Where There's Good Bread, Good Sandwiches Usually Follow
The People's Last Stand (5319 East Mockingbird Lane, 214-370-8755) opened two weeks ago, adding to the collection of bars and restaurants to tempt would-be diners and drinkers after shopping and movie-going at Mockingbird Station. I stopped in after watching Toast, to pay Omar Yeefoon a visit and check out his mixology. My drinks were fine for sure, but it was the sandwich I ordered that captured my attention.
Meet Rocco, a smoked turkey and blue cheese on an Empire baugette
The second the plate arrived I noticed two things: First, wow, that's a small sandwich for $8, and second, holy shit look at that structure.
You can see good bread before you even pick it up. It's crumb, the inner composition of the loaf, was laced with irregular holes that indicate a well develop bread that's risen with time, not rushed with yeast. And the crust was rich and brown (a lot of bakeries under-cook their loaves).
I picked up the sandwich, a "Rocco" filled with smokey roast turkey and funky blue cheese, and took a bite. A good baguette puts up a fight. You have to chew on it a little and tear with your teeth. That crusty exterior is abrasive on the tender roof of your mouth, recalling that time you ate one too many bowls of Cap'n Crunch (Crunch Berries, please), and it sheds shards of crust with every bite.
The People's Last Stand is a cocktail den, not a sandwich shop, but it turns out to be a great place to order a sandwich. When I was done eating I ordered a second drink, a sazerac that blew away my first over-sweetened old fashioned, and asked the bar tender where they get their bread.
"Empire Bakery" he told me. I've heard about those bread makers before. My first encounter with Empire came via a comment stream that resulted from my bitch fest about Dallas' bread culture. Emily Samuel chimed in and stood up for her loaves:
One year ago this month, I too moved from DC to Dallas. There I worked for Lyon Bakery, here I work for Empire Baking Co. I think your "It's a poor bread town" comment is stemming more from a lack of quality restaurant suggestions. Please give us a chance to defend ourselves.
I finally got in touch with Samuel and asked her about Empire and other Dallas sandwiches that feature their bread. She told me about a grilled ham and caramelized onion sandwich at Bolsa, and Patina Green in McKinney, which features Empire's jalapeno rolls. Both get my salivary glands going. If you want to find a great sandwich, first you have to find great bread, and then follow the crumbs from there.