Breaking Bread

Tatler Singapore|May 2020

Breaking Bread
A deeper look at the emancipation of the dinner roll—and why some restaurants have supplanted the ordinary breadbasket selection with novel, delectable creations
Don Mendoza
Famously hailed as the most gratifying of all essential foods, good bread is hard to beat. It’s at the heart of every culture, from those humble slices of local Pullman loaf in Singapore’s favourite breakfast of kaya and butter on toast to the painstakingly made, naturally fermented sourdough that has come to define the tastes of countless millennials across the globe.

It’s also easy to see why our love affair with good bread remains but a flawed attempt to find the perfect one. Honestly, who’s to say what’s right when you’re in the mood for fluffy Hokkaido bread or even some fresh-out-of-the-tandoor Armenian lavash?

We can, however, affirm that even the quality variety of the once-trivialised dinner roll can have a profound effect on one’s perception of the overall dining experience. It’s the reason why the best restaurants take pride in being able to proffer an eclectic breadbasket selection that sets them apart from the rest.

At modern European establishments, these can range from crusty French baguettes, pillowy brioche and pain au lait, and buttery croissants, to more seasonal offers, such as cornbread and chestnut rolls. At top brass restaurants like Les Amis, for example, breads and pastries are baked twice daily for lunch and dinner—a toasty offering of up to a dozen varieties, no less.

BESPOKE BAKES

Suffice it to say, the bread course has outgrown its role as mere padding between courses. And while it is then easy to appreciate why the wheeling in of the bread trolley at the likes of Vianney Massot Restaurant never fails to incite a chorus of oohs and aahs, other restaurants do surprisingly well with a singular variety.

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May 2020