It’s not unusual for dinner guests to walk into our open kitchen at the end of a meal, happy and full, to thank the culinary team for preparing such special plates of food for them. We love it when this happens, and when new patrons give us superlatives like, “Chef, that was the BEST bread I have ever tasted. No, I mean it - the BEST.” Mike Whisenhunt, Brimmer & Heeltap’s head chef, always smiles and thanks these guests before getting back to work; it never ceases to amaze him, or any of us really, how something as simple and familiar as bread can be such a powerful part of one’s dining experience.
One of the things that defines us as a restaurant is our refusal to take shortcuts. It would be really easy (and probably still tasty) to serve sliced, room-temperature bread and butter to our guests. But for our Chef and his team, opting for the easy route takes the fun out of it completely. Instead, we ask ourselves questions like How can we make something as comforting and delicious as bread taste even better?
The answer to this question is actually pretty simple. By using the best ingredients available to us and putting just as much love into the preparation of this fantastic snack as we do everything else, the bread we serve becomes an instant favorite of new guests and regular diners alike. If you’ve ever noshed on our bread – thick cut, buttered, toasted to order, and garnished with a sprinkling of salt and pepper – you know that it doesn’t really get any better than this. After Seattle Met’s Senior Writer Kathryn Robinson tried it for the first time, she wrote that “if it’s not the wickedest thing you’ve put in your mouth all day, then you’re living the dream.” We’ll cheers to that.
To prepare the bread for our guests, the culinary team first cuts a 1 ½-inch-thick slice from the Como loaves we source from Grand Central Bakery. Next, the slice is slathered with Plugra, a slow-churned, deliciously creamy European-style butter, before being placed under the broiler. The thick slice takes about ten minutes to toast. Once ready, the hot, crisp piece is dusted with fresh cracked black pepper and salt – finishing touches that help elevate this bread experience.
During brunch, guests are given not one, but three different ways to experience our bread: the classic buttered version, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, or slathered with our homemade peanut butter frosting and seasonal jam. Chef Mike gets this incredible glimmer in his eye whenever guests order his take on PB&J; he knows they are in for a serious treat.
To eat the bread, one must use a steak knife to cut into its thick, crispy crust. Doing so reveals the butter-soaked layers of soft bread underneath, warmed beautifully and seasoned to perfection. It’s a massive slice, so it really is best shared among friends.
At Brimmer & Heeltap, breaking bread both symbolically and literally embodies a ritual that is deeply important to us. We like the notion that sharing a meal with your dearest friends, or partner, or parent can start with a simple slice of bread and become something so much more significant than that. We like how comforting and transportive food can be. We’re thankful for the feedback we receive from our guests, and we’re proud that for some of them, our thoughtfully prepared bread is the most comforting, superlative-worthy thing they’ve tried in a while.
We can’t wait to break bread with you soon.
Author: Caitlyn Edson
Images: Will Foster Photography