At the end of 2008, our trend-spotting restaurant editor, Kate Krader, broke my bread-loving heart when she predicted the extinction of free bread service. So I have to applaud Curtis Duffy, the visionary young chef who recently took over the kitchen at Avenues in the Peninsula Chicago. Bread isn’t just free at Avenues, it’s thoughtfully paired with each course as if it were wine. Curtis takes an egalitarian approach to each dish, so much so that no one element—not even the bread—is ever overshadowed.

The bread, like the rest of the Avenues menu, changes seasonally, and just like the food, it is highly creative, surprising and delicious. My most carb-fearing girlfriends would be hard-pressed to resist the coconut-basil waffle or the mint-infused English muffin. I shamelessly admit that I was so obsessed with the bread that I turned into a bread voyeur when I returned to New York, obsessively checking Curtis’s blog to see what baked masterpieces I was missing out on, like the savory cake-doughnut he is currently conceptualizing for his next menu.

If you can’t make the trip to Chicago for a meal, you can read about the philosophy behind the bread service and be tempted by the gorgeous food photos that Curtis posts on his blog.