In life, first impressions can be everything, and for many restaurants that first impression is the humble bread basket. This complimentary starter can tell you a lot about a restaurant; the type of flour used may indicate a certain food philosophy, while the way the condiments are elevated reflect a chef’s training.
Though the simplicity of the bread basket is overlooked in some cases, in others it can actually be one of the most memorable parts of the meal. I can instantly think of five restaurants where that holds true.
First off, any restaurant that gives me an entire LOAF of bread to myself is one I’m on board with. This crispy, airy, freshly baked potato bread slathered with lemon and chive butter is everything and more. I’d be lying if I said I only had one during my first visit here.
This bread basket had the city buzzing for a while. It includes Italian staples like focaccia and a life-changing stromboli. The three condiments of mascarpone butter, citrus infused olive oil, and eggplant caponata, take this basket to another level. Cut back on some appetizers to make room for more bread.
#SpoonTip: Though Scott Conant has split with New York’s Scarpetta, he still works with the outposts in Los Angeles, Vegas, and Miami. I’ve dined at both Scarpetta LA and NYC, and definitely saw a discrepancy between the two, due to his absence.
Chef Amanda Cohen’s vegetarian haven serves up a riff on monkey bread. Presented in a flower pot and with a side of garlic butter, the bread is warm, sweet, spongy, and a great way to kick off your veg-centric dinner. The downside? Only one per table.
Team Torrisi’s flatbread with fromage blanc is a party in your mouth. Chewy and crisp, this herbaceous Moroccan style bread is really all you need to begin your meal. Skip your appetizers completely.
The Batali and Bastianich crew continues to dominate with perhaps the mother of all bread baskets. The sides of savory lardo are the stars among the loaves of olive ciabatta and focaccia for days.