Restaurant baking

I had a dinner last evening at an extremely flash Melbourne restaurant (recipient of 2 hats in the Good Food guide).

They served some bread with the meal including slices of a wholemeal sourdough. This latter loaf, though reasonably tasty had an enormous 'flying top', with the bottom third of the bread dense and cakey!

The standards of food preparation at this restaurant were extremely high, but it seems as though bread baking was relegated to someone with little experience of baking (or at least of sourdough). Furthermore to serve a loaf that is so manifestly poorly prepared demonstrates either a complete lask of appreciation of good bread on the part of the chefs, or a pretty poor view of the savviness of the customers.

Sourdough shouldn't be an excuse for sloppiness.

Is bread a second-class citizen in top-class restaurants?

Dom

(To be fair they also served a fennel and raisin loaf that was aromatic and very flavourful as well as being appropriately proved).


8 comments

I'm only new so i hope i don't step on any toes but leave the baking to the pros. chefs don't touch. some properly know what there doing but most wouldn't have a clue. bread has got to be the most under rated thing in resturants. we still get par bake rolls when you pay top $$$.

Mad

Mad

AND BILL44 RIGHT ON.


In my opinion the bread should be matched to the food, much in the same was as wine is.
So for fish and salad type of light eating I would go for a light textured crispy baguette style. For Italian or Greek I would prefer the open crusty rustic type of loaf. For general heavier main meal food or steak I would chose to serve small warm loaves of plain white not too open in the crumb and herbed wholemeal, both with a very good butter, to be cut at the table. With casual antipasto type of eating a selection of crusty white, heavy dark rye, and lighter carroway rye, maybe an olive/sundried tomato loaf.
I personally feel the multigrain type of loaf should be reserved for other purposes rather than accompany a restaurant meal.
This is just to my taste.

Oh BTW, when my wife and I eat bread with a meal we tend to be mediterranean in taste, that is bread only, no butter.

Hi all,
very interesting topic, we supply a number of restuarants in the Brisbane area, most of them are very serious about the quality of their bread. This is only a recent change though, after being in business for over 10 years we had been finding until recently that nearly all enquiries about wholesale bread started with how much for a white dinner roll, very frustrating let me tell you.
We now find that most of our inquiries are for Artisan Breads, mainly sourdough, ciabatta, turkish and the like, and we also do traditional butter danish pastries also wich are very popular.
This is a nice change and far more rewarding than in recent years, we have one chef in particular who cuts open a loaf from each delivery to assess its quality and believes in serving it with only the best cultured butter.
Hopefully this is a trend that will continue so that the bread served with the meal becomes part of the whole experience, not just a side dish, just as important as the wine you would choose perhaps.

Idea

The next part of this equation is getting the bakers in the industry to accept and understand Artisan Breads like they have their normal breads, to think outside the "Square" so to speak so as to provide a better selection of products to the restuarant industry, this is the greater challenge.

I don't believe they understand the amount of people out there like everyone on this forum, who not only enjoy making good quality Artisan Breads at home, but like to experience the same when they dine out, but are often disappointed at the lack of availability of great bread when doing so, particularly bread with flavour.

Sad

Would appreciate any thoughts you guys have on what you would like to see when you go to restuarants in the way of breads, maybe we can start something new.

Regards,

slowdough

"Lifes Short, Bake Hard"

As you suggest Jack, it is not surprising that bread in restaurants is sometimes substandard.
I can't remember ever reading a restaurant review that discussed in any detail the quality of the bread.
The thing that offended me about the restaurant in question was that a. it was a very highly rated (and expensive) restaurant and should have known better, and b. it presented a 'wholemeal sourdough' bread as if this was a great virtue in itself, when the bread in question should not have seen the light of day.

Last weekend I ate at a different, but newly opened Melbourne restaurant (the new Paul Mathis venture SOS). Their bread included slices of a simple white sourdough (nice open texture, well proved) and a great light rye, presented without fanfare, available as required. Now that's more like it.

cheers
Dom


At least here in the UK not many restaurants can afford to employ a seperate night baker and set up a full bakery with proofers and retarder and a decent bread oven, so baking bread falls to the patissier, who is likely not trained as a baker, and has many other things to do. Thus bread (unless it can be bought in) takes second place, alas.

Besides what the customers often want is familiar spongy white rolls and maybe some fancy flavours/shapes for spectacle (olive/dried tomato/onion/dark rye) and to go with cheese. Restaurants don't get kudos with public and critics for a faultless plain house made sourdough.

The exception is wher bread is made a feature, such as St Johns Bread and Wine, where bread and viennoise are also sold retail

[quote="jacklang"]
At least here in the UK not many restaurants can afford to employ a seperate night baker and set up a full bakery with proofers and retarder and a decent bread oven, so baking bread falls to the patissier, who is likely not trained as a baker, and has many other things to do. Thus bread (unless it can be bought in) takes second place, alas.

Besides what the customers often want is familiar spongy white rolls and maybe some fancy flavours/shapes for spectacle (olive/dried tomato/onion/dark rye) and to go with cheese. Restaurants don't get kudos with public and critics for a faultless plain house made sourdough.

The exception is wherw bread is made a feature, such as Ottolenghi or St Johns Bread and Wine in London, where bread and viennoise are also sold retail
[/quote]

Dom, Many years back I used to work for a fancy classy restaurant near Lygon/ Carlton area in Melbourne and I experienced the same situation...
They ordered me to prepare a sourdough baguette (using their recipe) with over fermented yeast dough as a starter leaven.....
And the chef was perfectly happy with it!

Razz

Its common in many restaurants there having lousy breads...thinking that making a good bread is just like whipping up a spaghetti dish and it can be done in a jiffy

Surprised

Razz

...They often use lots of yeast to prop it up

Smile

and during thoes times they never heard about real levain culture.

Surprised

For them
As long as it looks like bread the want then its good,,,,

Sad

as its made in their premises and not from elsewhere.

Smile

Hi Dom,
Yes here too we have shit they call bread at restos! I suppose humans forget where it all began and go here and there for trends, as for semolina and raisin, I ought to send a copy to the forum of one of New Yorks finest baker, Amy Scherber;whom I tried making her signature raisin, fennel bread! And interviewed on my site to!
[img]http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y85/jergra/7a3f8919.jpg[/img]

cheers,
jeremy