New: Paso Robles Bakery, from owner of Berkeley's Bread Garden
Just opened the week before Christmas by David Morris, who owned the Bread Garden in Berkeley, which closed last summer after 38 years. I don't think he's even got a website up yet. Locals or those passing through, please let us know when you try it!
Paso Robles Bakery
1229 Park St
Paso Robles, CA 93446
I'm wondering if they are still working out kinks because while everything looks beautiful -- its all a bit drier and tougher than I'm used to. Granted, the choices in Paso are few and far between for good baked goods. But I'm a big fan of East Bay bakeries like Bakesale Betty's, Crixa, Cheeseboard and was hoping for the same type of quality.
Cookies are well-priced and the usual suspects are good. I tried a blueberry muffin and morning buns and noticed their items are a bit drier than I'm used to. The baguettes come in two types $3 for machine made (which the sales staff say is denser and tougher) and $4 for handmade. I have to say that when you're competing with TJs or Albertsons, don't bother with saying it's machine made or offering a not so good option. Simply put, if the product isn't significantly better than either of these options I really can't see the locals paying for the bread, especially at $4 per baguette. I'd really like this bakery to succeed. I'm desperate for a good bakery so I hope they work out the kinks.
David's breads and pastries have never been overly rich or 'glamourous'. I find them much to my taste; his croissants are what the European ones I had 30 years ago tasted like. Not soggy with fats: stretchy, flabby,gummy; but light, and bready with a good crumb and crust. Perfect for spreading with a stout apricot jam. As far as competing with TJs or Albertson's they are factory breads in 'Artisan' wrappings.
David was already a savvy amatuer baker when he planned the Bread Garden. He went to Europe and trained in traditional village bake shops, and brought back the methods and recipes to augment his own. His products are not high-style, nor citified. To me they are much like those in simple village bakeries, made fresh every night with the best ingredients. I've always found them a refreshing and honest counterpoint to the inflated, overly sweet/rich pastries and breads so common these days(which remind me of the way Sushi has gone in California: "More jalepenos, more mayonnaise, more eel sauce!").
Give me simple and honest, made fresh daily, anytime. I haven't had but two of his breads yet, the $4 baguette and some rolls. I like the drier crumb and relative lack of butter in the morning bun compared to a couple other Bay Area samples I've had, they're delicate and don't hit you over the head with cinnamon or sugar. And his coconut macaroons were deliciously chewy with good quality unsweetened coconut. No sugar bombs there!
There should be a natural period of adjustment given the lack of humidity here as compared to Berkeley; ovens, new employees (though he did bring some of his original longtime crew) etc.
It might be easy to liken a difference of style to a difference in quality. I'd say give David's style a chance to grow on you. Some of the best breads I've eaten, anywhere. I'll keep chiming in as time goes on, I live about an hour to the south of Paso.
Have you tried the baked goods at the new cafe in Templeton? The baker came from the bakery shop behind Hoppe's in Cayucos, where he offered very good quality rustic breads and cookies, though the dessert-y options are a bit sweet for me. Not sure what they might be selling from the case, but worth looking into. At the east end of Main St's "downtown".
At the time I wrote this, did not know of the issues about the estate. At this time the bakery is for sale. I hope an aspiring baker will take up the challenge, and continue the work that David started, rennovating the original Paso Robles Bakery building so that it will "rise" again. sorry david! ;-)