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Thorough Bread and Pastry?

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A friend just sent me this note:

"An excellent new addition to the San Francisco artisan bread and pastry
scene *just* opened:

Thorough Bread and Pastry
248 Church Street
Church near Market...right next to Sparky's
415-558-0690

This is operated by the San Francisco Baking Institute (www.sfbi.com) and
most of the product is baked at the school."

Has anyone been to this bakery, yet? If so, how was it? I'm going to try to get there in the next day or so and I'll report, also.

--NancyB

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  1. Thanks for the tip ... but gee .. this makes me sad ...for better or worse that means the last Just Dessert retail shop closed in SF.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Isn't there a Just Desserts shop in the Metreon -- or has that closed, too?

      1. re: Nancy Berry

        It still is there...but I think they may still have actually baked at the one on Church St.

        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          I don't think there's been any baking there in 25 years. As I recall, when Just Desserts built their bigger bakery in Bayview, they expanded the cafe into the old bakery space.

    2. I'm the guy who first alerted Nancy... I finally went there myself. Had a baguette, ciabatta, and croissant. All the best I've had in SF.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AllenCohn

        Had a terrific flakey crusted danish...and their brownies are very chewy! Not cakey, not fudgey...but chewy!

      2. Can anyone please tell us the hours of operation for this place?

        1 Reply
        1. re: lmarie

          Per tablehopper, Tue–Sat 7am–7pm, Sun 7am–3pm, closed Monday.

        2. I tried a ham and cheese croissant. I bought it in the evening and ate it, heated, the next morning, so I was prepared to give lots of leeway since it was day-old. Well, no need for leeway. The croissant was crisply flaky on the outside with distinct flaky layers within. It's not the bomb that Tartine's ham and cheese croissant is: Thorough's is much lighter on the cheese, has just a bit of thinly sliced ham, and isn't heavy with butter. Don't get me wrong -- Tartine's ham-and-cheese croissant is one of my favorite treats -- but Thorough's is a very good rendition of a different style.

          I also tried a shortbread, which was nice and crumbly.

          Staff was well-meaning but amateurish.

          I'll be back.

          1. I got a very respectable demi-baguette and a slice of apple galette. The galette was a bit small but tasty. The baguette was crusty and chewy.

            It's quite a pretty space with a sheltered patio and Harney teas.

            1. link

              -----
              Thorough Bread and Pastry
              248 Church Street, San Francisco, CA

              1. I've been here twice, on consecutive early Saturday mornings. I have had only the croissants (all of them), sticky bun, baguette, a brownie, and some cookies. There are some gorgeous, fancy French pastries and eclairs I have not tried yet, as well as many types of bread. The owner gifted me a few tiny cookies last time and my friend a large baguette this time. I saw him give away other things to other folks the first time I was there. He wants people to try everything.

                The croissants are absolutely the best I've had in SF. I've spent a total of 1 week in France, and that was in 1993. Thus, I can't compare croissants to France's croissants, but my friend who tried the plain croissant this weekend said it's the closest to those in France that he's had in the U.S.

                The owner, or perhaps he's the manager, is a tall French man. He's a good person to ask about everything they have.

                If one is used to Tartine's prices (I go there occasionally and they've recently raised the prices), this place seems like a major bargain. The quality is superb. The piece of baguette I had was superb. Yes, the ham and cheese croissants are great. I actually wasn't crazy about the peanut butter cookie or brownie that I tried, but they were fine.

                There is a really lovely outdoor courtyard out back. The place has been nearly empty both times I went. Thorough Bread and Pastry is a true gem that deserves admiration and a lot of business.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Atomica

                  Went again yesterday (Sunday) morning. This place is a GEM, a real find, and they don't seem to be getting much business. It would be a damn shame to lose such a stellar bakery. In the meantime, the coffee place two doors down seems to be getting a lot of customers. Thorough is now my go-to for baguettes and croissants. I still haven't tried the fancier desserts. We were on our way to Marin yesterday and those wouldn't have survived the heat.

                  1. re: Atomica

                    Agreed. Things we tried:

                    Ham sandwich: only got one bite, but it was tasty. Sliced (not sweet) cornichones in the sandwich earned them lots of points in my book, since plenty of "French" places in town are too lazy to bother with sourcing them.
                    Baba au Rhum: this was the first one I've ever had, but it was really darned good. Not cheap, but again really tasty.
                    Croissant: very respectable. Not quite the style I like, but I'm sure there are people out there that would find this near-perfect.
                    Sourdough: this stuff is great. I've never encountered such a great crust on sourdough--normally the acidic dough doesn't brown as well and develop quite as much of a flaky crispy exterior, but this one was stellar. Not browned, but nice and crispy on the outside without being tough.
                    Baguette: we ordered a mini baguette, but the nice lady there wrapped up a whole one. I pointed out the error, and she said she was giving it to us anyway, "because I can and I'm drunk on power!" It was quite good, and a boon to have a full size since it didn't last more than 12 hours.

                    I'll definitely be back, though I wish they stayed open into the evening so their beautiful single-serving tarts would be available for spur of the moment dessert.

                    1. re: SteveG

                      Their baguettes seem to keep an extra day; they're a little fluffier than say Acme's sticks. I was buying the halves, but no longer seems necessary. I also tried a ciabatta roll, which was fine but I prefer the baguettes.

                2. I came here about 7:30 am on Saturday looking to continue my personal Almond croissant hunt. When I got here, the croissants didn't visually look like my preferred style, so instead I tried the Bostock (slice of brioche soaked in a light rum syrup I think, then topped with sliced almonds and possibly baked again, dusted with powdered sugar) which I found to be delicious. I also had an Almond biscotti which was nothing to get again.

                  I asked the CSR for a smaller sized bread rec, and she was very honest in telling me not to get any bread b/c the baskets were the previous day's leftovers. She said that Saturday's order had not "arrived" yet. I thought they baked bread on-site too, I guess only pastries?

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: justtryit

                    Anything that is a yeast dough-based product is not baked on site (bread, croissant, etc). The lady who helped me explained that the kitchen they inherited with that location was minimal, and they have a semi-portable oven that's good for things like scones and muffins, but doesn't have steam injection or the temperature control horsepower necessary for good results with bread and croissants.

                    If it doesn't involve precision baking, then they probably are doing it on site (frosting cakes, assemblage, etc.)

                    I should also reiterate here that this is an outlet for the baking school, so there's no lack of authenticity inherent in the fact that they don't bake much at the Church street location. The students bake at the school, and the products are sold to the public at the retail outlet on Church. Some of the students also work the counter and in assembly on Church street.

                    1. re: justtryit

                      Have you tried Bay Bread's almond croissant? So far, its my absolute favorite. I haven't gotten it from any of their shops, but I have been getting it at the Sunday Temescal farmer's market. Its amazing how crispy, flaky, yummy it is with such smooth creamy almond filling. Every time I have it, I think I'm in heaven. Even better, I buy it on Sunday, and eat it Monday morning for breakfast on my way to work, and it doesn't seem to have suffered any in sitting overnight on my kitchen table.

                      1. re: chemchef

                        YES!!! I just tried it on Sunday as a matter of fact after reading the Almond Croissant thread....bought it from the bakery on Pine.

                        I got there pretty close to their opening and my croissant was a little warm. Found it truly decadent and I immediately called my room mate (we are Tartine-holics) and suggested the idea of a face off that will involve a lot of will power and driving to pit Tartine, Bay Bread, and Bouchon Bakery's versions of morning buns and croissants head to head (all bought and consumed on the same day). I find Bay Bread's almond croissant to be quite different from Tartine's...both delicious in their own ways. Bouchon's seems to be closer to Bay Bread's version, though I've only had Bouchon's once (in December). From what I remember it has the richer, more liquidy custard like filling compared to Tartine's drier paste filling. I know it's been said that Bay Bread's is too over the top in terms of sweetness and decadence, but I suppose I like my pastry with nuts flavors to be extremely intense (I loved Phoenix Pastificio's almond macarons).

                        As mentioned I had meant to buy Thorough's almond croissant, but it didn't look like I'd enjoy it. Ended up getting Urban Bread's that morning, which I found unworthy of a second chance. I also went by Delanghe right after Bay Bread, but again didn't like the looks of theirs. Acme's is okay. This weekend I'm hoping to try for the first time Mission Beach Cafe's or Pâtisserie Philippe's versions if I don't make it to Yountville. At some point I'm looking to try Delissio's too.

                        1. re: justtryit

                          I find it ironic with your username that you didn't actually try the croissant at Thorough or Delanghe. No way is Patisserie Philippe's going to be as good as Thorough.

                          1. re: Atomica

                            Is your praise of Thorough's croissants for any and all of their varieties or just limited to plain and h&c?

                            1. re: justtryit

                              Those are the ones I've had the most--probably tried the chocolate. I don't even recall seeing almond. I know I would have bought one. Must just be luck of the draw that I haven't seen them.

                              1. re: Atomica

                                I haven't been to Thorough Bread and Pastry yet, but gotta agree with you that Bay Bread makes my favorite almond croissant (and I don't even like flaky pastries) as well as canneles. If you're lucky, you might even be able to get a warm croissant with a sweet and slightly flowing frangipane filling. Sometimes I ask for a crispier one with a crackly topping and flaky crust ... paired with the soft and creamy filling, decadent indeed!

                                I find Tartine's almond croissant denser than I would like, and the filling is drier and could be a bit sweeter as justryit described. Ditto for the filling for Patisserie Philippe's almond croissant ... guess I have a sweet tooth as well. The latter does make a good plain croissant though, rich and buttery but uber crispy and flaky with a nice hint of salt.

                                1. re: Atomica

                                  Updated: Went to Thorough today. They don't make an almond croissant.

                                  1. re: Atomica

                                    They had almond croissants displayed last week. :)

                      2. I have tried this place twice now and been very impressed.
                        The first time I just stopped to pick up a bagette. Wow. I don't think I can do that again unless someone else will be home. Nothing wrong with just bread, cheese and olive oil for dinner but not the whole thing by myself!
                        The next time we raced in to grab pastries before an appointment. At 10:30 on Saturday, we were the only people in there. Which was shocking because I was utterly in love with my ham and cheese croissant - less crunchy than Tartines but definitely with some good crispy flaky outer layers. My mother doesn't eat, well much of anything, but she had wanted a latte. I talked her into getting a bran muffin, and my goodness it was delicious. Moist and dense, it tasted like pumpkin bread and happiness. She actually requested I stop on our way home and pick her up another one for breakfast the next day. So thus far, everything I have tried has been a hit - but I too haven't yet had any of their desserts.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: Meredith

                          Oh yeah, I forgot that we got a bran muffin this weekend too along with our other purchases. It was great! As you said, moist and dense, and we were impressed that it wasn't overly sweet.

                          1. re: Meredith

                            Btw - Thorough sells "demi" baguettes and ciabatta loaves for $1 if you want a smaller amount of bread (it's just the right amount for a sandwich).

                            I live right around the corner from Thorough and it's definitely growing on me. I think their breads are top notch. I'm still not entirely into their pastries (it's much lighter fare than Tartine to which I'm still partial). But I've stopped buying the Acme and Semifreddi breads at the nearby markets in favor of Thorough's fresher offerings.

                            1. re: papa

                              hi papa, and everyone else, the reason you like thorough is because sfbi is french, real french, the sfbi, they are teachers, and they are the one acme, la bread, semifreddio, all go to, to learn how to bake, you are every lucky to have a quality baker like this right around the corner, it is better then going to france . the michel suas is one of the most respected baker in the feild......just ask anyone who knows breads.

                              1. re: polly oh

                                Acme has been around since 1983, SFBI didn't open until 1996.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  acme bread may been around in 1983 but they are consulting clients of the sfbi, same with la brea., brian woods, didier rosada , lionel vatinet, and tim kizman, are one of the best bread and pastry makers around michel even has the golden baguette to prove it.

                                  1. re: polly oh

                                    Acme might have hired them to help design the Ferry Plaza facility or something like that, but they didn't teach Steve Sullivan how to bake.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    If you haven't tried the SFBI products yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. The baguette doesn't look like much--just a true to type baguette, but the flavor and texture are spot-on perfect.

                                    Similarly, the ciabatta looks like most other ciabattas, but I finally understood what the milk in the dough is supposed to contribute, and I'm probably not going to buy ciabattas anywhere else now.

                                    My better half's turkey sandwich was on a sesame seed roll, which was fantastic. The seeds were well-adhered to the crust, and they were perfectly toasted. Not a single seed was over toasted, nor under toasted. When I compare that to the sesame-covered semolina loaf from De la Fattoria where the sesame doesn't add much and I usually find myself scraping off the seeds, I'm incredibly impressed by what they're putting out.

                                    Over the course of a few weeks buying some bread from Thorough Bread & Pastry and other bread from Acme, De la Fattoria, and semmifreddi, that Thorough Bread & Pastry is consistently better with every loaf I have tried.

                                    1. re: SteveG

                                      Yes, what SteveG said. Their bread is of incredibly high quality and it's delicious and you should really try it. I had a simple mozz/basil/tomato/olive oil sandwich on a baguette there recently--best I've had in my life. I think where polly oh gets into trouble is saying that SFBI is where places like Acme go "to learn how to bake." Obviously they knew how to bake before SFBI came along, but for refining recipes and learning how to run a large operation, SFBI does advise these already existing companies.

                                      1. re: Atomica

                                        yes atomica, they do go there to learn how to bake bread, i also went to sfbi to learn how to bake bread, there are different ways to bake bread, when to steam, what bread needs a strong bake as in higher temp., and a longer temp., they even teach you how to bake a pumpernickel bread for 36 hours, and they also teach you how to bake in a wood oven, like i said , you are very very lucky to have a man like michel baking in your area, he is someone who really does care about the bread he bakes, and unlike alot of ARTISAN BAKERS he is the real deal. enjoy

                                        1. re: polly oh

                                          You are preaching to the choir in my case. But Acme did not go to SFBI "to learn how to bake bread." That's just silly. Learn new techniques, perhaps.

                                          1. re: Atomica

                                            I read this a while ago and it's been on my mind that I knew that Thorough Bread's owner did teach a lot of people how to bake bread. I finally did a web search and saw the SF Chronicle's recent, in-depth piece on SFBI and its founder and president, Michel Suas. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...)

                                            Steve Sullivan of Acme was Michel Suas's first client in the 1980s. Suas helped Sullivan and Acme out with equipment, planning, and stabilizing some of Acme's formulas. Apparently Steve and Michel are still very close. His client roster is essentially a Who's Who of artisan baking (Acme, La Brea, Grace, Balthazar, Thomas Keller's Bouchon, etc.).

                                            1. re: PaneEVino

                                              I can appreciate he recognizes the uniqueness of Sourdough, but that makes me question why the bread is near extinct since his influence has been felt in the area.

                                              None of the Artisan bread makers can pull it off, or seemingly want to. Thorough makes a good variation of this modern not-exactly-Sourdough type Sourdough creation....but I'd like to see him dig deep and get it right.

                                          2. re: polly oh

                                            As far as I know, Thorough doesn't sell pumpernickel though. Or have I missed it?

                              2. Coincidentally, stumbled upon this gem just today while walking with a friend in the neighborhood. Wow! What a find. Great prices for the quality. There was hardly anyone there at 11:00 AM. Lovely space. We sat out on the patio. They have a fantastic variety of breads and gorgeous pastries. I enjoyed the best croissant (okay, I had two!) I've had in the City. My friend had wonderful soup followed by a perfect coconut macaroon. Brought home a delicious baguette and ate way too much of it in one sitting.

                                1. I bought the multigrain bread. What a treat! It has wheat and rye flours and 4 grains: flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds, and rolled oats. It's like a multigrain version of a mild sourdough, since it is natually leavened. Just right density, crust and flavor. I love it.

                                  1. Visited this morning. This is the real deal--excellent, reasonably priced baked goods, ample seating (including garden patio), no line. Demi baguette was great; ham and cheese croissant was very good (excellent technique and very light, but I prefer Tartine's flavor/greasebomb).

                                    1. I would add that Thorough Bread's pastries are amazing, and on par with the bread. I had a fresh fruit galette last weekend that left my knees weak. Simple, buttery, flaky crust cradling the most ripe fruit I've tasted. Also the caramel napoleon is otherworldly. My only gripe is that they have these gorgeous pictures of Parisian macarons on the brochure and on the walls, but they don't serve them in the store -- that hurt. I'm hoping that they'll carry them soon...the ones at Boulange just don't compare to Pierre Herme or Laduree.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: PaneEVino

                                        I had that rustic peach galette last week and agree about the weak at the knees part. The peaches were lucious and the pastry as you described.

                                        Have you tried the diamonds? They are round cookies little bigger than a quarter with the edges rolled in icing. The flavors are vanilla, chocolate and coffee. The texture is like a light shortbread. Each is intensely flavored with the chocolate full of coccoa goodnes, the coffee like a great latte. The vanilla was the least flavored, but nice and at 3 for $1 ... SO worth the price.

                                        IMO, they have the best sourdough and ciabatta in the city. The foccacia is very nice too.

                                        Great coconut macaroon dipped in chocolate. The coconut is finely ground and moist inside with a nice brown exterior. Delcious chocolate as well.

                                        The only thing that I though was just ok was the ham and cheese croissant. The brownie was good, but not great enough for me to order again.

                                        I love how they wrap the bagettes in white paper. Very nice staff.

                                        As you mentioned, great prices.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          rworange, I agree with you about the ham and cheese croissant. I finally gave it a second chance (it's the only thing I've had there that really didn't wow me), and asked them to heat one for me in the oven. They cheerfully indulged me, and the ham and cheese croissant was a completely different experience -- the layers of pastry were distinct, and the croissant was heated throughout because it wasn't chock full of ham and cheese.

                                          BTW, I'll have to try to diamonds...they sound great.

                                          1. re: PaneEVino

                                            The ham and cheese croissant is one of my favorite things there. It's not a gut-bomb. So many times the ham in a such a pastry is too thick, too hard, just not the right size or thickness. I appreciate their restraint.

                                          2. re: rworange

                                            It's one of the better sourdough's in the city right now, but I think the bar is pretty low. It's not sour enough for me, and I wish it were crustier, but still one of the best choices out there. I would really rather buy a Tartine bread and just start accepting that the SF Sourdough is nearly dead.

                                        2. I live within walking distance of both Tartine and Thorough Bread. Lucky me. :) I read an article about the owner of Thorough Bread (teacher at SFBI) helping the owner/baker at Tartine and had to check TB out. Wow. I've been thrilled with everything I've tried.

                                          Their whole grain bread is addictive (even more so than Tartine's country (pain au levain) or sesame bread. TB's sesame semolina bread and rolls are delicious. I too have had "free bread" given to me (i.e. sourdough rolls - delish). The biscotti was also good. It's a lovely place - hope they can get more business. The downside to Tartine - the wait staff, the wait, the lining up out the door.... Be nice if half the traffic could go to TB to keep both in business but not make the process of obtaining the bread or desserts painful at either.

                                          It's wonderful to have choices; and Boulangerie on Pine is still a contender. :)

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: LmCinSF

                                            You might be triply lucky rather than doubly, because if you live within walking distance of both places, you might live within walking distance of Mission Beach Cafe. They also have stunningly good pastries.

                                            I had one of Thorough Bread's rustic apple tarts the other day, and it was one of those "omigod" moments that PaneEVino posted about in June. We also got a pumpkin pave' (accent aigu on the -e-) that was great. It was very much like pumpkin cheesecake with a crumb crust and crumb topping and great spicing.

                                            1. re: Atomica

                                              I tried the Pumpkin Pave' recently as well - it was lovely.

                                            2. re: LmCinSF

                                              I had a free roll recently. They were deliving the bread in the morning and after buying some bread and thinking about it I went back to buy some jam and cranberry sauce. The person delivering the bread gave me a hot roll to have with the jam.

                                              I liked the peachi weachi jam. It is not overly sweet and seems just like condensed peaches. The cranberry sauce was the consistancy of a fruit butter and very tart. It seemed to have a touch of clove in it and I'm just not someone who likes that spice so I wouldn't buy that again. I do like that neither was over-sugared.

                                            3. I prefer their breads to the pastries. Recently I tried the multi-grain loaf, and it was delicious with smoked salmon from Alemany Market (Blue Ocean?) and scallions and with Marin Sun Farms pastrami. Fine with jam too.