hfbreadco.com).

At first, there were no plans to open a bakery. That was until Jenny Levison, of Souper Jenny, introduced Hopkins to baker Eli Kikov. After letting Kikov loose in his kitchen and tasting his wares, the business-savvy Hopkins jumped on the opportunity to partner with the skilled baker. H&F Bread Co. initially offered its goods at the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market, enabling it to gauge the response and tweak the recipes accordingly.

H&F Bread Co. is all about baking, with only a handful of complementary items such as homemade kumquat preserves. Breads run the gamut from nutty multigrain dinner rolls (75 cents) to soft challah ($5.50) to the craveable semolina sandwich bread ($5.50) that Hopkins says is "the bread that defines toast for me." There are loads of breakfast pastries ($2.75) such as a twisted chocolate Danish that looks like a rugelach on steroids, and dangerously delicious Danish topped with sweetened cheese and homemade strawberry preserves. There will also be a frozen section with premade pie crusts, real puff pastry and biscuits in the future. The croissants need work, but the bakery isn't brushing the crumbs under the rug – the chef pulled some almond croissants on a visit because they were not up to his standards.

H&F Bread Co. is providing customized bread to restaurants such as Cuerno, and its hamburger buns (the same one from the lauded H&F burger) to JCT Kitchen. "A very new perspective on business," according to Hopkins, but certainly fitting. Contributing to others' success just feels like the natural next step for such a locally minded and community-oriented chef.

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