It all still looks like it tasted amazing.
  • It all still looks like it tasted amazing.
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Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café

2750 Dewey Road, Suite 105, Point Loma

The orderly rows of architecturally identical old Naval buildings of Liberty Station are not the easiest to navigate. But I'm more than willing to get lost for a few minutes on a quest for a bakery/sandwich shop serving "Rustic Bread." After all, we know for a fact bad bread can ruin an otherwise good sandwich. So imagine what really good, freshly baked bread could do to improve one.

The place draws a line around lunchtime, and if you think that will give you enough time to decide which kind of bread you'd like, you're wrong. They offer French baguettes, with or without sesame seeds; French country bread; kalamata olive; raisin & hazelnut; sourdough. And those are just a few of the everyday selections — depending which day of the week it is you maybe forced to decide whether you'd prefer walnuts or gruyere in the thick slices housing your sandwich.

Outdoor seating available, but not the greatest option when the plane start taking off directly overhead.

Outdoor seating available, but not the greatest option when the plane start taking off directly overhead.

This many options can raise expectations. Would you prefer to pick little bits of rosemary, or caraway seeds out of your teeth when the meal is over? You might settle on one but still secretly want the other. You'll build up your hopes and maybe order a cinnamon roll on top of it all because a tray of them is sitting right there on the counter and they look just terrific.

At least, this is how I approached it, opting for the turkey Cobb sandwich partly because I was intrigued by the idea of a salad turned into a sandwich, and partly because it appears at the top of the menu. Turns out to be a turkey club with gorgonzola and avocado.

I ordered it on the "Artisan Multi-Grain" because I love having seeds and cracked wheat in my bread. I don't know whether ordering on sesame challah would have been better, or if that too would have been overwhelmed by the gorgonzola. I tried to imagine other breads, and in the process found myself trying to imagine other sandwich toppings. Questioning your order is not the most satisfying way to conclude a meal.

Neither was the cinnamon roll, which looked so decadently moist and turned out so dry. They say the best pastries are baked with love, and I didn't taste a lot of love here, either with the bread or the dessert. Perhaps the sterile surroundings preclude it, or maybe the frequent terrifying roar of large planes taking off from the airport next door disturbs the dough as it cooks.

If I'd eaten the same meal at a simple corner deli, I would have thought, hey, not a bad lunch option in a pinch. But bakeries are supposed to remind you why sliced bread doesn't really live up to all the greater things that have come along since. While this bread didn't, I'll still go back, because there are too many alternatives to try, and I think I can do better next time.

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