Reinventing the Breadbasket

One Philadelphia restaurant has designed its breadbasket to be its own extraordinary course

Bread Assortment from Fork's Bakery

Over time, the breadbasket has become an artform. From plain white rolls with butter, to focaccia with olive oil, or even to warm, fluffy raisin, olive, garlic, and whole grain rolls served on a golden cart with an assortment of butters, the sky is the limit for this traditional, pre-meal delight.

However, Chef Eli Kulp, Executive Chef for Philadelphia’s Fork Restaurant, believes that bread should not just be a one-time pleasure served at the beginning of a meal, but that it should be its own, stand-alone course. To turn his vision into reality, he decided to “reinvent” the breadbasket at Fork by serving an eclectic combination of breads and spreads to compliment dishes on each menu.

“In most restaurants, bread is an afterthought, but we believe guests should enjoy every last bite of their dining experience,” Chef Kulp said in a release. “Each day at Fork, we’re baking everything from our dinner rolls to our croutons.”

To give all customers the best bread service possible, Fork’s bakery first bakes fresh Bialys to be served with sea salt and hay-infused cream cheese, along with a Genzano-style bread to be serve with whipped salted butter.

After receiving the first breadbasket, guests will then decide if they want to dine off of the prix-fixe House menu or the shareable Whole Animal Feasts menu. Their next serving of bread depends on menu they choose.  

Diners who select the House menu will first receive an amuse bouche of a Philadelphia-style Soft Pretzel with “cheez whiz” and mustard. To follow, they will be served unique bread/butter combinations such as beet volkornbrot, a pumpkernickel rye sourdough with sunflower seeds, dehydrated roasted beets, and soaked rye berries with smoked beet butter; squid ink spongebread, (a naturally fermented, spongy bread) served with toasted seaweed butter; and Dry-Aged Beef Brioche made with butter and dry-aged beef fat and served with carrot and salted butter.

Guests who choose to go with the Whole Animal Feasts menu will receive Kummelweck Rolls with caraway seeds to compliment the Wagyu Short Rib Feast and the “light-as-air” Pita Pockets, designed to complement the Lamb Feast.

“Breads and rolls lend depth to a meal, accentuating the flavors of the dishes and – perhaps best of all – offering the opportunity to mop up every delicious morsel from the plate,” owner Ellen Yin said in a release.

The bread basket rarely, if ever, gets its fair due. Maybe other restaurants can take a cue from Fork and start thinking of it not as a bread basket, but as a bread course


Skyler Bouchard is a junior writer at the Daily Meal. Follow her on twitter at @skylerbouchard.