Glimpse: Polebridge Mercantile

  • It's a long ride down a bumpy dirt road to Polebridge Mercantile, but it's worth it.

The bakery at Polebridge Mercantile is legendary. More than one person we met on the road, hearing we were headed to Montana, said with reverence, “You have to go to Polebridge. People wait in line for the bear claws to come out of the oven.” The Mercantile is more than 100 years old, built in 1914, just outside Glacier National Park. It’s a way station for travelers, rafters, and other intelligentsia looking for food, drink, merriment and fresh-baked sweets. The website describes founder William L. “Bill” Adair this way: “He fished, using only one fly (the Coachman), and drank and grew king-sized cabbages while his wife (and later, after she died, a second wife) ran the store and lived in their homestead cabin, which is now the Northern Lights Saloon.” The bakery was started in 1994, and continues to follow the recipes Dan Kaufman, a third-generation baker from Idaho who owned the Merc for 15 years. The afternoon we visited, bear claws were going in and out of the oven, along with gluten-free pineapple-coconut bars. Yum.

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