(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wrote this piece back in the middle of 2012, during lunch break on a rather boring office day. Incidentally, my lunch that time was the eponymous dish featured in this entry. However, the accompanying images came later – one is from early 2013 and the others are from a few weeks ago. Do visit The French Baker’s Facebook page here.)
As a child, one of the most unforgettable meals I ever had was an order of Soup in a Bread Bowl from The French Baker. I could still remember those Friday nights when me and my parents ate out, sharing memories over one or two bowls, and with Dad being fine with a Danish pastry and a cup of coffee. That was one of my most memorable food trips – one that haunts me even until today. Sadly, I didn’t (or wasn’t able to) find sufficient time and money to actually go back at The French Baker as I grew up. It was only after I graduated from college and found work that I was able to finally relive my childhood memories of eating this dish. However, after tasting the soup once more I realized that it has changed a lot as the years passed. It was no longer the one I remember as a young boy.
Let me start by comparing the bread. Yes, that iconic bread bowl where they serve the soup in. I remember seeing some height to it, much like a pumpkin. Now it appears that reduced a third of its original height. For a smaller serving of soup, maybe? The way they serve the bread remains the same, though. After cutting off the top, the inside is carved out and served alongside the soup. This is to be enjoyed perfectly with butter, broken into little pieces, and consumed promptly. As for me however, I prefer dipping the buttered bread pieces into my soup. The bread is baked just right, with enough crustiness to hold the soup but not too hard that it’s difficult to eat in itself. The color is commendable likewise – a light brown with golden tones signifying absolute freshness.
Of course, this dish wouldn’t be named as such without the trademark soup. Back then, they had a “soup of the day”, in which they served a different soup every day of the week. Now, they’ve limited it to two or three flavors – crab and corn, chicken with corn, or potato and bacon (which I had during the last time I dined there). I do miss their variety of soups and the texture of those, like it was really made from scratch every day. I once managed to have New England style clam chowder here (much like the one in Bizu), but that was a long, long time ago. But moving on to the present, their soups have a nice consistency and were absolutely delicious when served hot. It was even better when the empty bread bowl absorbed the soup’s flavors.
Indeed, who would have thought that a simple dish of hearty soup in a warm bread bowl turned out to be an unforgettable indulgence. With every serving, memories of better days came back. I invite you to try it and experience comfort.