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Shirley Will Open in Somerville This Fall Featuring Naturally Leavened Breads

Kat Bayle’s farm-to-table pop-up is putting down roots at Bow Market, emphasizing local, seasonal cooking, baking, and fermentation

A thick piece of toast is spread with a pinkish fruit butter and cinnamon sugar. It’s sitting on a light background.
Cinnamon toast with fruit butter from Shirley.
Kat Bayle

A farm-to-table pop-up with a penchant for naturally leavened breads, fermentation, and all things seasonal will put down roots this fall: Shirley, formerly known as Blueberries for Sal, will open at Somerville’s Bow Market. It will debut on October 16, which founder Kat Bayle is calling a soft opening, featuring summer fruit cinnamon toast — thick slices of Shirley bread with summer raspberry butter and a Vermont maple sugar and cinnamon combination.

For about a year, Bayle, a Field & Vine alum, has been making appearances around town, doing collaborations and pop-ups at restaurants including Field & Vine, Bondir, Gray’s Hall, Koshari Mama, and more. In fact, Shirley will be taking over Koshari Mama’s Bow Market space as the vegan Egyptian restaurant moves into its own space down the street at 585 Somerville Ave., Somerville, where Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant closed in late 2020. (Koshari Mama’s “food is awesome and they are incredibly kind,” says Bayle of her frequent hosts.)

Bayle tells Eater that she gathers “ingredients and inspiration from the farmers and purveyors [she has] been working with since moving back to New England a few years ago, sharing their stories and incorporating [her] experience and style.” She has spent the last dozen years as a cook, chef, and bread baker (focusing on naturally leavened breads) in San Francisco as well as Slovenia and France. A Massachusetts native who moved to California at 19, she began working as a sous chef at Somerville’s Field & Vine when she moved back here.

Everything at Shirley’s Bow Market shop will be made in-house (like aioli, pickles, and bread) or sourced locally (like cheese from Bell & Goose and sausage from Short Creek Farm, both New Hampshire-based), so the offerings will change with the seasons, although versions of some staples will be available year-round, like grilled cheese and the aforementioned cinnamon toast being featured on opening day. “The butter will shift to a different fruit once my summer stash runs out,” says Bayle, so raspberry lovers should make sure to visit soon.

The fall menu could include dishes like maple roasted delicata squash rings with aioli and pickles; veggie soup (“for grilled cheese dipping and to eat on its own”); and soda made with seasonal ingredients. Customers will also be able to buy bread by the loaf or half loaf — or starter, complete with Bayle’s “bread love notes” (instructions and recipes), to do some baking at home.

Bow Market, located in Somerville’s Union Square, is a two-level marketplace with food, beverage, and retail vendors arranged around a central courtyard. While some of Bow Market’s restaurant spaces are permanent, this one — a small takeout-oriented storefront — is devoted to long-term pop-ups. Prior to Koshari Mama’s opening, bibimbap shop Perillas was the first inhabitant, signing a six-month lease and later extending for a year. (Perillas later returned to Bow Market, opening in one of its permanent spaces.) As such, Bayle is continuing her search for a place to open a sit-down restaurant, and she also plans to continue doing collaborations and ticketed coursed dinners hosted by other restaurants. “The style of these dinners and menus reflect the future Shirley sit-down restaurant,” she says.

Leading up to Shirley’s opening at Bow Market, Bayle will continue to serve a small vegan menu out of the Koshari Mama space on Tuesdays — dishes like potato flatbreads with red lentil dip and tabbouleh with watermelon and herbs. Keep an eye on Instagram for updates leading up to opening day.

Bow Market

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