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Surprising Sandwiches (and Other Stuff)

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A late lunch at the Century City Mall’s Bread Bar proved quite refreshing. It’s Friday of Memorial Day Weekend and everything is jammed, but Bread Bar was pretty empty and we got seated right away. We ordered iced teas, a ham sandwich and some chicken soup. Everything was really good. I’ve heard that the salads come a little under-breaded for a place called the Bread Bar, and indeed, most of them seemed to come with a chip made from bread. I can see how that would be disappointing.

The ham in my sandwich (made with butter, radishes and cornichon pickles) was pretty average lunchmeat. But the combination of the radishes and pickles was inspired, not too spicey, and the butter a little creamy underneath. The bread was a showstopper, crusty and hearty. It had some kind of salt on it, which was a little overwhelming, in the one patch where it was dense, but was otherwise quite pleasing. It was a good crusty sandwich. The chicken soup was the opposite of the powdery, instant soup at some sandwich places (I’m looking at you, Panera!) It was full of vegetables a big chunks of chicken. It was good, different tasting without using something overpowering like fennel (I’m looking at you, Clementine!)

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The service was nice, but kind of slow. We had to signal for the dessert menu. We decided to forgo the listed treats for a petit pain au chocolat (or, roughly translated, a small chocolate croissant.) I am a huge fan of tiny pastries. This is largely because with small pastries (or cupcakes or pies or donuts) you can eat the whole thing. You don’t have to stop yourself at half (and take the chance that you will be compelled to eat it all.) One of the sources of obesity in this country comes from our outrageous portion sizes. If all pastries were small, (and indeed, all portions), we would all be more healthy. Instead, we’re a nation of fat cowboys (Isn’t that where big portions come from? The wild west, all that open space – right?)

The petit pain was wonderful, buttery and flakey, with a very wide, soft chunk of chocolate in the middle. There were none of the usual perils, that you end up with -- too much croissant and not enough chocolate, or that the chocolate is very hard. It was small and satisfying, much like the Bread Bar itself.

Bread Bar, 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Century City, CA 90067

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