Restaurateurs may have once taken bread for granted, but no more. They’ve discovered that bread, as humble and relatively inexpensive as it may be, can be a powerful menu differentiator. Proof: Eight out of 10 consumers say the quality of the bread is key to creating a great sandwich. Operators are paying new attention to artisan preparations, health issues, and opportunities to surprise and please consumers with new bread varieties, flavors and textures. Let’s look at a few key trends.
1. Artisan breads
“Artisan,” like “natural” or “homestyle,” is one of those menu terms that doesn’t have a technical definition — yet everyone has a general idea of what it promises. An artisan bread has an open cell structure, thick crust, intense flavor and chewy texture — and no two loaves look exactly alike. Café Express, for instance, just rolled out a line of breakfast sandwiches on a variety of artisanal breads such as brioche, ciabatta and croissants.
Almost a flatbread, Italian-style focaccia is a large, flat round of bread brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and perhaps spiked with rosemary. California Pizza Kitchen recently added herbed cheese focaccia served with Mediterranean olive oil and Parmesan, and Souplantation Express offers garlic Asiago focaccia.
The Italian word for “slipper” fittingly describes a long, wide loaf with a soft interior and a thin, crisp crust. Ciabatta turns ordinary sandwiches into something special. Ninety-Nine Restaurants, for instance, recently introduced a line of ciabatta sandwiches, including Roast Beef & Asiago. Ciabatta bread is often used for sandwiches that are grilled in a panini press, such as the new Turkey, Artichoke and Mozz panini at Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery.
– Article by US Foods