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Apr 10, 2006 12:12 AM

Berkeley - The Bread Garden & Stanley’s Bakery poppy seed onion rolls

  • r

While checking out the hot cross buns at The Bread Garden, the seeded potato-onion baguette caught my attention. Roberto likes seeded baguettes.

One bite and I became 17 years old again, because that was the last time I had one of the onion poppy seed rolls at Stanley’s Bakery in my home town … so long ago I forgot they even existed.

The baguette tastes like an excellent Kaiser roll with onions baked into the dough and those great poppy seeds on top. The onion-y aroma is wonderful. They are only baked on Sunday.

Here’s what The Bread Garden site (link below) has to say about the bread;

“Sunday: Potato-Onion Bread & Baguettes--we began making this bread in 1974 as German Potato Bread. The original recipe was given to us by a Jewish baker who said it was the Sabbath bread of the Jewish neighborhoods of his pre-World War II German home. Sometime in the 1980's we began to add onions which had been browned in butter and this has been a Sunday favorite since then.”

This bread was so good to me that I actually involuntarily teared up. Part of it forgotten memories of stopping off at Stanley’s on Sunday with the family after mass.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a bread slicer. Yes, hallelujah, this is the only artisan bakery in the Bay Area that will SLICE YOUR BREAD !!!

So I bought a three seed rye … sliced.

While it isn’t Stanley’s rye (rye seeds only), it is a nice bread. It is a chewy rye. Don’t know what all the seeds are, but the outside has a lot of toasted sesame seeds.

One of the other standouts is the garlic cheese roll. It is a real close contender for best cheese roll with the Cheeseboard’s version. It definitely outclasses the awful version that Acme sells in Berkeley.

While the cheese is better at Cheeseboard, the roll is better at The Bread Garden. The wonderful garlic puts it over the top. The problem with the Cheeseboard is that the texture is too chewy when it is cold. It almost wrenches your teeth out. So I always microwave it to soften it a bit.

The Bread Garden uses more of a Challah dough. Anyway it is a lovely thing.

They make a nice foccacia too, soft and yeasty with a thin spread of tomato sauce and cheese. The crust is brushed with olive oil, giving the crust a nice little crunch.

It is too bad that the site only lists the daily specials. The Bread Garden seems to do some Eastern European breads. There was a small loaf of Danish Pumpernickel (100% rye) that is the only fresh-looking version of this bread that I’ve seen in the Bay Area.

The other breads that are baked daily: 100% whole wheat, raisin-pumpernickel, sourdough malted barley, sweet & sourdough French breads in various shapes and sizes, sourdough white rye, cinnamon-swirl, 19th century baguette.

The turnovers and fruit pockets looked excellent and their menu says that they make their own fruit fillings, from scratch, which are 2/3 fruit.

There are four types of brioche: Petite brioche, morning brioche (pan au raisin), apple brioche and cherry-almond brioche.

In addition they have muffins, scones, croissants, bear claws and other Danish pastries. Some of the more interesting sounding pastries: German cheese pockets, Parisian apple tarts, butterhorns, spinach-feta pockets and whole wheat Danish (healthy Danish, perhaps?).

They have a few desserts like Linzer torte and their own house-made peanut butter cups.

There are about 18 cookies baked every day. They even bake dog cookies … which they note can be eaten by dogs and teething infants.

The cookies tried were fine. They have two types of macaroons – French almond (very sweet with a crispy exterior) and coconut macaroons (not as sweet, soft little coconut balls) The chocolate nuggets which they say are intense chocolate, didn’t seem that way too me. They were nice in that they were not too sweet and tasted of cocoa. The blueberry and cranberry cookies were tiny ice box type of cookies with dried fruit.

Other cookies to sample on future visits are snickerdoodles, shortbread (the menu says as good as the best in Scotland), Mexican wedding cakes, Financiers, pumpkin chocolate chip, pistachio biscotti, and ginger cookies.

There are more cookies and desserts that are common like brownies and chocolate chip cookies. There is a white board with specials too.

Oh yeah, they have puff pastries: Almondettes, crispies & Palmiers.

I have to say that I really liked the coffee too. Don’t know the brand.

I liked The Bread Garden. They only sell at the bakery and at Berkeley Bowl. Until a week ago, I was confusing them with The Bread Workshop. The Bread Workshop has, for the most part, cupcake excepted, under-whelmed me.

I’m so glad my hot cross bun search lead me to this great bakery. If they make nothing but that Potato-onion bread, I’ll be happy. It firmed up my Easter plans. Definitely getting the kielbasa and ham from Polish Deli in Palo Alto. That onion-potato bread … with a little Saul’s beet horseradish will make some stellar sandwiches.

The Bread Garden Bakery seems mid-way between the old-fashioned European bakeries like Schubert’s / Neldham’s and the upscale seriously artisan bakeries like Acme. To me, that is a good thing. Much better quality than the European bakeries and less, oh, I don’t know, upscale-edness. Just good bread and baked goods.

P.S. Lots of people on bikes in this area on Sundays (Next to Rick & Ann’s). Be careful. I almost sent someone to heaven. One of the few times I deserved to be yelled at by a biker.

The Bread Garden Bakery

2912 Domingo Ave.(at the foot of the Claremont Hotel)
Berkeley, California 94705.

(510) 548-3122.


7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday
7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday
8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.


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  1. Unless something's changed, there's a 2-for-1 markdown after 6pm on weekdays.


    11 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks so much for that post, not just the hint, but the link to the post with other posters who named some of their favorites.

      Since most people don't follow links, I'm going to pull out a quote from ed who said it beautifully about Bread Garden:

      "the bread garden seems to have an unusually deft grasp of yeast/gluten harmonics. their textures are robust but tender. there's a heartiness that allows you to feel the contributions of the grain, the yeast, and the baker."

      1. re: rworange

        The Bread Garden was my walk-to, neighborhood bakery when I lived at Dwight and Piedmont. Hadn't been there for about 15 years.

        You need to try the 19th century baguette.


      2. re: Melanie Wong

        Yep, they still have the 2 for 1. Stopped by tonight after 6. Unfortunately they sold out of the salt-rising bread by 6pm.

        That fresh fruit filling in the pastries is really some of the best in the Bay Area. The blueberry pocket was just outstanding as far as the real blueberr filling. The cherries on the cherry brioche were nice sour cherries. The pastry itself is somewhere between Neldham's and the more upscale places.

        It is pretty funny. They start that 2 for 1 deal EXACTLY at 6 pm. Not a second before. I walked in 3 minutes before and there was one guy in front of me. By time 6 pm rolled around (if you can call a three minute wait rolling around) the line was out the door.

        You can mix and match. So any two pastries, for example, that cost $2. Any two breads of the same price. They will let you do a 2-for-1 with unequal priced breads if you pay the price of the higher-price loaf.

        They had that terrific garlic-cheese roll in baquette form tonight.

        Took your suggestion and got the 19th century baguette which is nice with a pleasant chewy crust. The seeded baquette is good too although I like Arizmundi or La Farine a little better for this baquette.

        The thing they excel at in the area is Eastern European bread. The pumpernickel is good with it seems a touch of molasses in it ... or some sort of sweetner.

        However it is that white that satifies my rye bread craving. It is really close to the taste of Stanley's bakery the difference being the crust is more chewy than and the bread a little denser but it makes me happy because it is fresh and has a nice sour rye taste to it.

        It is so good that if they sold to anyone but Berkeley Bowl I'd bring Polish Deli a loaf when I go down there for Kielbasa. I know he'd love this stuff to make sandwiches.

        Well, I have enough bread in the freezer for quite a while and Roberto is very happy with those baguettes.

        1. re: rworange

          >Unfortunately they sold out of the salt-rising bread by 6pm.<

          Have you had their salt-rising bread recently? I tried it a few (several?) years ago and found it to be a pale shadow of the salt-rising bread I grew up with and can't find now.

          1. re: Mick Ruthven

            No. Actually another negative post about it in this thread made me seek it out. That poster said it didn't match the description on the web-site so I wanted to try it out. Don't know much about Passover, but maybe the reason it sold out today?

            1. re: rworange

              There is really only one negative post about their salt-rising bread since I posted the earlier one and then also asked you about it...

              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                Well, duh. I suspected you were the person who mentioned the salt-rising bread, but couldn't find the original reference.

                Anyway, scored a loaf today. Since this is my first sample, I can't say if it is better or worse than in the past, but I have to say I like it very much. In fact, it may be my favorite sliced white bread in the Bay Area.

                As to matching the website description ...

                "its chief characteristic is a cheesy aroma and a creamy texture"

                Yeah, never would describe it as a cheesy aroma, more deeply bready and almost yeasty without the yeast.

                Texture-wise more velvety than creamy, but I kind of get that description, excellent dense crumb yet light ... uh, Wonder bread if it wasn't all air and done correctly and had a yeasty taste and good crust. OK, maybe not Wonder Bread. Actually, more like Pepperidge Farm bread that isn't sold on this coast ... or my memory of Pepperidge Farm.

                But the stand-out today for me was their pumpernickel raisin. This is one of the few breads they don't slice but sell only by the chunk. Tell them how much of the loaf you want and they will hack off a slice.

                This matches the best of anything Acme can make. Amazing texture almost bordering on coffee cake. It has nice grains of pumpernickel in it. I like the crusts at the Bread Garden. They have character yet are not like the break-your-teeth crunchy crusts that seems to be required in the Bay Area to be considered a serious bread.

                I just so like the Eastern European breads this bakery makes. Unlike every other Eastern European bread bakers in the region, these loaves taste fresh. Everyone else makes these dry, healhty-tasting loaves that might as well be stale.

                I highly recommend this bread.

                Also bought the cinnamon swirl. While it tastes nice ... deep brown sugar/cinnamon swirls that were almost like caramel ... I may have bought an off loaf. There was excessive space between bread and swirl, so that almost 50 percent of the interior loaf was air.


                1. re: rworange

                  When you toast "real" salt-rising bread (it's really made for toasting) it fills the room/apt/house with its aroma. You either love that or hate it. Of course I love it but can't find it. Did you toast any of it?

                  1. re: Mick Ruthven

                    Actually, yes ... after I posted. It did change the aroma of the bread.

                    I'm glad no one is home tonight. I've been sniffing at that bread like a dog at a hydrant.

                    I didn't heavily toast it though. Will have to leave it in a little longer. Toasting was really nice for that cinnamon raisin bread.

                    Thanks for the hint about toasting. I'll try it again for breakfast tommorrow.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I'll have to get over there some Wednesday and try another loaf of their salt rising bread; it's been several years. If you're interested in more info about it, there's a website devoted to it.


                      1. re: Mick Ruthven

                        Thanks for the link. I was just about to search for more info.

                        I have to guess that what you are looking for isn't at The Bread Garden. Since you mentioned warm bread, I thought I'd try microwaving it as well as toasting to see if there was that cheese taste. Not to me.

                        Then I wondered "what type of cheese?" So that led to a post on the General topics board (link below).

                        The site you provided said:

                        "In the past, it was often served with homemade apple butter or preserves. Two modern day ways of serving Salt Rising Bread are as grilled cheese sandwiches and as stuffing for turkey or chicken."

                        I thought those were excellent suggestions. It seems Pepperidge Farms sells bread stuffing made of salt-rising bread. So my reference to Pepperidge Farm bread may not have been so off after all.

                        Any way, not knowing any better, I really love this bread.


      3. Hello, I stuck the linzer torte in there 'cause it's excellent at the B.G., in case Nikki Rothman, whom I consider an exemplar of generosity and compassion on these boards, might spot it. Ms. Rothman, if a friend from Berkeley should visit you, they should bring a piece of this linzer torte to see what you think, and may the peace of the holiday be with you.

        In case you didn't know, the scones are also excellent at the Bread Garden, I favor the "healthy" whole wheat one, and a lot of the goodies in general because they are high in flavor and quality ingredients and lower in sugar/sweeteners than many other bakeries. Flake pastry stuff like Danish and croissants actually fare excellently in whole wheat, the nuttiness and complexity of the grain break up the starch/fat monotony and is delicate in its own way, being lower in gluten. More difficult to make, from what I understand, which is why they're uncommon. Bread Garden was one of the food businesses in the north Shattuck 'hood that became the gourmet ghetto, before moving up by the Claremont. shalom

        1. I've really liked everything I've tried from the Bread Garden the times I've been there over several years, except that I was very disappointed by their Salt-Rising Bread, wonderfully described on their website, which I thought had very little of the texture, aroma, or flavor of real Salt-Rising Bread. That was a few years ago. Has anyone tried it recently?

          1. r
            Robert Lauriston

            The Bread Garden's OK but since I'd have to go past La Farine to get there ...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Well, I have to go past Acme to get to La Farine ... so I rarely buy bread at La Farine. Besides, The Bread Garden has an Eastern European slant rather than French.