Dining With Denise reader Mallory Chambers speaks for a city of bread lovers, a community of carb cravers.
When I asked readers recently to name their favorite pre-meal restaurant bread basket, she replied via Facebook – not with a nomination but with a succinct declaration.
“I’ve never seen so many people all at once put so much thought into bread,” she wrote. “I feel so at home. My people.”
Those are my people, too, and plenty of them responded to my request to name the best free bread that local restaurants bring to the table before the meal. Readers named rolls, loaves, biscuits and slices, many of which, they noted, are served hot with flavored butter, dipping oil and/or pesto.
Peruse this list of yummy, yeasty nominees, some of which could lead you to a new favorite restaurant as well.
Texas Roadhouse’s yeast rolls: The most-mentioned breads in my unscientific poll were the yeast rolls at Texas Roadhouse, 6707 W. Kellogg. The popular chain steak restaurant is famous for bringing its diners baskets of hot-from-the-oven, pillowy yeast rolls that it serves with a side of whipped honey-cinnamon butter. If all the copycat recipes posted online are to be believed, honey is the secret ingredient in the dough and gives the rolls their sweet flavor. “The rolls from Texas Roadhouse are my absolute favorite,” said fan Mandy Bowen. “I always ask for extra and eat them for breakfast.”
Doo-Dah Diner’s monkey bread: It’s sweet. It’s sticky. And it’s just what you need to expand your stomach before your megasized crab cakes Benedict arrive at your table at Doo-Dah Diner, 206 E. Kellogg. Chef Patrick Shibley makes Doo-Dah Diner’s famous monkey bread by dredging dough in butter, cinnamon and sugar, baking it, then drenching it in caramel sauce. “We call it a little ‘somethin’-somethin’ to get your taste buds going while you wait for your meal,” said co-owner Timirie Shibley. The monkey bread is served daily until it runs out, usually around noon or 1 p.m., depending on crowds.
Carrabba’s crusty loaf with herb-olive oil dip: The bread from this Italian chain at 3409 N. Rock Road also got several nominations. Carrabba’s puts out a basket of its crusty, rustic bread, which is served warm with a side of olive oil seasoned with parsley, rosemary, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. “Carrabba’s bread and olive oil with their Sangria – that’s my meal,” said Cindy McVicar.
Genova Italian Restaurant’s yeast rolls: This Newton restaurant, which opened a little more than a year ago at 1021 Washington Road, earned several mentions from readers for its yeast rolls, which are almost pretzel shaped and served table side with a Mediterranean dipping oil mixed with balsamic vinegar, onion, garlic and other spices. Manager Rosie Martin says she makes the bread fresh every morning. “Their rolls with dipping oil are amazing,” said reader Julie Colborn. “You must check them out. All of their food is outstanding.”
Mediterranean Grill/Le Monde’s buttermilk biscuits: Wichita loves the crumbly, sweet buttermilk biscuits served at both Le Monde, 602 N. West St., and Mediterranean Grill, 335 S. Towne East Drive. It appears they were introduced to Wichita by chef Youssef Youssef, one of the founders of both restaurants. The two restaurants now use slightly different recipes. Le Monde’s have more of an exterior crunch, while Mediterranean Grill’s are a bit more soft. But both have legions of fans. “I don’t know what they are, but I refer to them as buttermilk biscuits,” said Traci Walker of Mediterranean Grill’s biscuits. “They have a secret ingredient that make them way above the rest.”
Larkspur loaf: Diners at this upscale eatery at 904 E. Douglas in downtown Wichita are treated to a megaslice of rustic bread, served piece-by-piece from a basket that waiters bring to the table along with a little plate of olive oil for dipping. The bread is made by Delano Bakery, which named it the “Larkspur loaf.” (People also can buy the Larkspur loaf at Delano Bakery’s kiosks at local farmers markets.) Larkspur’s oven turns this near-perfect bread into total nirvana, producing an extra-crunchy crust and a soft doughy middle.
Logan’s Roadhouse: This steakhouse chain, which has Wichita restaurants at 353 S. Rock Road and 2424 N. Maize Road, also serves buttery yeast rolls with a side of (what else?) butter.
Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay biscuits: Red Lobster’s savory biscuits might be the most celebrated bread items in the country. They’re buttery, cheesy and served in plentitude, and in some cases, they’re a bigger draw than the seafood. Wichita’s Red Lobster restaurants are at 555 S. West St. and 333 S. Towne East Drive.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill’s panella loaf: Firebirds at 10096 E. 13th St. North is famous for its Italian panella loaf, served whole on a cutting board with a provided steak knife and a side of butter. Reader Julie Hey described the crusty loaf as having “perfect crunch outside, perfect softness inside.”
Other favorite breads
Readers mentioned a long list of loved loaves. Here are a few of the others.
Outback Steakhouse honey wheat bread and butter, 233 S. Ridge Road and 2020 N. Rock Road
Olive Garden breadsticks, 323 N. Rock Road, 2641 N. Maize Road, 1718 N. Rock Road
Bella Vita Bistro bread basket with balsamic and olive oil for dipping, 120 N. West St.
Newport Grill bread with salted whipped butter, 1900 N. Rock Road
Town and Country yeast and cinnamon roll basket, 4702 W. Kellogg
Bonefish Grill warm bread and pesto dipping oil, 10250 E. 13th St. North
Savute’s fresh bread basket, 3303 N. Broadway
Greystone bread with Hawaiian sea salt butter, 9719 E. 21st St. North
Golden Corral dinner rolls, 616 S. Ridge Road, 11006 E. Kellogg
Stroud’s post-meal cinnamon rolls, 3661 N. Hillside
Cheddar’s honey croissants (not free but you can get three for $2.49), 11711 E. 13th St. North