5 Places to Find Great Restaurant Bread

“Acorns were good until bread was found.” – Francis Bacon


Sourdough and Focaccia breads at Zambri's. Photos by Deanna Ladret

Who hasn’t planned their restaurant selection based on the quality of the complimentary bread basket? I know I have, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. More often than I’d care to admit I end up asking for seconds, wolfing that helping down, and then sheepishly asking the server to pack my entree to go because I’ve gotten too full.


In another strategy popular with young and struggling students/artists/skateboarders is the tactic of frequenting the best (free) bread restaurants, splitting a bowl of soup with a roommate for an affordable $2.50 each, then loading stomach, mouth, pockets and purse with as much bread as possible. This is probably not the scenario that restaurants are aiming for when they bake their own loaves, but at least it speaks highly of their product. Bread can often be unremarkable, but when it’s baked with a little TLC, there’s absolutely nothing better.


Pagliacci's Herb Focaccia

1) Pagliacci’s

I credit their house made focaccia baked in olive oil for keeping me alive for most of 2003, thanks to the manoeuvre described above (sorry Siegel family, I promise I’ve changed). Light as a feather, with a crunchy oil-baked crust scattered with rock salt and scented with rosemary, Pag’s bread has the power to derail the most fervent Lo-Carb dieter with a single bite.

1011 Broad Street, 250-386-1662, www.pagliaccis.ca



2) The Oak Bay Marina Restaurant

Another reason The Marina is one of my favourite restaurants in Victoria. Pastry Chef Brian Bradley’s bread tastes like it’s made from spun gold and kneaded by light-handed elves. A fitting segue into the excellent meal that’s sure to follow.

1327 Beach Drive, 250-598-8555, www.marinarestaurant.com


3) John’s Place

Due to popular demand, in addition to serving fresh slices with butter to hungry diners, John’s Place sells their splendid Herb Bread whole for takeaway. I once bought a loaf before work and ate the entire thing in one sitting. I didn’t regret it.

723 Pandora Ave, 250-389-0711, www.johnsplace.ca


Johnny Cake and Brunch Johnny Cake at The Reef

4) The Reef

Okay, so Johnny Cakes aren’t bread in the traditional sense, but I think we can bend the rules here. The Reef’s cornmeal biscuits are deep fried and served with mango coconut butter. Weekend brunch Johnny Cakes come stuffed with fruit (like banana or raspberry) and are rolled in cinnamon and brown sugar.

533 Yates St, 250-388-5375, www.thereefrestaurant.com 




5) Zambri’s

Bread Man Louis Vacca has mastered the art of the rustic Italian sourdough loaf: crusty and richly brown on the outside, soft and toothsome on the inside, molto bene! Everyone who dines at Zambri’s gets a few slices while they wait for their meal. Starting mid-January, a limited daily supply of whole loaves will also be available for purchase.

820 Yates St, 250-360-1171, www.zambris.ca


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