Thorough Bread Bakery, San Francisco

San Francisco, as you may have heard, has quite a reputation for food. You can get all kinds of wonderful meals here (most notably brunch, which I will cover in a later post). But, what I especially value in a city’s cuisine is not just bigger meals, but the quality of more regular food. The meals you grab for lunch, eat alone, eat at work or straight from the wrapping. Affirming my love for this city is the availability of simpler foods prepared to incredible quality with real care. It’s appropriate, then, that my first San Francisco review is of a sandwich. (The humble Tuna Melt, no-less.)

Thorough Bread and Pastry is a fairly new bakery and café on Church Street. Small, but open and airy, with eye catching, elaborate bread-based window displays, it has real class whilst still being a friendly and welcoming little store. Inside is a massive selection of pastries, tarts, cakes and breads, all freshly prepared in front of you, on premises by some outstandingly talented bakers.

What’s made me recognisable there are the sandwiches. They offer eight, all of which are completely different, on different (fresh made) breads. Prepared in about five minutes, each one is something special.

The Blondie’s Pulled Pork was the first (actually, I ordered one on three successive visits before I could bring myself to order anything else). You can’t go wrong with barbecue, but it’s better than just that. Consider that the butter on the bread, melting into the warm pork, is absolutely right. A vital part of the flavour, not just moisture for the bread.

The roast beef is now (with amusing predictability) my favourite. The beef is fine (yeah, just ‘fine’), but the bread. Oh, the bread. It’s made on a fresh, warm, spongy granary bread that might be the best I’ve ever tasted. I could eat that bread on its own for days.

And then, as pictured above. A tuna melt. A tuna melt is perhaps one of the simplest sandwiches you can make. That triggers prejudice. You dismiss it because it’s simple. You’re ordering food, so of course you will have something fancier, or made with less trivial ingredients. Canned tuna; slice of cheese; dash of Worcestershire Sauce; microwave. Easy, right? Do it at home, surely? Sure. Tasty, too. Except. Except when the recipe begins by drizzling olive oil into the bread and toasting it on a hot plate. Then, there’s an extra mile being run to make an extraordinary sandwich.

Tuna mayonnaise is not so simple, and Thorough Bread’s tuna mayonnaise is amazing. Strong on herb and citrus flavours, the texture is fluffy and light; not stodgy. The result is flavour that tastes really fresh and jumps out.

Everything about these sandwiches has been carefully considered. Every single ingredient fits and complements the flavour. There’s care gone into these recipes that doesn’t go into some three course meals. And yet there it is, between two slices of bread.

Transforming a sandwich that’s easily taken for granted into a small meal to go out of your way for is a pretty fantastic achievement. In San Francisco, Thorough Bread are not alone in their fine artisan offerings. They are, however, my favourite.

Thorough Bread is at 248 Church Street (off Market), San Francisco

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