Breaking Bread – Hof Kelsten

by Jason

I love bread. I once bought a bread maker from Canadian Tire and made all sorts of bread; nutty kinds with different grains and dried fruit, then I went through a vegetable phase and made loaves with zucchini and carrots… for like a week and never touched the thing again. There are things that you need to leave up to the professionals, roof repairs, off-shore oil drilling, cellphone unlocking and bread making. I recently hit up this spot in the Mile-end that has been giving the people of Montreal bread boners claiming them to make the “best bread” in the city.

I stopped in at Hof Kelsten for lunch – purveyor of leaven goodies to some of the city’s finest restaurants, this young gun bakery is now offering their gluten-bomb specialties to the public.

HofKelstenFrom the choice of six sandwiches my girl ordered the breakfast sandwich. We inquired about what comprised of a “breakfast sandwich” and prepared to cringe if there was a mention of an English muffin, but since this was a bakery, I was relieved when nothing in the spirit of a McBreakfast sandwich was spoken. The girl behind the counter said it’s basically a grilled cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. I don’t know what we were expecting, but we got exactly that. A grilled cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top.

HofKelsten-2Granted the white bread is homemade, the addition of a fried egg to anything is justification enough to render anything it’s sitting on as grounds for a breakfast meal… Fried egg on a sashimi and rice? BOOM, chirashizushi breakfast bowl. The bread was light and sweet, exactly what you need when sandwiching a couple slices of salty Kraft singles. The Egg on top forces you to eat the sandwich like a slice of pizza, either balancing the teetering imminent explosion of egg yolk gingerly atop your sandwich, then down your arm, or pulling a half-fold-finger-stall-360-fakie maneuver, pooling the broken yolk in a bready reservoir while squeezing the end like a taco.

HofKelsten-3Soup of the day was beef and barley. Soup and sandwich – as white bread of a lunch as anyone can get – comfort food as its finest. The soup was light and full of tender bits of barley, brisket, vegetables and fresh parsley.

HofKelsten-5I had the brisket sandwich. A Hof Kelsten version of a rueben, medium-fat slices of tender homemade brisket, sandwiched with thinly sliced apples, red cabbage slaw, house Russian dressing in between their own rye bread. The bread was soft and malleable that soaked up all the fatty juices from the warm brisket and accompanying dressing. The combination of the ultra savouriness of the meat against the tartness of the delicate shavings of apple was a nice contrast in both flavour and texture. In other news, I just called apple slices “delicate.” I also had a side of borscht – the creaminess of the sweet beet soup with dollop of sour cream was velvet in texture.

HofKelsten-4We split a side of the potato latkes. These potato pancakes were a bit different than the ones I’ve had before. With a hint of onion and more actual “pancakey” and less fried potatoes. I appreciated a version that is new to me yet familiar at the same time.

HofKelsten-6With a modest counter display of homemade pastries and a roster of 10 different kinds of bread with specialties on particular days (babka on wednesdays and challah on fridays), Hof Kelsten is definitely breaking bread with their breadwinning loaves along with all the other sayings where bread is involved. A solid place to grab a soup and sandwich along with a loaf of bread for the road – I killed half a loaf of their raisin challah on the drive home. Did Hof Kelsten give me the same feeling as I got when I accidentally found my dad’s porn stash with I was 12? No. But it did give me that warm tingly feeling inside knowing I’m about to smash a brisket sandwich homemade with love from the bottom up… So yes, maybe a little bit of the same as the porn stash thing.

Hof Kelsten
4524 Saint Laurent
Hof Kelsten on Urbanspoon
CLOSED Monday-Tuesday

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Vincent January 22, 2014 - 3:18 pm

I would add one important element. Until the trucks can come out, Dispatch coffee is serving delicious coffee treats.

lagatta à montréal February 7, 2014 - 2:27 pm

Drat, I forgot their challah again! Thanks for reminding me, I must try it. About the only other places nearby for me are Cheskie’s on Bernard and Parc, and Homemade Kosher Bakery in Parc-Ex. The latter more industrial, of course, but not bad.

Chris, Mile-End is part of the Plateau. Usually it is considered to be the northwestern part of that borough, from Mont-Royal up to the railway (Van Horne) and from Hutchison east to… some say St-Laurent, others a few streets east of there, but certainly west of St-Denis. Many would consider the garment district around St-Viateur east to be part of Mile-End.

Since Hof Kelsten is on the western side of St-Laurent, it is definitely in Mile-End (at its southern end) and also squarely in the Plateau.

Does anyone know if Hof Kelsten has started to make heavier, darker rye bread, of the kind you could kill someone with? (Those bricks of stuff found in Germany and the Netherlands).


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