Bread. It is the Gwyneth Paltrow of the food world, as maligned as it is revered. Sometimes a side dish, sometimes a main meal, and the original muse to the Earl of Sandwich, who (allegedly) first discovered that slapping two slices together and stuffing things in between allowed him more mobile meals. Whether the main star of your Tuscan panzanella or the crusty complement to your Gorgonzola and chianti, its gluten-y goodness cannot be denied. We break it to symbolize a meaningful social interaction and tear it to sop up the white wine cream sauce of our moules marinières. Sometimes we use it to feed our local park’s duck population. (Don’t do that anymore; it messes with their insides.)
As the saying goes, the best things in life are free and the following free breads served at popular restaurants seem to fully support this happy adage.
A deluge of online copycat recipes speak to the popularity of Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits. In 2013, Red Lobster sold 395 million of these puppies a year, almost 1.1 million biscuits every day. They were born in the early 1990s, when executive chef Kurt Hankins conjured them as an alternative to the restaurant’s hush puppies. Served warm, these golden clouds are cradled by cheddar, a gentle bite of garlic, accented with butter, herbs and the kiss of salt. They have their own Facebook page. Seriously. Their addictive quality also renders it impossible for you to eat all of your starter Caesar as well as your pending order of Parrot Isle jumbo coconut shrimp. However, sacrifices must be made. Made in the name of deliciousness.
You can also make these cheddary, garlic-kissed biscuits at home. Otherwise, you can ask your server for a little baggie of extra biscuits to go. It wouldn’t hurt to use them as an English muffin substitute for a heightened eggs Benedict experience.
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory is renowned for its eclectic variations on the original cheesecake and a menu that is only slightly less lengthy than War and Peace. Upon arriving at the Cheesecake Factory and navigating your way through its showy Las-Vegas-meets-ancient-Rome-meets-futuristic-Atlantis-as-depicted-by-L.-Ron-Hubbard decor, a bread basket is placed on your table. There are two different species of warm loaf offered, but the one you should pay attention to is the darker of the two, the honey wheat brown bread. This warm loaf is soft and sweetened with a touch of molasses, dusted with a smattering of chewy oats on its chestnut-brown surface. A dollop of creamy butter offsets its honeyed dough and is the reason I fill up before ordering and never actually get to sample any of the 35 cheesecakes on option. Their white loaf is also a perfectly adequate bread, but alas, it’s the Jan Brady to the honey wheat brown Marcia.
Check out this recipe for the Cheesecake Factory’s honey wheat brown loaf from Kitchen Trials in case you have a hankering to bake your own heavenly bread. Note that your Cheesecake Factory servers will bring you a basket of the brown bread only if you ask nicely. They will also pack up any leftover bread for you to take home. But everyone knows leftovers are for amateurs.