By Ashley Bennett
I walked into The Rustic Loaf expecting the best dang sandwiches money can buy on fresh, right out-of-the-oven bread but I was suddenly stricken with the reality: no seats equals no sandwiches. It’s obvious: The name so simply describes bread, and just that. However a place as unique as this shouldn’t be dismissed. Not by a long shot. Although this is not a lunch spot, deli and it won’t even pass as a cafe for lack of seating, it represents the reawakening of hand-crafted artisan breads in a region that has long since forgotten the art.
In Southern California we’re pro taco makers, but husband and wife Mike and Manya Urane are bringing something new to the IE. Lucky for Upland, Mike has taught himself to make various baked goods that will fill your tummy, tingle your taste buds and have you stopping by everyday to visit the mountain area just to hear the crunch of fresh crust.
Alright, now it’s time for the goods. The main offerings of The Rustic Loaf are the somewhat sphere-esque shaped artisan breads. Of the eight or so bread types there are three categories: original, savory and sweet. Breads deemed as originals (the French Country, Multi-Grain Whole Wheat and Rye breads) are hearty and packed with whole wheat. Nothing beats the taste of authenticity and tradition where the art of stone ground wheat or flour is brought back to life. Not to mention that these traditionally flavored breads are perfect tools for trying the unique selection of The Rustic Loaf olive oils branded “Dei Regalo.” Among Garlic Infused Olive Oil, Lemon Pepper Infused Olive Oil, Balsamic of Modena there is also one other: the White Balsamic of Modena. With a generous amount of this seemingly simple looking pale-yellow oil you’ll discover a whole new world in the sweet- and sourness of white grapes.
The savory menu appeals to those who enjoy a little flair. Among the Asiago Cheese, Jalapeno Jack, Kalamata Olive and Lemon Rosemary there are plenty of unique flavors. While the Jalapeno Jack for instance sported both jalapenos atop the loaf, it also hid beneath that delectably crunchy surface jalapeno jack cheese too (for those of you who are fans of a spicy kick). My personal favorite is the Lemon Rosemary which offers an even mix of fresh, relaxing rosemary, the zest and awakening of lemon and a plentiful amount of sea salt. Lush, hydrated sourdough bread is already enough to satisfy, but this lemon-rosemary combination quickly became my favorite if not just because the word “zest” promotes any food its own flair. Zesty.
Let’s not forget the sweet category which is reserved for both those who have a sweet tooth as well as bread lovers who want to start a new day with a hearty breakfast. Only two breads were worthy enough to grace the presence in this category: Cranberry Walnut and Cinnamon Raisin Whole Wheat. Unlike the other two categories, it seems essential to have a sweet section for those who want a bit of fruit to awaken the senses.
Insert cliché here: “Wait, there’s more!” The Rustic Loaf also makes the best crunchy and fresh scones you’ll ever have. Among cherry, apricot, and chocolate each has the right consistency of crunchy outside and soft, thick and extremely filling interior. Throw away those terrible Starbucks treats because these beauties will have you craving for the moment when you’re given one of these deliciously crunchy treats. I recommend the chocolate chunk (a scone donned with a rather generous amount of larger than average-sized chocolate chips) to any fellow chocolate lover who doesn’t mind gaining a pound or three in the process.
There’s much more that The Rustic Loaf has to offer, such as their own tasty Olive Tapenade as well as the imported Frog Hollow Farms Conservatives that hand picked and hand peeled their organic fruits. It’s like The Rustic Loaf is invoking the age-old motto of teaching a man to fish rather than simply giving a man a fish. I wish this place was a lunch spot (because I know they would be successful in that venture) but here they are giving you the tools to make your own creations with the right ingredients rather than buying a one-time meal.
The Rustic Loaf, Golden Pacific Plaza, 659 E. 15th St., Unit C, Upland, (818) 612-5421; www.therusticloaf.com. Grand Opening Feb. 29. 3pm-7pm.