BATTLE OF THE BREADBASKET

In most restaurants, bread baking is out of the question. For years, Dallas diners had to put up with soft, squishy, inferior bread or at best, those little, just-baked, frozen-dough loaves served on a board with a serrated knife (see Baby Doe’s).

Bui: the bread business has expanded like yeast, and now Dallas restaurants’ breadbaskets are filled with an international selection of rolls and breads, most of which are available retail as well. Here’s the evolution:

Neiman’s silver dollar rolls were the standard up until the late 1970s. La Madeleine’s French baguettes were the first replacement staple in 1981, then Massimo’s stirato rolls, with their yeastier taste and flour-dusted crust, became the chefs’ darling. Empire Baking Company’s rustic, flavorful breads like kaiamata olive loaf and the “farm Charlie” crowded out Massimo, and La Spiga provided a similar selection north of LBJ. Then Eatzl’s bakery-barely less expensive, but easier to deal with-grabbed a piece. Dutch Regal, formerly the Sourdough Bakery that supplied Whole Foods, has the roll that rules right now, but the up-and-coming contender is the rosemary roll (now in the basket at Mediterraneo) from the Corner Bakery, a joint venture of Norman Brinker and Chicago restaurant genius Richard Melman.

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