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Saint Amour for lunch today - good, but too tough bread

I met a friend for lunch today at Saint Amour. I was looking forward to it, having always loved Angelique Cafe in downtown back when the people who run the new Culver City restaurant ran that.

The place is very nicely put together, comfortable - if rather loud when crowded for an easy conversation. The prices are quite reasonable by French bistro standards.

I had salade nicoise and it was very good. It might have been a wee bit overdressed and could have used just a bit more potato, olive and green beans, but I liked it. I especially liked the white anchovies, which most places don't use. The tuna was good, cooked rare like I like it, and neither too little or too much.

My friend ordered a chicken salad sandwich. We were a little concerned that it might come on the same bread as was in the bread basket on the table. It wasn't that it tasted bad, it was good bread. But, it was incredibly tough and chewy - almost tooth breaking tough and chewy.

Of course, that's the bread her sandwich came on. She valiantly tried to eat the first half, but every time she'd manage to wrestle a bite out of the sandwich, a bunch of the chicken salad would squirt out the other end. She gave up on the second half and scraped the chicken salad out of the sandwich and ate it with a fork. The chicken salad itself was tasty, though with rather too much mint for my liking.

I'm in my 50s and my teeth are, admittedly, somewhat worn down. My friend, however, is 30 and has sharp, efficient, strong young teeth.

I'll gladly return to Saint Amour, but I'm not going to order a sandwich unless it comes on some other bread.

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  1. Thanks for the warning. Good bread is an important part of the meal, in my opinion. Especially if you're having a salad and particularly in a French or Italian restaurant. Sounds like your friend got yesterdays bread. In fairness, I've been to Saint Amour and had no issue with the bread served. You would be doing them a favor by telling the manager.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Baron

      I completely agree. Bad bread at a French or Italian restaurant is, to me, like bad chips at a Mexican restaurant (a total dealbreaker). Tough, but true. I actually read a Yelp review where someone had the same problem at Saint Amour and they asked for new bread and that second batch came out fine. I've been wanting to check them out for the Moules Frites and Boudin noir (which is so hard to find these days). So, I hope I don't run into that bread issue.

      Jeannette
      http://talk.2itch.com
      Everything Open 24 Hours

    2. Some bakeries like heavily-crusted bread, although my teeth do not, and maybe yours do not either.
      However, there are those...
      Mention it to Bruno or Florence, and make sure you are concerned about their well-being, and of course your being able to return for a better sandwich.

      1 Reply
      1. re: carter

        I ate there last month with a couple of friends for dinner. I do recall their bread being hard and I was disappointed since I usually love French restaurants for their bread and butter. Our appetizers and entrees were very good though. I ordered the escargots which were a good size and flavorful. I usually dip the bread in the leftover garlic butter... but since the bread was hard, it could have been better. For the entree I got the duck confit. The portion was much bigger than I expected and the duck was very tender. My friends liked their lamb and "fish-souffle" as the waiter described. I'll definitely go again! Prices aren't too bad either for the quality and portions.

      2. I don't mind HARD bread, but I can't stand TOUGH bread, and too many sandwich places around here ruin their otherwise excellent offerings by putting them on bread whose crust you can't bite through. If I've brought one of those home I can amend the problem sometimes by putting the thing in the toaster oven for a bit, but in a restaurant you're stuck.

        I'm still looking forward to visiting Saint Amour, but I'll stay away from the sandwiches. Thanks for the warning. Ditto about the dreadfully inauthentic salade Niçoise - I know white anchovies and fresh tuna are trendy, but they're wrong.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          I must admit that I prefer the white anchovies and fresh tuna to the more authentic version. But, maybe that's just me.

          1. re: estone888

            Well, they might as well be completely different fish. A good-quality canned tuna in olive oil is very much transformed from what went into the can, just as a cured anchovy has a flavor and pungency that the lightly-pickled uncured one doesn't even hint at. In a proper Niçoise these flavors are played off against and balanced with the greens, potato, olives, green beans, egg and vinaigrette - it's not simply an assortment of things on a plate, but a coherent dish.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Agree, Mr. O, they and others have totally "trendified" the authentic "Salade Nicoise" and should warn patrons with the description on the menu.

              As to the bread, definitely sounds like they're trying to cut costs by using day old bread.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                The crust is tough, not hard, so the bread was flawed from the get-go - overdevelopment of gluten, to get technical. I've had some favorite breads whose crust remained tender long after the bread was stale. Very few sandwich places around here have anything like that, though Claro's is pretty good.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  I am into crusty bread. It was always an important part of the family meal back in New Jersey. Some of the best bread I've had recently has been at the Grill on the alley and, as I recall, Musso and Franks with their great house salad. Haven't been in years since I worked over there. Hard crusts with soft interiors. Costco has a good selection of fresh breads of all kinds. Most from La Brea Bakery. Much better than what I find at the local markets.

                  1. re: Baron

                    Our Costco (Alhambra) was completely devoid of bread last time we were in, most disappointing since I like to buy the twin-pack of LB's rosemary/olive oil bread. I also love the Viennese Loaf when they have that - very much the tender-crust type I mentioned above. Don't know if the outage was a temporary thing, but they didn't even have a table for it.

                    I do buy LB bread at my Ralphs, though it's really expensive there. Usually just get the plain French, for sandwiches at home.