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Breadline, 18th St. and Penn. Ave. Downtown - Sandwich Shop Now Owned by La Brioche Doree


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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

The Grill at Galileo gets a lot of attention here (justifiably so), but Breadline doesn't get enough. A "turkey sandwich" ($6.90) might sound unimaginative, but the one at Breadline reestablishes just how great and important a restaurant this is. The turkeys are roasted daily, and must surely be brined, because the meat is flavorful like Palena chicken is flavorful, and is offered up in thick, generous handcarved slices (a perfect mixture of white and dark meat) on the best focaccia roll in town. The sandwich is at its best topped simply with lettuce and mustard (tomatoes are not available off-season), and it stands as one of the truly great lunch items in all of Washington. And it's healthy, too!

Gobble one down and see for yourself,
Rocks.

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

From The Washington Post, an excerpt from the article entitled "Humble Sandwich Often Tops the Menu - Chains Try to Gobble Up the Market for Gourmet Lunch Fare" by Candy Sagon:

Washington baker Mark Furstenberg, who owns BreadLine near 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, has nervously watched in the past year as Potbelly, Quiznos and Corner Bakery have all opened within a block of his restaurant.

"It's hurt my business. We used to serve 975 customers a day, we are now serving 775," he said. Competing against the chains is difficult, he said, "because they have greater buying power [with suppliers], so they get better deals. They can also afford to operate at break-even, even at a loss sometimes, to increase their market power."

Never forget what just happened to Ann Amernick's bakery: AVOID THE BLOODSUCKING, EXANIMATE CORPORATE CHAINS.

Rocks.

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Citronelle too, If My Memory Serves Me Correctly.

I. Love. Breadline.

The fried cod sandwich is compulsory for me (as well as for two of my underlings whom I got hooked on the things) on Friday, and I try to get there at least one other day during the week. If you have even a passing interest in fish sandwiches, get over there! These are the fish sandwiches of the gods. My fillet last week must have been creeping up on an inch thick in the middle. :lol:

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

From The Washington Post, an excerpt from the article entitled "Humble Sandwich Often Tops the Menu - Chains Try to Gobble Up the Market for Gourmet Lunch Fare" by Candy Sagon:

Washington baker Mark Furstenberg, who owns BreadLine near 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, has nervously watched in the past year as Potbelly, Quiznos and Corner Bakery have all opened within a block of his restaurant.

"It's hurt my business. We used to serve 975 customers a day, we are now serving 775," he said. Competing against the chains is difficult, he said, "because they have greater buying power [with suppliers], so they get better deals. They can also afford to operate at break-even, even at a loss sometimes, to increase their market power."

Never forget what just happened to Ann Amernick's bakery: AVOID THE BLOODSUCKING, EXANIMATE CORPORATE CHAINS.

Rocks.

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Please offer recs for what to order...my husband has gone twice now and said he doesn't see what all the hype is about for a $7 sandwich! I did ask what he ordered, but I can't recall at the moment. I'll follow up when I find out. I read Don's post to him, and asked if he'd tried the turkey-- not so, and he agreed he'll give it another shot.

While taste is subjective, I'd like to know if anyone thinks I should recommend a different sandwich to him? :lol:

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Following the suggestion/direction of our forum host on my last visit I ordered the turkey sandwich. It was a huge disappointment. The turkey was watery and tasteless. It only had chunks of dark meat. It made the bread watery too. I ended up taking out the meat and eating a $7 lettuce sandwich. Needless to say I was quite unhappy.

Try the tuna.

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I am a fan of both turkey (preferably in summer to have tomatos too) because of the combo of thick slices of carved white and dark meat turkey with spicy mustard that make it feel like a great Thanksgiving leftover sandwich and the pork bbq with coleslaw because of the great tangy zip the vinegar and crunch of the slaw add to the sandwich. I have not liked their gazpacho but that is personal preference and not poor execution. They serve a chunky style and I prefer a smooth puree with blended flavors.

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* Fried cod (Friday special) see above. This is basically why I go to work Fridays, because I might as well be in the city since there is no Breadline in Arlington, and I'd just end up Metroing in anyway.

* The reuben (Tuesday special). Oooh, Reuben.

* Toast Tite (everyday). Made with a variety of Italian cheeses, it's the best $7.00 grilled cheese you're likely to have.

* Sausage sandwich (everyday). Good sausage sandwich. What's not to like? Also comes as a pizza or piadine.

* Tuna (everyday). I probably wouldn't have tried it except for Hillvalley's recommendation on eGullet. It's great!

* Spicy Chicken Dahlia (Wednesday or Thursday special): Little weird, but I like it. More sandwiches need peanuts and fried plantain.

* Salami!

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Crusty's got a crunchy-looking stack of matzo in the display case with a big note saying Order NOW for the weekend.

And damn. The chicken dahlia was good on a wintery day, but when it's sunny and sweaty outside, it's _good_: Chicken with more taste than my napkin and onions carmelized into candy, both layered with peanuts and a sauce that has just just enough kick that you eat through your best intentions to save half for tomorrow, because the pleasure of the next bite anesthetizes the pain of the last one.....

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I, and everyone who was at my Seder table, now bow down the master of all things matzah.

Furstenberg is a genius. This week of eating cardboard from a box will be that much harder because I now know what matzah can be. Crusty's matzah is what all others should strive to taste like. Crisp, flavorful (yes, matzah, full of flavor, who knew?) with beautiful air bubbles dotting the large round pieces. A hint of salt lingers after each bite.

Thank you babka

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The Case for Mark Furstenberg as Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic

Mark Furstenberg is arguably the most influential chef in the history of Washington, DC. An impossible combination of Popeye, Alice Waters and The Soup Nazi, he betrays his gruff demeanor by letting his considerable charitable actions quietly resonate throughout the community. Several weeks ago, he rallied the most famous chefs in Washington together for a Tsunami-relief benefit held at his restaurant. He is almost single-handedly responsible for the introduction of world-class bread to the region, and his is the only name that affects each-and-every diner at Washington's two best restaurants, Citronelle and Maestro. Breadline is a bastion of strength near The White House, a last gasp of artisanal quality and craftsmanship in an area being overrun by faceless corporate chains completely devoid of any humanity or meaning. He will not serve tomatoes in the wintertime, and if you want a cola with your meal, your only choice will be one from a local microbrewery. Nowhere in all of Washington, DC will you find a better lunch than at Breadline - it isn't open for dinner, but many other nominated restaurants aren't open for breakfast or lunch. Walk into Breadline and you'll see a broad cross-section of America at work, all of whom are friendly, efficient and obviously motivated by this great pioneer who has been inexplicably overlooked for this award in the past, probably because nobody ever thought of him as a "chef." He defines the term, however, and would be a terrific choice for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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mmmhhh--had the prosciutto, gorgonzola and fig jam sandwich and it was a great choice! Then I bought some matzoh to take home, and proceeded to gnosh on that :lol: (somebody...take...it...away...before...I...eat...the...whole...thing...)

Everyone in my office who walked in the kitchen asked what it was, as it doesn't resemble any traditional matzoh. But boy did they like it. As hillvalley said, there is that hint of salt that lingers after every bite--but I also detected a hint of butter. For those of you who like to smather butter on the good ol' boxed matzoh, this stands on its own quite well.

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Oh, and I found out one of the sandwiches my hubby had that was so disappointing--it was the same one I had! It seems he was given a very skimpy amount of the proscuitto, which in my mind would definitley throw off the balance of taste, and make me also wonder why I would be paying $7 for a few measly pieces of ham. Since it seems he's been burned twice, I'm still working on him to give it another try...guess I'll try to get over there again next week to sample some more so I can convince him to go get it for himself!

(He did approve of the matzoh--how couldn't he? That stuff is the best!)

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I had the tuna w/ Moroccan spices for lunch today, and, unfortunately, it was really soggy - like so soggy I needed a fork to finish it because it was just falling all over the place. I think they sliced the olive bread too thin, but from the second I picked it up it was just sagging and dripping all over the place. Disappointing. :lol:

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I had the tuna w/ Moroccan spices for lunch today, and, unfortunately, it was really soggy - like so soggy I needed a fork to finish it because it was just falling all over the place. I think they sliced the olive bread too thin, but from the second I picked it up it was just sagging and dripping all over the place. Disappointing.  ;)

Yeah, the olive bread seems to have issues supporting the tuna and egg salad sandwiches. They need to either slice it thicker for these or pack it well onto a sturdier baguette. But lordy, that prosciutto... :lol:

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So I realized that I'm a food lover and craver of ethnic cheap eats when I held off breakfast and rushed over to Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan this morning at 11am (right when they open) to get a taste of their great, fresh friend bites of chickpea bliss.

This place is great, haven't found any other place in DC with really fresh falafel made to order with a great fixins bar of sauces and salads like you find in the Mid East and apparently Amsterdam. As others have mentioned they have great fries too which go great with their killer garlic cream sauce (good on the falafel too).

In light of my mid-morning falafel hunt, I wanted to start this new topic to see what others people's great, ethnic sandwiches/cheap eats are? What is that unusual cheap ethnic delicacy that you could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and still go out for at midnight?

The 'Spicy Chicken Dhalia' at Breadline* still consistantly rocks my world: The one yesterday was definitely spicier than examples past. ohmy.gif

* For the purposes of this thread, can one HAVE an 'ethnic' sandwich at an establishment like Breadline?

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Anyone been on Thursday lately to see if they have the fried oyster po boy?

I was there maybe a month and a half ago. It was listed on their website, but when I got there, they had the soft shell crab in its place.

However, the next week they listed both the soft shell crab AND the po boy on their menu.

I really want to take an out of town guest there tomorrow for a po boy, and I'm hoping they'll have it.

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Breadline's chocolate cupcake is rich, gooey, not too fluffy/not too dense, chocolatey perfection. Truely a noble cupcake.

Also, I'd like to give them a shout-out for having Boylan's soda. I love Black Cherry, and the only time I can ever seem to get it is when I go back home to Super Duper Weenie.

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Also, I'd like to give them a shout-out for having Boylan's soda.  I love Black Cherry, and the only time I can ever seem to get it is when I go back home to Super Duper Weenie.

Sutton Place/Balduccis carries a lot of the Boylan's flavors including black cherry.

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Okay, so I love the idea of Breadline. I have been going at least once a week for the past few months. I am generally happiest when I get a smoothie and ciabata roll. When I order either a sandwich or salad I am 9 out of 10 times disappointed. Today's lunch was the last straw. Literally.

I ordered a grilled veggie piadine and a very berry smoothie. The veggies where not grilled, more like charred. Let's see, my office smells like something that survived a fire. Not even joking, someone just walked by and asked what I caught on fire.

I just threw out an $8 sandwich. I wish it were the first time I had not been able to eat something ordered at Breadline. The grilled cheese was a ridiculous combination of cheeses that only certain people would enjoy (especially on the semi-sweet brioche bread). The falafel was dry. The chicken with guac didn't have enough guac and the chicken was dry. The persian chicken salad had so much sauce the greens wilted/drowned.

Oh and I didn't even get my smoothie that I normally love because (1) the coffee area had not been stocked so the server had to go and get the juices required (2) since the juices were hot she had to add more ice and (3) when she tried to blend the smoothie with the additional ice the machine did not work. I told her not to worry about blending the extra ice. She tried to pour the concoction into a cup and it was a disaster. I told her not to worry about the smoothie (the line was out the door at this point) and just give me my money back. She asked for my receipt!!! Huh?

I want to love Breadline. I want to stand on the street corner and tell people they have to go and try the place. Why do I keep having such not great experiences at the place?

Sorry for the vent. It just had to get out

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I've had the rare burnt sandwich at Breadline, too. I think the grill gets behind on days when it's particularly busy or a mistake is made and throws things off. For example, I had the hot dog last Tuesday*, and it seemed to be taking a lot longer than it should be. I think we were waiting on rolls, but in the meantime, I'm standing there going insane watching the hot dogs burning on the grill. They finally bring a few rolls over and toast them, and sure enough half of the dog, and part of the bun, is burnt to a crisp.

Other than that the dog was pretty good. I think the chili (the other option is saurkraut) needs a more prominent flavor component...for now, it's just kind of there. I also think they need to make larger buns to accomodate the rather large dogs, rather than take the bun they have now and slice it completely in half! Personally, I hate it when the bun splits of even it's own accord, but at this point, the battle is lost before it has begun! Other than that, the hot dog is a fine addition to the Tuesday line-up. Grab lots of napkins.

*Sorry, forgot to mention: The hot dog is out!

Edited by shogun
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Looks like Breadline has added some new menu items featuring tomatoes:

TOMATO PIZZA

Our Delicious Pizza with these Delicious Tomatoes

(The tomatoes in question are pictured on the site)

BLT

Bacon, Lettucce and Tomatoes

TOMATO MOZZARELLA

Pesto Mayo, Fresh Mozzarella, Lettuce and Tomato

TOMATO CHEDDAR

W/ Lettuce and Veggie Mayo and White Crafton Cheddar

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from today's Front Burner chat...

Washington, D.C.: A couple of weeks ago, you wrote about the bread "crisis" at Marvelous Market. The story made it sound like they had worked thing out. But the bread was still not great. Last week I noticed signs at the Conn.AVe store saying The Breadline baguettes were there. I tried one, and they're like the "good" Marvelous Market baguettes. Do you know or can you find out what happened? And if they'll be there for a while. Thanks.
Judith: It's confusing, I agree. Both Marvelous Market and the Breadline folks confirm that all the MM stores are now getting Breadline baguettes. But the quantities are limited. If my experience is any indication, that means it's a good idea to get there early to get one. So far, no explanation from MM about the permanence or not of this arrangement. I've put in a call to see if Uptown is still working on a baguette, or for that matter what the status of the other breads is, and will post their answer if I get it in time. In the meantime, MM will have the "real" MM baguettes that Mark Furstenburg developed. F., incidentally, describes them as neither sour not sweet. They're "mixed" he says, with a tiny bit of sour and a tiny bit of yeast. A completely sourdough baguette, he says, means a tough crust.
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Tomato season has arrived at Breadline, and with the heat wave over and gone, I trekked over there for lunch today. I had the BLT, which was on wheat bread, and my friend had the Tomato and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich. In structural composition, it was the same as any other, with the aforementioned ingredients of BLT and some nice creamy (but not overpowering) mayo. The bacon was just right with a little crispiness on the edges; the lettuce was just some chopped iceburg, and the wheat bread held it all together quite well. But the real standout of the sandwich is the tomatoes, piled on three deep and melding together almost into a chunky paste of ripe, salty goodness.

As for my friend's sandwich, it had less tomatoes but plenty of cheese between two giant, texas toast-sized pieces of white bread. He liked it, but the bread looked a little too thick for my tastes.

The frites are still great (and under two dollars), and the peanut butter cookie contraption I had for dessert was tops. They take two cookies and, a la chipwich, smear a nice gob of what I presume to be Furstenburg-crafted peanut butter between them.

All this for ten bones, and the people-watching at the tables outside is gratis. Look! David Gregory from MSNBC! "Hey! David! What did Scott McLellan deny and when did he deny it ?!"

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I WANT to like Breadline as much as everyone else seems to like Breadline...I usually find praise on this site to be spot-on.

But my $7 BLT on wheat was BURNED, soggy with mayo, haphazardly slapped together, and not worth my time or my money!

I had this last Saturday and thought it was quite good, although that wheat bread is very absorbent and could be susceptible to sogginess from the tomatoes and mayo. (Also, a tomato and mozzerella sandwich was slathered with way too much pesto. Maybe they need to rein in their slathering a bit?)

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I WANT to like Breadline as much as everyone else seems to like Breadline...I usually find praise on this site to be spot-on.

But my $7 BLT on wheat was BURNED, soggy with mayo, haphazardly slapped together, and not worth my time or my money!

How was it burned? You mean the bacon? The bread isn't usually toasted is it? I thought it was a pretty outstanding sandwich when I had it. To make a sandwich too much better at home wouldn't cost that much less...and you'd still have to buy the whole loaf of bread.

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i am told by my wife that i can make much better sandwiches at home. she eats here frequently and reports wild inconsistencies and assembly line problems, including both burning and undercooking, though she keeps going back for more. i am going to have to check this place out. sounds like there's a lot worth trying to find.

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i am told by my wife that i can make much better sandwiches at home. she eats here frequently and reports wild inconsistencies and assembly line problems, including both burning and undercooking, though she keeps going back for more. i am going to have to check this place out. sounds like there's a lot worth trying to find.

What did she get that was undercooked? Can you be more specific about "wild inconsistencies?" What gets burned? And if that's all true, why do you think "there's a lot there worth trying to find?"

I'm a pretty decent sandwich-maker myself, but I don't have the time to make bread like they do, find the freshest ingredients like they do, and get me through a line in less than ten minutes like they do. Breadline isn't for everyone, thank God, but i'm a regular and it's not the mess you describe here.

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What did she get that was undercooked? Can you be more specific about "wild inconsistencies?" What gets burned? And if that's all true, why do you think "there's a lot there worth trying to find?"

I'm a pretty decent sandwich-maker myself, but I don't have the time to make bread like they do, find the freshest ingredients like they do, and get me through a line in less than ten minutes like they do. Breadline isn't for everyone, thank God, but i'm a regular and it's not the mess you describe here.

Capital Icebox,

Go back and read my posting. I went back once since my posting with a client (they chose) and all of our meals were fairly BAD. I refuse to patron a place that does not have quality control. And it is the mess the other post described. I even had a piece of chicken in the chicken salad that was not thoroughly cooked.

The bread is not consistently baked. Sometimes the crusts are overly thick and occassionally I have purchased loafs that did not stay fresh very long. I am not a fan of Breadline.

Nancy
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How was it burned? You mean the bacon? The bread isn't usually toasted is it? I thought it was a pretty outstanding sandwich when I had it. To make a sandwich too much better at home wouldn't cost that much less...and you'd still have to buy the whole loaf of bread.

The bacon was burned (and trust me, I don't mind crispy bacon--I do mind charred bacon that masks the flavor) and--though it wasn't toasted--the bread was burned as well (as in black crust). I don't know how that happened. Overall, just wasn't a happy camper. And I was really excited to try this place! I think I'll give it another go in the fall.
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I go to the Breadline almost every Friday for challah and the fried cod sandwich. I have never experienced anything other than pure yummy-ness with the cod sandwich. The cole slaw and remoulade sauce compliment the fried fish perfectly. Prior to eating this sandwich, I was not a cole slaw fan until I realized that what I had been eating before only posed as cole slaw...

I need to try to go to BreadLine on a day other than Friday, because otherwise, I can't bring myself to get anything else. Though, I did have the soft-shell crab sandwich once-- with the same remoulade sauce, I believe-- and it was also excellent.

The challah also makes for very good french toast for the weekend.

I also love the efficiency of the breadline. I've waited much longer for my food at Cosi, Corner Bakery, etc. ..and it doesn't hold a candle to the Breadline.

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The bacon was burned (and trust me, I don't mind crispy bacon--I do mind charred bacon that masks the flavor) and--though it wasn't toasted--the bread was burned as well (as in black crust). I don't know how that happened. Overall,  just wasn't a happy camper. And I was really excited to try this place! I think I'll give it another go in the fall.

Now we're talking -- specifics! Which the post I initially responded to was sorely lacking.

Edited to add: I was reffering to the "i am told by my wife that i can make much better sandwiches at home" post. Now who's not being specific enough? Me, I know. Sorry.

Fortunately, for those who don't care for Breadline, there's a wealth of other options in the area" PotBelly, Baja Fresh, Cosi, that guy with the hot dog stand...

Edited by Capital Icebox
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I go to the Breadline almost every Friday for challah and the fried cod sandwich.

The cod is the greatest sandwich ever.

As for this burnt question, I've only ever had one thing that was burnt out of a number of sandwiches so high I cannot even fathom : a hot-dog I discussed earlier. And I'm a fan of all manner of piadine, so it's not like I"m always getting 'raw' sandwiches. I'll agree that the BLT bread has a tendancy to get fairly soaked with sauce, though. Other than that, I can't say I've had anything there I didn't like, and by now, I've probably had just about everything. The pork BBQ didn't do much for me, but I'd give it at least another shot if it didn't coincide with Cod Day.

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Generally the piadine are fairly underwhelming (too few ingredients with charred flatbread), but the daily specials are pretty good most of the time. I'd stay away from the Toast Tite, as the cheeses don't really go with the sweet bread, but the chicken dalliah on Wednesdays--spicy, with peanuts!--is delicious. On a semi-related note, I really enjoy the soda selection there.

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