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M. H. Bread & Butter in San Anselmo

At a dinner party last weekend, I immediately took note of the high quality of the piece of grilled levain accompanying the soup course. Good levain’s scarce on the ground despite the many outstanding bread bakers who call Sonoma County home. I had to know who made it. My friends said they bought it at The Shed in Healdsburg (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/899215 ). Another dinner guest said the baker who supplies the bread is starting up a bakery/café and has experience at Tartine. Also that the breads use hand-milled grain from the Shed. A little more sleuthing this week led me to M. H. Bread & Butter that just opened in San Anselmo.

Marinites, tell us about it please!

M. H. Bread & Butter
101 San Anselmo Ave
San Anselmo CA 94960
Tuesday: closed
Full cafe menu coming Mid-June
Where to find MHBB bread -
• Healdsburg Shed 25 North St Healdsburg, CA 95448 707-431-7433. Bread delivered Wednesday-Sunday.
• Bluxome Street Winery- Meet Market. 53 Bluxome St, San Francisco. Monthly, event details: http://www.bluxomewinery.com/53b-affa....

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  1. I've noticed this space recently, it was a rather incompetently run bakery/lunch place that I stopped into a handful of times last year, The Sweet Life, I think.
    Anyway, they closed recently and I wondered what would happen to the space -they put a lot of work into it and the kitchen prep area is rather large.
    Good to know something promising has opened there. This end of SA Ave suffers, and the whole street seems to shut down in the evenings/on the weekends. We could use more good places out here. I will try to drag my husband there today or tomorrow.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rabaja

      Yes, Marin seems to have less than its fair share of good places to eat. For whatever reason, bakeries seem to be the exception to the rule.

      Here's more about the soup course and the accompanying Gorgonzola toasts on the levain.

      (And please do check out Chowhound's newish Cheese Board.)

    2. Thanks; great to know that they opened in the defunct Sweet Life space. I found Sweet Life good to mediocre, depending on the item, and quite expensive. I only went a few times. I'll see if I can get to M. H. Bread & Butter today (Sunday).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

        M. H.'s blog (under the "news" tab on the homepage) says a little more about taking over from Sweet Life.

        Your old post,

      2. I went to M.H. Bread & Butter today and had their Vanilla Brioche, Croissant, and Croque Monsieur (without ham). The Vanilla Brioche ($3.80) had excellent vanilla flavor, but was on the dry side for me; it would have been better heated with butter. The Croissant ($3.50) was excellent, probably as good as croissants get. The Croque Monsieur (without ham, $8) - they may have called it a Croque Madam; not sure - was an excellent interpretation of that French classic, this one including asparagus, made with a slice of their Country Bread. There were also samples of bread available, but by the time I tried the bread I had eaten too much so won't try to report on the bread; I'll leave that for someone else. Also, about the time I was leaving they put a strawberry-with-rhubarb creation in the display case; it was beautiful but alas, I just couldn't eat any. This is the real deal, so please go there and report back on other things.

        A few photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/mhbreadbutter

        1 Reply
        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

          So pleased to read a happy customer's report! Glad the promise pans out.

          A croque madame would have an egg.

        2. No more driving to SF and waiting in line at just the right time on just the right day for a Tartine country loaf!
          MHB&B's country loaf is at least the equal of what we've had from Tartine lately! More like what we used to get when Chad was baking out in Pt. Reyes. Small, medium and large loaves baked twice a day!! The epis and the olive bread were fine, too. Dark and crusty, just the way we like 'em. Also tasted a delicious croissant dough cardamom confection. Great!!

          5 Replies
          1. re: gumbolox

            Do you know the approximate time the bakes come out?

            1. re: wally

              Just heard them mention that there would be 2 bakes a day.Didn't get the details, but on one morning visit and one afternoon visit, fresh bread was available without reservation. I'll find out more next time.

              1. re: gumbolox

                Thanks, i have traveled after a three day reservation to the Mission after 4:45 so less work would be great. I will try later this week.

            2. re: gumbolox

              I value all opinions and want to hear more. But I'll say that I especially wanted to hear from you, gumbolox, exactly because of your familiarity with Robertson's early product and the ensuing Tartine years to draw a bead on just how good this new spot is.

              I hope we'll hear more about any other worthwhile stops in San Anselmo to fill in our trips for bread.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks for the shout out, Melanie. Went to the Wednesday night Churrasco dinner at Mateo's Cucina Latina in Healdsburg this week and wound up talking with Mateo about our first taste of Chad's bread at Manka's when Mateo was chef there back in the 90's.
                By the way, the Currasco platter of slow wood roasted lamb, duck, and pork was great,accompanied by a nice bunch of local vegetables and quite reasonable at $25. Two of us made a tasty meal of that and an order of guacamole with pumpkin seed crackers and a couple of cocktails!

            3. The bread is great, wonderful flavor, good crumb (chew) and great crust. I got a country loaf, a whole wheat loaf and a croissant. The whole wheat is an excellent levain.I don't eat many croissants,so no comparisons, but the crust shatters and it had great flavor.

              1. On a second visit to the Healdsburg Shed, I sat down inside for a sandwich layered on the grilled country loaf slice. Magic. And more than six different kinds of loaves are for sale there.

                And Tasting Table featured the bakery yesterday with the news that the lunch and dinner menu would debut this week.

                1. Extremely good bread, big loaves. I got mine at Petaluma Market.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: poot

                    Good to know distribution has grown. Just checked the website and here's the update:

                    Where to find MHBB bread (Bread delivered Wednesday-Sunday most locations)!

                    Healdsburg Shed 25 North St Healdsburg, CA 95448 707-431-7433.
                    Belcampo Meat Company: 2405 Larkspur Landing Cir Larkspur, CA 94939
                    Petaluma Market: 210 Western Ave, Petaluma, CA 94952
                    Peter Lowell’s Restaurant: 7385 Healdsburg Ave #101, Sebastopol, CA 95472
                    Farmhouse Local: 25 Ward St, Larkspur, CA 94939
                    Farmshop: 2233 Larkspur Landing Cir, Larkspur, CA 94939

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I went to MHBB and was floored by the bread. I told the bakery manager at Petaluma's Whole Foods about this and he contacted them and they will soon be in the Petaluma Whole Foods.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Petaluma Market dropped them. Petaluma whole Foods now carries.

                        1. re: lamoufette

                          Picked up some at Whole Foods yesterday. The sliced nine grain is expensive at $8 but fantastic for toast.

                          I was in the Bakery week before last and asked about the bread no longer being carried at Petaluma Market. They told me they were still supplying Petaluma Market.

                          1. re: MikeW

                            Nope. The bread has not been available at P Market for months now.

                    2. I went back today and had their Chorizo & Cheese Scone ($3.75). It was excellent in flavor and texture, as I expected, including some chilies for a bit of heat.

                      This photo and the next are of the scone.


                      1 Reply
                      1. We did make it over here a handful of times this summer, forgot to report back.
                        Ive loved pretty much everything we've gotten and the staff has been very friendly and enthusiastic.

                        Had the smoked trout sandwich once, and the trout again as a salad over Bloomsdale spinach. The salad was perfect and gave me a healthy post partem lunch option that I could eat one-handed.
                        My husband had the pork loin sandwich twice and seemed very happy with it.
                        We've gotten cookies, quick breads and bread to take-away. The banana bread was particularly good and their breads are a nice option more akin to Della Fattoria -we've been buying Rustic's sliced wheat, MH's are more hearty loaves.
                        We tried a chocolate-apricot tartlett once, the filling was smooth and dense, no apricot to be found, but I think this was a signage issue. It was an attractive looking dessert that I could see bringing to a dinner party if I ran out of time to make my own.
                        I keep thinking we should stop by and eat dinner on the patio before summer is over. Last I checked, main courses were around $14, which is a pretty good deal for any decent take-out options in these parts. -of which there aren't many!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rabaja

                          Thanks for talking up the lunch options. I haven't made it there yet, and taking the time for a meal would be so much the better.

                          1. re: rabaja

                            Monday & Wednesday thru Saturday 7am to 4 pm
                            Closed on Tuesday
                            Sunday 8 am to 3 pm
                            - Breakfast from 7 am to 11 am
                            - Lunch served weekdays from 11 am - 3 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

                            I was disappointed that the smoked trout sandwich wasn't offered today and was very tempted by the Cured Wild Salmon sandwich $12 on toasted brioche with herbed fromage blanc, shaved radish and cucumber, lemon creme fraiche. The pork loin sandwich with spiced apricot, braised collards, pickled mustard seeds, and aioli $11 is also calling my name.
                            Arriving at 10:30 am, I had time to enjoy the kouign amann with a cup of coffee. The KA here is very large and more flaky croissant-like with less caramelized buttery goodness than I anticipated. We are enjoying the small loaf of Country-style bread $6 with its chewy dark crust and great flavor/texture at home. Big loaves are $9.
                            This is a great stop in San Anselmo for breakfast/lunch.
                            My lunch companions opted for a later afternoon lunch of mussels/frites, fattoush, and a salad of heirloom tomato and chicken at Insalata that was perfectly delicious at 2:30 pm.

                            Today's Lunch menu at MHB&B:
                            SOMETHING DIFFERENT:
                            Spinach Cake: herb salad, radish, buttered crostini $10
                            Chicken Terrine: avocado, marinated beets, pickled shallot, country bread $12
                            Green Couscous: mint, sheep feta, toasted pistachio, arugula, roasted carrots $11

                            also offered: SANDWICHES, SALADS & SOUP, THINGS TO START

                            Bay Area Bites: http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/20...

                          2. Ate lunch there today and had their Chicken Terrine: avocado, marinated beets, pickled shallot, country bread $12. It was only one of the best food items I've ever had. Great flavor in the chicken terrine itself, and then the pickled shallots, avocado, and beets all worked perfectly together as did the bread. Sheer genius.

                            Better photo: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/files/WP_20...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                              I knew I wanted the chicken terrine on Thursday when I read SOMETHING DIFFERENT on the MHB&B menu.
                              I must get back to San Anselmo before the next menu change. Also, we need another loaf of the Country bread. ;^)

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                Lunch with friends on Wednesday: sharing the roasted trout salad, pork loin sandwich, and the chicken terrine; enjoying this fine October weather seated outdoors under umbrella. All dishes were delicious; chicken terrine was the fave.

                            2. I finally made it out to M.H. today to get some bread and cookies for the weekend. They had samples of the Country Loaf out, so I bought a small one as well as some cookies: chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and oatmeal. All the cookies were unbelievably good and not too sweet. I also bought a piece of the Basque cake but haven't tried it yet. Everyone is really friendly, and the place is very airy and pretty. I can't wait to eat there. On the way out I tasted a sample of their caraway rye bread, and it was, by far, the best I have ever had - very flavorful with a crispy crust. I almost turned around to buy a loaf, but didn't. I've regretted it all day!

                              1. Another lunch winner today, this time Cured Wild Salmon (house cured) with herbed fromage blanc, pickled red onion, tomato & caper salad, and country bread. Another wonderful meal, like the Chicken Terrine, with "sides" of impeccable quality that added much to the whole experience.

                                I couldn't leave without having a Chocolate Almond Croissant, another best-of type.


                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                  A friend and I had lunch there on Friday. She had the wild salmon sandwich, and I had the chicken terrine. The terrine was excellent, but I had a taste of the salmon sandwich which was unbelievable. I'm already planning to get that next time. I also bought a loaf of their brioche which was delicious. My husband inhaled the chocolate chip cookies I brought him.

                                  1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                    I'm salivating over your photos! Makes me very excited to see their case during the holidays.

                                    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                      Similar lunch winner today, the Lemon Cured Trout Board with herbed fromage blanc, pickled red onion, avocado, radish & caper salad, seeded spelt bread. I moved from one thing to another around the board with flavor hits from each item. Finished off with one of their amazing chocolate chunk cookies.


                                      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                        Damn. Missed the chocolate croissant. Next time!

                                        My sister and I dropped in Saturday morning. We saw the cured fish platter (that day it was "lemon-cured trout") and it looked fabulous. Everything looked fabulous. We got the cardamom knot (cardamom a little too subtle for my taste) and the "three breads, three butters" which was awesome and an insane bargain. For $3.75 we got a board with two lightly toasted pieces of three different breads: country bread, seeded rye and brioche and three different butters: a good quality plain butter, a two compound butters, one with mild jalapenos and one with quince paste.

                                        I have to say, though, that the really outstanding bread I had on Saturday was whatever baguette they were serving with the cheese and charcuterie platter at the Cowgirl Creamery Cantina (one item on the menu specifies Della Fattoria, but I don't know if all the bread they use is from there).

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Went back with my family and tried the chocolate croissant. None of us were thought much of it, and in fact, among six of us we didn't finish it. Even though it was well-browned, I found it to be flabby and not at all buttery. I also didn't care for the kouign amann: even though it was quite dark in appearance it didn't have much Maillard-reaction produced butteriness or caramelized sugar. I'm now officially unimpressed with the pastries there. Love the breads, though. And the trout plate was fabulous.

                                      2. Went back twice this weekend. Have really enjoyed sitting outside and the food has been tasty.
                                        Yesterday I had the granola with a cappuccino. It was a nice mix of nuts, oats and dried fruit. A nice ratio of Strauss yogurt, house made strawberry preserves and freshly sliced apples and red grapes balanced out the plate.
                                        This morning we were three adults, and together we had the beans on toast ,fried egg sandwich, the avocado toast with sea salt and olive oil and a side of bacon.
                                        Everything was very good to great, although the bacon is a little thin and came fairly greasy on the plate. Small quibble.
                                        I loved the thickly cut bread my avocado came on.
                                        We split a chocolate eclair and I got a slice of flourless chocolate cake to bring home. I really like their selection of baked goods. It's such a step above the offerings at Rustic or Comforts, both of which I have gotten in the past. Rustics was a regular thing, but this will be competing with that urge for sure.
                                        If only MHBB did steel oats or oatmeal.
                                        We want to go back soon for the French toast as they'd sold out by noon.
                                        Very friendly staff who were happy to let us linger with our baby and enjoy the sunshine.

                                        1. Yum Yum Had lunch today. It was delightful and delicious! I had the Beluga lentil soup with a prosciutto broth, carrots and a bit of celery and topped with fresh chives. It was served with toast- great bread as so many others have said. My hubby had a the "Green" couscous with arugula, feta, pistachios. Great also. We also had one Jumble cookie- good not too sweet and the butterscotch cookie which was a bit too sweet because of the sweet chips. If I lived nearby, I would rush back! Bought some country bread to bring home.

                                          1. Another lunch there today, this time their Guajillo Chili Beef Stew with cornbread & jalapeno butter, radish, pickled carrot, cilantro & pepita salad. It was as good as it sounds, although I think the bread was something other than cornbread. My lunch companion had the Brioche French Toast, couldn't finish all of it, so I had it for dessert and proclaim it the best French Toast I've ever had.

                                            Photo of the Guajillo Chili Beef Stew:

                                            1. Another visit to MHBB today. I had the Shakshuka - spiced tomato sauce, peppers, sheep feta, poached eggs with andouille sausage (optional). Finished off in the oven, it was another winner with wonderful flavors including a bit of heat. Their great country bread and a very nice green salad with vinaigrette also added a lot.


                                              1. Another lunch at MHBB today, the Chicken and Asparagus Pot Pie. It was the best chicken pot pie I've ever had, which by this time is not a surprise.

                                                Two photos of it, this one and the next one.

                                                1. I've now tried the chicken, fried egg/bacon, beet sandwiches and cheese mushroom toast and the hands down winner was the beet. Inspired combo of flavors on their great levain. Kouign amann was too bready, however.

                                                  1. Am in Marin for a few days and IMVHO that levain with Mclellands dairy butter made me feel l was back in Paris.
                                                    It was as good as it gets.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                      welcome to Calif, Stefan. the local tomatoes have just begun to hit their stride, along with the stone fruits. thank you again for your hospitality. let us know via e-mail if there's something we can help you find in the area. au revoir.

                                                    2. Make sure you order the countryloaf well cooked or bien cuit.
                                                      The one bought yesterday while looking dark on the outside was flabby crusted and the insides was dense, no holes, and wet, very undercooked.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        Hi there DCM, I rise in defense of my home town product. The multiple similar loaves we have bought there have never had this problem. Could it simply be that this bread does not transport well in checked baggage cross country? By the way, does bread generally travel well in such conditions? -- Jake

                                                        1. re: Jake Dear

                                                          As l said the bread crust might have been compromised if it was hot when put in paper then cloth bag for the trip, but it was not.
                                                          It was the interior that was really faulty, quite undercooked thus no holes and utter heavy denseness.
                                                          Will it stop me from buying there, of course not, but will be a bit more careful in my selection.
                                                          It was some of best bread found in US on earlier visits but as the staff is all seemingly 15 YO, l could ask no one to give me the most cooked loaf as while nice, they were not overly bread savvy that l could discern.

                                                          And while completely off topic, the restaurant Sushi Ran in Sausalito was fabulous.

                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                            Salut again DCM, Okay, better luck next time, and there will be a next time. I have to agree that I have never had the impression that the person selling me bread there really knew very much about it. And Sushi Ran -- indeed it is excellent. -- Jake

                                                      2. OMG finally I've had brilliant rye bread in the Bay Area.
                                                        M.H. is the winner hands down. It has a robust flavor, great crust... at $9 a loaf it's pricey, but it's also significantly larger than most loaves.

                                                        I had them pre-slice it, which I would not do again -- I like thinner slices.

                                                        ps- Nothing special about the croissant IMHO. And the buckwheat cookie was a fun idea, but was just bland. I will save my buckwheat need for the buckwheat scone at "Companion Bakery" in Santa Cruz.