Baguette vs Baguette: Thorough Bread's Purple Wheat and Gourmet & More's Baguette [San Francisco]
I say "versus" but both are great.
Since Tartine changed up their bread ordering system and made it more difficult to snag one of their perfect loaves, I've been on the hunt for an excellent loaf that I can buy more easily. I can't stand the sight of a sad, floppy baguette, of which you see so many--just take it behind the barn and put it out of its misery.
Here are the two best that I've tried and liked lately:
Thorough Bread Purple Wheat Baguette
Beautiful crumb, nice tender interior and crackly exterior; darker fins of crust rise from the top. The bread isn't purple, but the interior has faint specks with a gray tone. The shop's assistant described it to me as whole wheat, but this isn't the taste impression the dough imparts--it's a slightly fuller flavor than a normal baguette, with the faintest whiff of sourdough. (Photo attached)
Gourmet & More Baguette
The French couple who own this shop order bread from an outside vendor who bakes to their specifications (I think they said Bay Bread, but I wasn't sure if it was the BB company or the old BB baker). The baker must use sea salt from Bretagne, and although I can't tell the difference in salt's provenance, I can say that the texture of this bread is fantastic: tender interior, perfect shatter to the tooth. This is my favorite standard loaf, and they sell it by the pound, so you can order a half or quarter baguette, which is convenient if you're just picking something up to pair with soup for lunch.