I love summer, but when the temperature starts climbing to the triple digits the heat is just intolerable. We weren’t going to let the heat keep us from enjoying Signature Theatre’s Open House (plus, they were smart and moved almost everything inside), but we did wonder where we would find a good lunch. There are lots of great restaurants in Shirlington Village that we look forward to trying, but we wanted something fast and light for lunch on Saturday. After looking around, we settled on trying Best Buns Bread Company.
I’m a big fan of Sweetwater Tavern (another restaurant in the Great American Restaurants chain), in fact they even have the entrée that I refer to as “my best chicken sandwich” and I love their Ozzie rolls too. I knew they would have good bread and I had high hopes for other things on the menu at Best Buns Bread Company too.
We ordered a chicken salad sandwich and a fresh mozzarella & tomato sandwich for the three of us to share. I’m really glad that I enjoyed and RJ didn’t enjoy the chicken salad sandwich. While I couldn’t discern Dijon mustard per se, the sandwich had a pleasant mustardy bite. The rustic Italian bread served as a great vehicle, soft and yielding with a tender crust. I love when chicken salad contains nuts, although sometimes I got a bite that was all nuts and no chicken, which was a little disappointing. The sharp, grassy watercress gave it a nice brightness that helped make this sandwich a very pleasant lunch. The mozzarella & tomato sandwich was a big problem for me because it was advertised as having basil NOT basil pesto. Imagine my dismay when I unwrapped the sandwich, because I have to be careful about eating pesto. I can’t eat certain kinds of nuts and that could have been really serious. When I see basil, I expect an herb, not pesto. If you mean pesto, say pesto.
Since we never know what G will like or dislike we usually try more items when we are out so we can find something for everything. We also ordered a bacon and cheddar scone and a triple lemon cupcake. The triple lemon cupcake was great, dense, but not too heavy and very moist. I loved the lemon cream cheese frosting and candied lemon peel too. The cheddar and bacon scone was a big disappointment because it was far too sweet, the bacon was too chewy and you couldn’t taste cheese, even though you could see it.
The service at Best Buns Bread Company was friendly, however I was bothered by the lack of indoor seating. I know it’s a grab-and-go type of place, but you need more than high stools and only a scant amount of those. You can’t manage a toddler with that kind of seating. We tried sitting outside, but the tables had a lot of bird… stuff on them, so I wasn’t about to feed a little one who puts everything in his mouth out there. Plus it was almost 100 degrees.
I would absolutely grab a cupcake, chicken salad sandwich and perhaps a sweet scone from Best Buns Bread Company, but I’ll have to make sure to stake out a more practical place for our family to sit to eat our food at first.
Kari Liked: The chicken salad sandwich was delicious and I liked the cupcake too.
Kari Didn’t Like: I didn’t like the incorrect advertising/labeling about the mozzarella & tomato sandwich and I wish there had been more indoor seating.
When we attended the Signature Theatre Open House last weekend, we thought it would be a great chance to try Best Buns Bread Company, which is not only a retail bakery, but also provides all the wonderful breads for bread baskets and sandwiches for all the local Great American Restaurants concepts. What we found was a mixed bag or good and bad.
We ordered their chicken salad sandwich, fresh mozzarella & tomato sandwich, bacon and cheddar scone, and triple lemon cupcake.
The chicken salad was well executed and had a variety and depth of flavors, however the use of watercress meant it’s a sandwich I won’t eat again. If you like the sharpness of raw red onions in your chicken salad, the watercress will remind you of that. So even though all the other ingredients were well handed, I can’t endorse this sandwich.
We also got a fresh mozzarella & tomato sandwich. This sandwich I liked much more. The cheese and the pesto were great. I usually don’t like tomatoes. It’s weird because I love tomato sauce, and tomato soup, but I don’t like the texture of tomatoes. This sandwich made me reconsider. The tomatoes were thin enough that I could stand eating them, and could even imagine looking forward to them at some later date. The sautéed onions really added a great umami taste to this sandwich as well.
The bacon and cheddar scone was just horrible. There was very little bacon in it, and you couldn’t taste any cheese. The unexpected sugar on top of the scone was out of place and negatively affecting the eating experience. I even tried to eat a bite of yellow that was clearly cheese and couldn’t taste any cheddar. After eating the delicious scones from our favorite bakery Cupcaked, we’re a bit spoiled for anything other than exceptional scones. I would never order this again.
What about dessert? The highlight of the meal was most certainly the triple lemon cupcake. I’m on a big lemon kick right now, and the candied lemon peel paired great with the lemon cream cheese icing and lemon cake. It was the right amount of sweet without being cloying, and the cream cheese frosting provided an unexpected punch that makes the whole thing. This was really good.
My biggest complaint does have to do with the printed menu, and it’s relation to the reality of the sandwiches. Two things come to mind immediately. First, the fresh mozzarella & tomato sandwich is presented as having basil and olive oil. When you get this item at the store, it comes with a pesto instead. Also, the sandwiches are said to be “made to order until 3pm” but both in the pictures on the website and in the bakery, the sandwiches are all prepackaged, and it isn’t obvious if special orders are even accepted.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure what to think of Best Buns Bread Company. I liked some of the items, but other items were a total bust for me. I’d probably try some items here moving forward, but would probably stick to their sweets and safe sandwich options.
RJ Liked: The mozzarella sandwich and the triple lemon cupcake
RJ Didn’t Like: The watercress, and the misleading wording on the menu
Best Buns Bread Company is located at Village at Shirlington, 4010 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206. For more information on Best Buns Bread Company, click here.