Fresh-baked meal

Henri breaks bread at Tin Roof Bakery’s new café

Lexi Bakkar and Amanda Buzick fold boxes for Tin Roof Bakery’s morning batch.

Lexi Bakkar and Amanda Buzick fold boxes for Tin Roof Bakery’s morning batch.

Photo By jason cassidy

Tin Roof Bakery & Café

627 Broadway St.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 345-1362

“That might have been the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life,” Colette said. She took a sip of sauvignon blanc and stood to clear the table. I handed her my plate and napkin and indicated my empty wine glass.

We’d wandered downtown earlier in the day to look at placemats at the new Nantucket Home store. “I’m going across the street to Smyth’s to see if I can find some decent rims for Pierre,” she said, using her new sobriquet for my little Renault, which, she says, could use some “tricking out”—I think both her second and fourth husbands were tire salesmen. I shuddered at the thought, but my gaze quickly fell on some lovely mauve mats.

A half hour later, we met on the corner outside, moi with six lovely new placemats, Colette with an appointment for Pierre’s makeover. “Those wheels are gonna look so cherry,” she said. Over my corps mort, I started to say.

Instead, I suggested lunch next door. The newly opened Tin Roof Bakery and Café is a delightful addition to downtown Chico, its design decidedly urban: darkly painted concrete floor, huge picture windows, contemporary art on the pale-green walls and high, exposed-beam ceilings. The small tables are arranged spaciously around the open interior, and the huge window behind the counter looks into the adjoining bakery so you can watch the crew at work.

The restaurant’s focus is on the breads and pastries, sold at local stores and farmers’ markets since the bakery’s 2002 founding, which have earned the bakery its well-deserved reputation. They also use many local and seasonal ingredients, so the offerings (all presented at the counter in a display case) vary day to day: muffins, scones and croissants ($2-$3); salads, pasta salads and quiches ($3-$4); and sandwiches ($3.25-$4 for half, $6-$7 for whole) made on various Tin Roof breads, including sourdough, rye and whole grain, from roast pork to eggplant, with leeks, arugula, roasted peppers and pear chutney. Different breads are available on different days of the week, with the best selection on Saturday (27 kinds) and the smallest selection on Wednesday (a mere 11).

You can also get pies, cheesecake and cake, by the slice ($4-$5) or whole ($24-$50). And then there’s the bread. Tin Roof offers more than two dozen different delicious artisan breads by the loaf ($3-$4.50), including focaccia, ciabatta, batards and levains, which they’ll happily slice for you.

Colette ordered the roasted eggplant sandwich, with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and roasted peppers on sourdough wheat, and I got the turkey with horseradish on a baguette.

We also got a bowl of posole ($3.25) to share and we headed home. I opened the sauvignon blanc.

My sandwich was very good. There was lots of meat, and the baguette was fresh, but the horseradish didn’t have much kick. The posole, though, with chicken, onions, celery, bell peppers and carrots, was divine. In fact we were so impressed that we’ve been back four or five times and sampled more than a half-dozen different items. We love the sliced heirloom tomatoes with fresh greens and grated mozzarella on seeded levain.

And a bonus: Tin Roof has the best croutons in town ($5.25 for a 7-oz. bag), perfect for panzella, a central-Italian salad typically made with the late-summer tomatoes and stale country bread. In Chico, there are still good local tomatoes to be found, especially plum tomatoes, ideal for this delicious salad. Note: you can also make your own croutons, and save money, by cubing any of Tin Roof’s excellent breads once they begin to go stale. Seal in an airtight plastic bag.