... which really surprises me.
I was prepared to dismiss it as a franchise. The latest one opened up near Berkeley, Calif. Even in Berkeley which has an embarrassment of riches as far as artisan bread, House of Bread has a place.
It makes bread on site. It also grinds the flour daily at each bakery. The website says:
Just as fresh ground coffee tastes better, so does freshly milled flour
The old shops are converting to 100% organic oats, grains and flours. I believe this new shop is 100% organic, or has quite a few organic breads.
In addition to their breads, they will make other breads on request.
House of Bread will slice any loaf on request except those that would make the slicer sticky, like the iced lemon bread.
This is a big appeal to me. The bread is baked fresh daily, organic and, unlike a lot of the artisan bakeries in this area, they will run the bread through a slicer.
Sometimes you just want a slice of bread to make a sandwich. You dont want to saw through those hard artisan crusts, producing uneven, thick slices of bread two slices of good, uniformly slice bread theres a reason for that expression the greatest thing since sliced bread.
This means I dont have to settle for supermarket bread when I just want to make a normal sandwich or buy a bread slicer which I have no room to keep.
HOB is super generous with their samples. At least at the store I visited, they had samples of every bread and baked good in the shop. They didnt blink giving out generous pieces of everything. In fact they encouraged trying everything. I had to sit at a table to sample my stash of nine samples.
Heres what I tried today:
Garlic Cheddar White (daily)
Basil Parmesan (daily)
The cheese breads are my favorites so far. There are nice swirls of cheese in a French type of loaf. I bought the Basil Parmesan which had a nice pesto swirled with the cheese. Excellent toasted where the cheese slightly melts. This should add interest to sandwiches. Im thinking tuna salad would be really good.
Scones very nice crumbly, yet moist with a coating of sugar and filled with nuts and dried fruit. In my area, as good as Cheeseboard scones.
Apple cinnamon swirl (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat). Nice sticky loaf with apples. (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat)
Lemon bread - (Tues & Fri) Id move this bread higher up except that I was told they forgot to put the butter in the bread (first time baking it). Usually it is richer. Even so, it was very good, more like a lemon-flavored bread rather than a cake.
Challah (Fri) A little too white-bread for me. Not what Im looking for in a challah
Raspberry Swirl (Wed & Fri) A nice change from cinnamon swirl.
9-Grain (Mon, Wed, Fri)
Dakota (Mon & Fri)
Good whole grain breads. However, in my area The Bread Garden does a better version, so I probably would buy these types of bread there.
The Albany bakery has a few breads not listed on the website:
Banana Nut Bread (Wed & Sun)
California Brown ( Mon & Thurs)
Cracked Wheat (Thur & Sat)
Jalapeño Jack (Tues)
Sure it doesnt match the top bread bakers. However, it is nice to have a fresher, better quality bread than is available at my local supermarket.