Even the freight elevator smells like chocolate. Walking the halls of the massive Dogpatch warehouse that holds commissary kitchens for some notable food artisans—including longtime tenant Michael Recchiuti, Christina Besher (of Kika’s Treats), and Leadbetters Bake Shop—is a bit like making a visit to Mr. Wonka’s factory.
The latest addition to the building is William Werner’s Tell Tale Preserve Co., which has settled in nicely to the light-filled digs. Werner, a pastry chef who has worked at Quince, Spruce, and the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, has equipped the space with an enviable collection of kitchen equipment, from state-of-the-art ovens and gleaming copper pots to an enormous stockpile of adorable German-made Weck canning jars. Here, Werner and his team of three are turning out an impressive array of baked goods, both sweet and savory, ranging from Valrhona chocolate marshmallows and almondy financiers to flaky pumpkin-filled turnovers.
As the company name suggests, Werner also makes unusual preserves, including a jam of black fig, chocolate, and sangria and a second one made with eggplant. For now, all the goods are available only at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (both Tuesdays and Saturdays), at Sightglass Coffee, and in Society Bags: burlap sacks full of treats, available with a monthly subscription, a sort of CSA box of prepared goods. Later this month, hopefully in time for Valentine’s Day, Werner’s retail store will debut on Maiden Lane in Union Square and serve the full product line—delicate croissants, sugar-dusted brioche buns filled with custard, composed salads and sandwiches, as well as whole cakes and candies. Werner plans on a bipartisan coffee program, using a rotating supply of top-tier beans from local roasters. He’s also intent on serving European-style drinking chocolate and drinks made of warm salted butter caramel (four words that should always go together).
In a town that’s often dogmatic about rusticity, especially where food is concerned, Werner is modeling his enterprise after refined European patisseries, melding his classic technique with the best product available. That you may not know what to expect from blueberry-green tea nougat or a café au lait spread (it tastes like the uptown cousin of dulce de leche) is all part of the plan. Welcome to an old-fashioned bakeshop for modern times.