Good restaurants almost always offer a bread basket. It may come as part of the pre-emptive strike on appetizers, or as an accompaniment to the ordered soups and starters. For friends who are on low-carb diets, the bread basket is eeeviiiil! But that just means more bread for me!
I love a good bread basket, and a restaurant with good bread, usually made at the restaurant, earns points. The dips, spreads, toppings may vary, but here are my random choices for restaurants in Manila and the adjacent vicinity with darn good baskets:
* Tosca at the Dusit Nikko Hotel. Not all bread are made equal, and Tosca's breads are stratospherically wonderful. I would love to just order water at the restaurant if they'd plunk their bread in front of me. And it comes not in a woven basket but a ceramic white bowl. There is usually an assortment of bread - foccacia, grissini (and these aren't your stale crumbly sticks! They have flavor, they have texture, they make you want to be a grissini!), brioche, and a squid ink roll (black inside and out and hinting of the secrets of the sea). Made by their chef from Sardinia, these bread call to me at night. Accompanied by a selection of dips: garlic aoili, tapenade, tomato pesto, and olive oil/balsamic vinegar.
* Bohemia, Angeles. Made on the premises, the rye bread will floor you. Mild, yet full of rye, they'll serve slices of it to tempt you before the meal, and as a side dish to many of the main plates. It's so hearty, that one slice will be enough, so don't say I didn't warn you! The texture, the crumb, is well, chewy. You chew, your mouth is flooded with rye happy thoughts, and maybe you get that sense of being transported. Then you feel heavy so you're back grounded on earth again. Eat lightly, but try to buy a loaf to bring back with you. It will last months!
* Cantinetta. Sometimes they serve it and sometimes they don't. A bit frustrating, but I'm not always happy with the bread here. The one I like, the darker, wheat? bread makes a rare appearance, but when it does, I lavish it with the chicken liver spread. Or split it in half and have the tomato salsa on one half, the liver on the other. Then remember I have a heavy pasta meal on its way. Uh oh.
* Peninsula Lobby. Go there for the people watching, let me have your bread. On days when life seems to hit you in the gullet and nothing goes right, I will avoid disaster by heading to the lobby of the Pen, have my hot chocolate, and eat some bread. I can have the flat bread solo, but must have butter for the sesame roll, melting into the cavities, the perfect union of fat and carbs. A perfect escape even after being stuck in the bathroom.
* La Cabane. A recent discovery over the weekend, this place also has lovely, chewy, wheat bread and served with a small pot of butter. A bit of beurre. If the beurre weren't a wee bit too hard, the spoon on the side would have made sense. Otherwise, just dig in with your salad knife, lather like a bricklayer. No scrimping necessary.
Where do you go for your bread yearnings?