[DFW] Hot Breads
Hot Breads is an international chain bakery, fusing French baking and Indian flavors. Last weekend, I finally had a chance to swing by and size it up. It was well worth the trip. (The only DFW location currently open is on MacArthur in Irving, north a bit from Cool River Cafe. A larger one is under construction next door to Taj Mahal Imports at the intersection of Beltline and Central.)
The bakery's offerings are divided (more or less) into thirds. Wooden shelves hold whole loaves of various breads (including fruit cakes), while a long glass case is split between dessert items and savory pastries. The only seating consists of a few tables for two along one of the walls.
Savory pastries offered a variety of fillings/toppings. For meats, the options were chicken tikka, curried chicken, goat keema, and chicken hot dog (though it looks nothing like a traditional hot dog). For non-meats, paneer, spinach, aloo capsicum, egg/mint, and mixed veggies. To add even more variety, each flavor was offered in multiple formats. So you could get a chicken tikka Danish, croissant, mini-pizza, plait, bun, or puff. With all of those options, I was only able to try a few: chicken tikka Danish and croissant; curried chicken pizza and puff; goat keema croissant; chicken mayonnaise hot dog; and aloo capsicum bun. I was very pleasantly surprised by the bread quality across the formats. Even without considering the fillings, these were very good pastries (especially the croissants, buns, and Danish). But the fillings also surpassed expectations, all being good to very good (favorites being the curried chicken and goat keema). I only wish I'd had more room to try some of the other vegetarian offerings (especially since the aloo capsicum bun was one of the best items I had).
Desserts included fruit tartlets, cakes, mousses (chocolate and strawberry), and cookies. After the savory pastries, I didn't have much room for dessert. But I managed. I tried a slice of black forest cake--layers of cream and chocolate cake with a touch of coconut and shaved chocolate on top. The cream helped compensate for dryness in the cake, but didn't elevate it from mediocrity. (According to the clerk it is their most popular dessert.) Also tried an Irish creme coffee cake. This one was pretty good--light, smooth, moist, and creamy, with good flavors. (The clerk said it was their best dessert.) I also tried several cookies (sold by the pound): sugar, butter, almond, and two savory cookies (one masala and one with caraway seed). Cookies were light, crumbly, and understated in flavor. I took a half pound of the savory cookies with me and tried them out on a few friends and family members, drawing sharply divided reactions. None of the desserts were outstanding (though none were bad, either). But, given the price point, you can't expect too much. Speaking of price point, each pastry (savory and dessert) sold for either $1.25 or $1.50.
Given the unique format, quality savory pastries, and excellent value, this is one I'll be revisiting next time I'm in the Irving area. (And I look forward to the Beltline location opening in the near future.)
Last night, I went to the new location of Hot Breads in Richardson (next to Taj Mahal Imports). While the store is larger than the Irving location, the selection of pastries was smaller. Also, you can't see the baking area, whereas the Irving location has a open kitchen. I'm not sure if they're baking the pastries on-site there or not. Regardless, everything we got (curried chicken croissant, mixed veggie croissant, chicken tikka plait, goat keema bun, broccoli quiche) was stale in taste and texture. The lack of selection and staleness may have been simply because we went in the evening, rather than earlier in the day. (The visit to the Irving location was around midday.) If I go back to this one, it definitely won't be in the evening.
Speaking of breads, I just discovered that Pillsbury has a line of frozen "oven ready" *Indian* breads--naan, roti, etc. I've seen them in the freezer sections of two Indian markets in the past week (including Taj Mahal Imports). Haven't tried them yet. But, since I've always been pleased with Pillsbury's frozen rolls and biscuits, I imagine they're pretty good.
Unrelated to bread, I went to the Henry's Ice Cream store in Plano. Having had their ice cream at many restaurants in town over the years, I wondered whether it was different or better at their own location. I tried two flavors and, on both, the quality was indistinguishable from the product they sell to restaurants. While it supposedly has the highest milk fat content of any locally produced ice cream, I found the flavor and texture inferior to that of many of their competitors (even to the Marble Slab chain). They do have some interesting flavors available, though (e.g., green tea latte, Snickers, tin roof sundae, cinnamon, etc.). It's not the best in town (and, with their prices, definitely not the best value in town); but, if you're in the neighborhood, it's a good spot to get your ice cream fix.
Got to say, I visited the Richardson location on Saturday based upon this string of posts and was decidedly unimpressed. We only had sweets (almond meringue cookies, chocolate chip, almond butter cookie) and all were hard as a rock.
The breads did look good, but even though it's reasonably close I probably won't stop in again.