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Baguettes on the banquette 

  Chamain and Sean O'Mahony opened their Breads on Oak (8640 Oak St., 669-5173; in early July, and though the bakery currently is only open Fridays and Saturdays, the quality of the first few loaves and pastries I've sampled here augurs good things to come.

  The changing daily bounty the couple puts in the shop's display counter and bread racks borrows from different European baking traditions. There are classic baguettes and buttery croissants, round country loaves with olives or cheese, Irish soda bread, strawberry and apple-fig bran muffins and cinnamon-walnut coffee cakes. There also is a wide range of vegan muffins, cookies and other dairy-free baked goods produced by Chamain, who is a vegan.

  "My first job when I got out of the Marines was working at a French bakery," says Sean, an Atlanta native who has lived in New Orleans since 1995. "The hours were brutal, the work was tough, but at the end of the day you'd made all of this delicious food that people love, and that really appealed to me."

  He later became a corporate consultant, which entailed a great deal of traveling, and when it was time to shift gears and start a new career, the baking arts called to him again.

  "At one time, this was the place you'd go for the best breads, New Orleans, but somehow it all devolved into po-boy bread," he says. " So I want to help bring some of these things back."

  Breads on Oak serves coffee drinks and tea as well. The bakery's potential capacity is evident in its size, and Sean says Breads on Oak is set up for daily restaurant supply business as well as its current two-day-a-week retail schedule.

  Breads on Oak is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, but the O'Mahonys plan to expand their hours soon.


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