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Best bread and butter basket?

Call me a glutton but the best part of dining out is the delicious warm rolls and softened butter basket served while anticipating for my meal to arrive, Nothing opens up my appetite more than a well done bread basket! Off the top of my head I've enjoyed Blue ribbon, Park avenue cafe, and Bouley for example. Basically, bread so good you don't feel guilty ruining your appetite.

My question is where are some of the finest bread baskets in NYC? It needs not to be baked in-house but it definitely needs to be fresh, crusty, delicate, and with a nice assorted selection. The butter: softened. Olive oils and olives are a huge plus!

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  1. We must be the same person. Bread baskets can easily make or break the meal for me and, just as you said, bread needs to be warm, crusty, fresh, and delicate with SOFT butter. Yes, olive oil is also important. If I start choking, it's darn, good oil!

    Actually, French Roast has great bread served warm but no oil nor assortment. Plum Pomidoro does as well but it's not served hot and there's no assortment. Olive oil at Plum is amazing. These are the two quick places that pop into my mind only b\c they are close to home and frequented the most. I realize these are the most least likely places and in a completely different league than the ones you've mentioned but I've encountered many pitiful bread baskets in some high end, wonderful places.

    However, let's see what I can remember when I am more lucid later today. Oh, Cafe Ronda is worth trying and Le Meridien which has a hot, assortment of home-baked bread. I recently had a fantastic bread basket at a place in Nassau County called Umberto's that has everything you just described but I'll limit comments to places in Manhattan.

    Thanks for the great post. Curious to see what the others say.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nativeNYer

      "I realize these are the most least likely places and in a completely different league than the ones you've mentioned but I've encountered many pitiful bread baskets in some high end, wonderful places."

      Nothing turns me off more than when I have to exert muscles and elbow grease into the butter dish with my butter knife. I popped a vein in Eleven Madison Park trying to
      scratch into the frozen butter dish. Definitely not sexy. But yes, I've enjoyed small cafes with smaller budgets versus high end establishments.

    2. Not a traditional bread basket, but I'll vote for Taboon. It's basically an appetizer in itself with great tzatiki for dipping - worth every penny and then some. Hot out of the oven, crusty outside, moist inside, salty...worth the trip alone.

        1. Olives at the W serves hunks of warm onion focaccia with two scoops of tapenade - one green and one black - in a pool of olive oil. We've had to ask our server NOT to send it to the table because it's too good and we end up devouring the whole basket.

          1. The gruyere popovers at BLT Steak and BLT Prime. Doesn't really fit your criteria but they are fantastic.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ESNY

              A hearty second on these - they are ridiculously good. Even better with butter and sprinkled with a pinch of their coarse salt.

              1. re: shortstop

                To add...BLT fish serves warm melt-in-your-mouth cheddar and chive buiscuits with maple butter. I usually end up not eating much fish there!

                1. re: hanabanana

                  They have sort of a light seseme galric/herb/cheese loaf at the fish shack.

                  not bad.

            2. Umm, the warm basket of bread sick type roles at Blue Hill, a lot like the yummy bread stick type rolls at Jojo.

              For nontraditional, I still remember the Indian bread at Tabla, and I haven't been in years. (Gotta get to the Bread Bar one of these days)

              1. Bouley--a whole bread cart

                1. Enoteca at Del Posto (assuming it is the same in the main space as well)... great variety, all styles done well and the soft butter/lardo option was perfect (I could not stop using the lardo). That $45 tasting, with bread basket, is great value for dollar, imo.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Abe Froman

                    I'll second the Del Posto rec....mmmm.... lard-i-licious.

                    1. re: danoots

                      Del Posto all the way. The lard was scary at first, but just pretend its butter. The bread is amazing.

                  2. Quality Meats sends out a delicious buttery iron skillet thing of fresh baked rolls. They are SO buttery, warm and delicious. Fluffy and moist on the inside, crisp and (again) buttery on the outside... maybe a hint of rosemary? I think there are 4 per dish/pan/skillet.

                    1. I still remember the delicious breads I had at Alto. I'm not normally a big bread person, but the pretzel rolls and olive oil were amazing here.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: JungMann

                        I second Del Posto. Great assortment of breads, along with that Lardo.

                        1. re: clashfan

                          I add a nod to Del Posto, particularly the little foccacia rolls, as well as the aforementoned Blue Ribbon Bakery, particularly their raisin nut bread and challah. BUT Craftsteak, which has virtually NOTHING going for it in any other way, serves the most amazing Parker House rolls in a wonderful little pan and you MUST ask for seconds; mostly because it will be the best thing you eat all night...

                        2. re: JungMann

                          Funny you mention Alto, I went there two years ago, and it was the first place that popped into my head when I read the post. Their bread was to die for.

                        3. I would say the best would be Bouley, but Daniel comes in at a close second. Not the same breadth of selection as Bouley but about 5 to choose from. L'Atelier de Joel Roubuchon also rocks as well. In terms of butter, Per Se and Bouchon Bakery has the best butter I've ever tasted.

                          1. Really not sure what I would say is best but this is a great Topic choice! Although it's definitely not the BEST I've ever had, Mesa Grill's jalapeno corn bread is to die for. Warm with a little butter melting on it....mmmmmmm.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: lfjacob

                              Mesa Grill wins for best basket of sweet breads/little pastries at brunch too. Too bad the rest of the brunch food is just good (not great) and overpriced....

                              1. re: josephsm

                                I one of those that could live on bread alone. I too am a fan of Mesa Grill's bread basket and the variety of breads. I could make a meal out of that basket alone.

                                1. re: synergy

                                  I love the Mesa Grill breadbasket, too, especially the blue corn muffins. I have to force myself to notice that they're actually really quite buttery in order to NOT eat all of them and ask for more!

                                2. re: josephsm

                                  Better than, say, the Cafe at Country, Balthazar/Pastis, Five Points, Cookshop, and Ouest?

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    cafe @ country at least for brunch when i was there 2 months ago had a small bread basket that you had to pay for......never again

                                    1. re: ekdd

                                      Most of the brunch places with a good bread and pastries basket you have to pay for! All of the places that I listed charge for it...

                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        For me there is certainly a huge distinction between a bread basket you have to pay for ( cafe @ country for 12$!!) vs others. Pastries are almost always separate charge and listing so that is another story. The bread basket at brunch at Mesa Grill and at dinner at del Posto are both our favorites btw

                              2. Max in the EV has a great tomato/lemon zest/olive-y/olive oily spread that is aromatic, salty, citrus-y and delicious. I don't know if it's my imagination, but the spread just doesn't taste as good, or have as much complexity, at Max SoHa.

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: rose water

                                    Agreed about the Max oil-- so good!

                                    1. re: rose water

                                      I went to max tribeca and I found that bread dip to be really strange; a perfectly good pool of olive oil, but then this tasteless bland mound of what looked like thousand island dressing in the middle; looked outstanding but seriously underwhelmed upon dipping in; we asked for plain olive oil instead and simply salted it for a much better dip.

                                    2. I love the bread at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. They don't come in bread basket but rather the server serves you one by one. Rumors were that they have a secret recipe for their bread and so it was different from what you get normally. Butter was ok, nothing special.

                                      I have to agree with all the hounds who suggested Del Posto. The variety of the bread is much better than other fine-dining restaurants. The lardo has me hooked.

                                      The bread and olive oil at A Voce is pretty good as well.

                                      (I also had the same frozen butter experience at EMP, though it was during RW, so I am willing to give them a second chance ;D)

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                        I had it on a regular night. After a couple of tries I simply gave up because although I've managed to wrestle a piece of butter from the dish, it was just too much work to spread onto the roll (which was cold).

                                        1. re: kobetobiko

                                          what do people think about bread being served one by one? i think it is ridiculous.

                                          1. re: nativeNYer

                                            Omg, we MUST be the same person! It sends the 'cheap' alert off. I had dinner at Lure Fishbar last night and right after we placed our order, they sent us warmed brioche rolls for one per diner with softened butter piped into a star. I like brioches but it was too rich and dense/chewy, something saved for breakfast. During dinner time i would've preferred a bread with a nice crust and light crumb. But it was just one and nomore was offered to the table.

                                            Tribeca grill sends it out one by one. Only problem was he appeared once and never came back.

                                          2. re: kobetobiko

                                            The bread at L'Atelier is awesome, probably my favorite bread basket in the city. Well, they let you choose and it's not a basket, but they're amazing. The kind of rolls you actually want to stick in your purse to take home for breakfast ;) But I wouldn't do that...

                                          3. The basket at Takashimaya Tea Box Cafe on 5th and 54th. (only open for lunch). Also, oddly enough, at La Bonne Soupe in midtown - put some butter on the bread and then dip it into your house salad dressing. Holy cow, I eat way too much every time I go.

                                            1. Don't know if they're still putting it out now that John Fraser is gone, but Compass had the best bread basket I've had almost anywhere. At least three different kinds of rolls every time and all more delicious than the last.

                                              1. I'll tell you where NOT to get it; at Falai. Despite the pedigree and what you might think, the choices of bread available there (with a small tabletop menu no less) were really mediocre; the foccacine were stale, the black cabbage bread was tough, the rosemary raisin bread was very thick, the onion twist was also stale; and these were breads that our server would occasionally bring out on trays, giving us individual breads. I think scale is the issue; the ratios are not right between bread and crust, resulting in chewy (not in a good way) bread.

                                                and I assume you mean gratis bread baskets; otherwise, I'd definitely add momofuku ssam bar's bread and butter menu selection; delicious artisanal butters and a great crusty baguette that you could ask for more of. great stuff!

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                  Great call on the momofuku bread! I have heard that you can "refill" the bread for free! (but have never tried to ask for another helping since I always need some space for other great food!)

                                                  1. re: kobetobiko

                                                    yep, we asked for one more, but we couldn't even finish it because the rest of what we ordered was so delicious. good to mop up various sauces with tho (with of course a little bit of that butter as a "base"!)

                                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                                      I've refilled on the bread a number of times; the last time, I had a ravenous friend plus a large party, so I think we ended up with 4 of those rolls. Sullivan Street Bakery, too, so they're not cheap.

                                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                                        Momofuku has great bread and butter, despite it costing $8. Last time I went my friend and I didn't want to spend much money so we ordered one appetizer and bread, and they refilled it for us three times (enough to use up their crazy goat butter!). If she had eaten pork I would've ordered some country ham though. I've been dreaming of that lunch.

                                                      2. re: bigjeff

                                                        Funny - I was going to say the bread at Falai was the best part of my experience there. I had one of the worst restaurant experiences there (not as much the food, but the service was a joke), and the only positive part of my trip was the constant and diverse bread supply.

                                                        1. re: zoeterry

                                                          service was . . solicitous, is that the word? and the grilled octopus I had was probably the best octopus ever but the bread we had, in a serious way, I just didn't like. we must've gotten bad batch after batch, and it just made it worse what with the bread menu on each table.

                                                      3. Try Tintol. Really good olive bread with olive oil for dipping.

                                                        1. I just want to thank all of you for your suggestions. I guess my next list would be establishments to avoid if your a bread lover. I kid.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: DarthEater

                                                            Well, if you don't like getting rolls, ONE AT A TIME, then don't go to B Smith's...The rolls are delicious, but why does one have to continually ask for each additional one? It is cheap, cheap, cheap!!! There is a very highly touted restaurant in Dallas, Stephen Pyles, and they bring you this mini corn muffin, that I suppose is an "amuse bouche", but it is incredibly delicious, and when you ask for more, you sense a "look"...Maybe they do not want you to fill up before the actual meal begins, but hey, some of us think that the bread is a highlight!

                                                          2. Folks, pardon the interruption, but we have removed some off topic discussions about people's personal preferences in bread baskets and butter etc. that neither discuss where to find great bread baskets in Manhattan, nor ask where to find such places that suit said personal preferences. Please keep the focus here on your opinions about bread baskets in Manhattan. If you are interested in discussing what you think generally makes for a fine bread basket, you can certainly start such a topic on the General Chowhounding Topics board.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. saks fifth avenue cafe has a great bread basket and a solid lunch- good for hanging with mom...no del posto, but pretty solid for what it is...

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: peacepie

                                                                I second SAKS...........excellent bread basket

                                                              2. Telepan - a phenomenal bread basket at brunch - homemade breads, banana bread, scones, cinnamon roles- fabulous - one of the best I've experienced.

                                                                1. I recently had 2 nice ones. Maze and Ditch Plains

                                                                  1. Peasant has amazing bread and ricotta "butter"

                                                                    1. eatery has amazing cinnamon bread that they bring for brunch. Also, i have heard that paris commune brings pumpkin bread, but i have never been..

                                                                      1. Here are my favorites in no particular order (others have already mentioned these, but I'll second them...)
                                                                        -A Voce (love the olive oil for dipping with red pepper flakes)
                                                                        -Quality Meats (can't get enough)

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jrazzle

                                                                          I agree about Sfoglia - whatever else people may say about the place, that bread is out of this world.

                                                                        2. My faves so far:

                                                                          Nice Matin (at brunch)
                                                                          Roberto Passon (ditto)
                                                                          Swagat (you have to order it, it's an assortment of all their breads)
                                                                          Nikos (the Greek sister-restaurant to Big Nick's on the UWS - pleasant surprise)

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: piccola

                                                                            Sfoglia is indeed super
                                                                            Breakfast bread basket at Balthazar, with a sticky bun is lovely as well

                                                                          2. A few years back I lived on the UWS. I was dieting at one point and everyday had to walk by the outdoor cafe of Firorello's in the Lincoln Square area. Each day the tables were adorned with amazing looking bread baskets, including this big cracker-like flat bread dusted with seame seeds. Never got a chance to eat it, but that damn basket still haunts me; it looked so great. This was some 4 years ago and whenever in that area, I still make a point of looking to see if that bread basket remains so tempting. It does. I know, I know, eat there already!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: chow_gal

                                                                              as a current UWS resident, I've had the same experience countless times!!
                                                                              i know just what you mean. i did try it once and wasn't completely impressed. imo, it's good but definitely not as fabulous as it looks.

                                                                            2. Del Posto has a great bread basket, served with lardo, can't be beat.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: lookingforpig

                                                                                Could one simply walk into Del Posto (sit at the bar? enoteca?) and eat salumi and bread and lardo and nothing else, without an angry server? Important Q.

                                                                                1. re: cmballa

                                                                                  You might be able to do it at the bar, but likely not at a table.

                                                                                  1. re: lookingforpig

                                                                                    As I expected. Unemployment is all about wits, you know.