Beyond The Bread Basket

A list of creative alternatives to the carby, appetite-destroying breadbaskets found at most establishments.



As someone who actively tries to avoid bread, but who has no power against it, I have a difficult relationship with the traditional breadbasket. I love it and am thrilled that it has arrived, but at the same time I resent it for existing and causing me to consume unnecessary calories. So, when something other than a warm loaf of fresh bread arrives at my table, I welcome the opportunity to be free from the unhealthy relationship with bread and to indulge in something new. Here is a look at some restaurants that offer must-try complementary alternatives to the traditional breadbasket.

 

Cornichon Pots at Saint George Bistro, Hastings-on-Hudson

Saint George Bistro offers a little glass pot filled with small pickled gherkins, a traditional condiment for French dishes. The pickles are a tart and mildly sweet way to start your meal.

“As well as being delicious, the acidity is great for waking up your pallet, and makes you thirsty for another sip of your pre-dinner cocktail,” Saint George Bistro owner Jason Steinberg explains.

Steinberg decided to use cornichon after falling in love with Restaurant L’express in Montreal’s old section while on a trip seeking inspiration for Saint George. “L’express has this wonderful vibe and ambience. It’s the kind of place you can see existing 100 years ago, or 100 years from now. Timeless.” Using the cornichon pots was one way Steinberg incorporated that classic, timeless vibe into his own bistro.

 

Brunch Muffins at Sweet Grass Grill, Tarrytown

Sweet Grass Grill offers a basket of fresh mini muffins with their brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The muffins are always warm, fresh, and delicious, but the best thing about them is that they change with the season, or according to the chef’s whim.

Right now, Sweet Grass is serving a popover-like muffin made with fresh strawberries, white chocolate, and yogurt.

 

Mini Irish Soda Breads at Rory Dolan’s, Yonkers

These two-bite-sized soda breads are served year-round at Rory Dolan’s and perfectly compliment the Irish fare on the menu. The only problem is that it merely impossible to stop at just one.

 

Pretzel Sticks at Emma’s Ale House, White Plains

The pretzel bread trend may have come and gone, but at Emma’s Ale House has been serving these soft salty treats since they opened seven years ago. The pretzels are served fresh from the oven with spicy mustard.

 

Papadum at Jewel of Himalaya, Yorktown

Fotolia/Brad Pict

Himalaya’s papadum provides diners with a taste of traditional South Asian food before they decide on their order. The crunchy treat is a thin, cracker disc made with chickpea and lentil flour. It has an earthy flavor that provides the perfect base for the sauces with which it is served: fresh tamarind, dates, and raisin; onion with tomatoes; and a mint carrot sauce.

While Himalaya’s naan is not complimentary, it is definitely worth ordering after you’ve had your papadum. The naan is made fresh in-house, is served warm, and comes in three flavors: plain ($3); garlic, spinach, and onion ($4) and Himalayan, which is stuffed with cashew, almonds, cherry raisin, and coconut ($5).

 

Cotton Candy at WUJI, Scarsdale and Rye

Cotton candy is not served as a starter at WUJI, but it is a nice complimentary surprise so we included it in this list. Once you finish your fresh, organic Chinese dishes, the server brings over large fluffy cones of cotton candy to end your meal with something sweet and fun.


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