The rise of artisan breads has launched a new enthusiasm for specialties that underscore a restaurant’s attention to detail. Here are a few ways that bread offerings can enhance your menu.
• Each day at La Pulperia in NYC, chef and head baker Martin Marino bakes five different breads in-house. Among them are the Figazza that serves as a bun for the restaurant’s grilled burgers. It’s a recipe that highlights the Northern Italian influence in Argentinian cuisine, with ingredients that include lard and malt powder for flavor and color. The Milanesa Sandwich—a combination of Latin-style country-fried steak with avocado-jalapeno aioli—is served on Pan de Campo Bread. The bread is thinner than brioche, with a little acidity and crunch, and assures that the sandwich is more meat than bread. Other varieties are Pan Negro (black bread), Campesino peasant bread and Chipa, a thin, gluten-free traditional bread from Paraguay. It is made with tapioca (cassava flour), fresh orange juice, water, cheese and coconut milk. Chipa is served with strawberry-jalapeno jam and foie gras mousse.
• Num Pang sandwich shop in NYC now offers quinoa bread as an alternative bread option. Quinoa bread is also the exclusive choice for all of its vegetarian sandwiches, including Roasted Cauliflower with Thai Eggplant Spread, and Spicy Tofu with Ginger Soy-Honey Glaze and Leeks.
• Monkey Bread French Toast is a signature item ($12 at the Austin, TX, location) on the breakfast menu at Punch Bowl Social. The dish features brioche bread with salted caramel and candied walnuts, and comes with bacon and an egg. Monkey Bread will also appear on chef Frank Mnuk’s menu at Geraldine’s, a Kimpton restaurant in Austin, when it opens this fall. Among the menu highlights are Green Garlic Monkey Bread with burrata.
• Chef Gregory Pugin of Palme d’Or in The Biltmore Hotel, Miami, offers a signature bread-pairing program. Breads are baked fresh daily in-house and presented as side dishes to accompany each course. The bread pairings—from soft textures to sharp flavors—are designed to enhance the ingredients of each dish. For example, a Potato and Dill Roll is paired with Salade Tiede de Pommes de Terre, with the dill enhancing the flavor of the salmon. Bourguignon Beef is paired with Red Wine Shallot Bread with a red wine flavor that matches the caramelized wine flavors of the beef.
• Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. has been providing each table with complimentary Toasted Garlic Bread with Gorgonzola Fondue. The item was formerly $10 on the appetizer menu. The restaurant also creates a specialty butter. House-made Avocado Leaf Butter capitalizes on the flavor Chef Cenobio Canalizo remembers from his childhood in Mexico. The condiment is made with dried, chopped avocado leaves, butter whipped with olive oil and heavy cream, then scooped into a mold made of sea salt. It is left to fuse and harden for five days.