Great Harvest Bread Co. (Boise)

(I doubt I could find many people who would say the smell of bread baking isn't one of their favorite scents.  Well maybe I could, but I wouldn't want to know those people.  There's just something fundamentally alluring about that aroma, and at Great Harvest Bread Co., they bake about ten different kinds every day.  That doesn't take into account the cookies, muffins, see where I'm going with this.  There are actually two locations on Fairview, one in Meridian that has a large indoor area and good furniture for dining in, and another one in Boise that has basically a counter and a bread rack and shares a couple of outdoor patio chairs and tables with Deli George.

When I want bread, stopping at the one in Meridian would make more sense as they're more or less on my way home, but I usually hit the one in Boise.  I know their bread is good and I know which breads are available on which days thanks to their website. I personally recommend the honey whole wheat, the asiago sourdough, the cinnamon burst (makes for amazing French toast), and in the right mood I like the pumpkin chocolate chip quite a bit.  Recently, they've added a very addictive lemon blueberry coffee cake that unfortunately is only available on Mondays.  I can also recommend their cinnamon rolls and muffins, but have yet to try the cookies, and there are a few breads I still haven't tried.  True, the prices aren't the best, but you're paying for real bread.  That kicks the hell out of that spongy, flavorless, mechanically-produced edible cardboard that takes up all that space in the supermarket.  But in all honesty, the main reason I go there is because they're home to one of the best brown bag lunches in the mall area, and that's where I happen to work.

It used to be that they charged seven or eight dollars (I can't remember which) for a sandwich, and while the sandwiches were huge, made on their very tasty breads and came with a pickle spear and a bag of chips, the options were somewhat limited and it was just a bit much for a sandwich in the era of the five dollar footlong.  Someone there must have realized this as well, because sometime within the last year the price dropped to $4.95.  You still get the chips and pickle, but the sandwiches are somewhat smaller due to being made with their sandwich bread as opposed to the round loaves they produce.  Worry not consumer advocates, odds are you'll still have a hard time putting down an entire Great Harvest sandwich in a sitting.  They've also added a few more ingredient options and specialty sandwiches, and the quality is as good as ever.

Another great thing about this place is that they always have a few of that day's loaves available for sampling, along with butter, honey and on occasion some kind of spread like peanut or almond butter.  Believe me, the size of the hunk of bread they consider a sample will enable you to put the second half of your sandwich in the fridge to have later.  And speaking of the sandwich...

There are three flavors of chips available, all the same brand so far as I know.  They're kettle style and perfectly tasty.  The pickle spear is, well, a pickle spear.  These are just nice accompaniments.  The sandwich is the real star here.  Let's move in a little closer...

That's not an inconsiderable stack of meat, but check out those veggies.  I don't know where they get those amazing sprouts, but I'm glad they have them.  The lettuce is of the dark leafy green variety that is so good on sandwiches, and I've never had a single issue with the freshness of it or any of the other vegetables that they use, and I get all of them.  And again, it's on their wonderful bread, which manages to shine even when paired with all those other things.

I'm always surprised by how many people aren't even aware that you can get a sandwich here, let alone one of such high quality.  They even have online ordering (albeit still in the early stages) so your lunch can be ready when you arrive.  You can also add cookies, drinks and soup.  Plus a free bread sample big enough that you could have it bronzed and use it as a paperweight.  I couldn't possibly recommend this place any higher.  Unless they were to start making that lemon blueberry coffee cake more than once a week, that is.

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