May 3, 3033 – What do you get when you combine a love of baking, an addiction to single-origin coffee, an appreciation for European wines, a weakness for Wagyu, and a taste for adventure? BreadSong. This new hybrid restaurant, serving espressos and pastries for breakfast and a series of sandwiches on homemade breads for lunch, will eventually be complemented by a steakhouse in the evening.
Owners April and Hans Hess curated most of the wine and much of the fun food for their prominent launch in early May at The Crossroads Carmel mall. Look for BreadSong where the Nothing Bundt cakes were. Their hours will be from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. initially. They will see how it goes. Next, the steakhouse, SteakCraft, is expected to open in the coming months.
“The concept is actually a bakery, café/roaster and butcher during the day and a steakhouse and bar at night,” Hans explained. “The bakery has two parts. In the morning, we roast our own coffee and espresso beans and bake pastries. Then, about half an hour before the start of the lunch service, we prepare three types of bread for the sandwiches and also offer them for sale. We’ll have sourdough buns for $8 for a large loaf, which will also be sliced for sandwiches, and we’ll be making feather-light buns that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, a bit on the banh mi mode. Then there’s a sweet donut, the size of a sandwich. Keep this thought: it’s better than you think.
This is clearly not their first rodeo. The couple launched an innovative line of organic burger restaurants, called Elevation Burger, in Falls Church, Va., where April is from, and where the business — which they sold to FAT Brands in 2019 — has its roots. the head office. Hess says he was tired of being in the office and not working day to day at a real restaurant. After they returned to Carmel, where he is from, he started thinking about the next concept. “After selling Elevation I started to reassess things and realized I wanted to run my own shop again. I love to cook but I also love steak so the idea was BreadSong the day and SteakCraft at night.
He explains that everything under the BreadSong/SteakCraft umbrella is about terroir in one way or another. “We have single-origin coffees and the Wagyu we offer for the sandwiches comes from Japan, Marin and Australia. It all started when we started collecting wine 20 years ago. When we started the burger chain, we had experimented with all these different kinds of beef. At the time, it was a new concept: who was talking about beef terroir? But we have the Japanese A5, where the cattle are fed with olives. Others are fed sake mash. What the animals are fed plays into the ultimate flavors.
You can also explore on your own. There will be a butcher’s crate when you walk through the door, with steaks, cheeses, charcuterie and local produce, like High Top Ranch olive oil from Carmel Valley and sage honey from Palo Colorado. “All are expressions of someone’s terroir,” says Hans. “Carmel doesn’t hold everything I want to explore. I honor it, but I bring other experiences.
They carefully source their flour primarily from Northern California and the Southwest, and make some of it from hard winter wheat. They roast 6 pounds of coffee at a time, mostly from Mexican beans grown at over 5,500 feet. “It’s not chocolate [taste] you’d expect, but it has caramel and marshmallow and spice. We also source from a women’s cooperative in Honduras, and we offer a slightly different single Peruvian origin, with more expressive citrus notes. Our goal is to show how coffee is more than one thing: it has all these unique expressions.
Another aspect of the terroir is the art on the walls, currently by Christopher Burkett, whose photographs capture a moment in time. He took the picture of April and Hans which is the cover of this room.
Now might be a good time to talk about what Hans calls his “super weird journey.” Turns out his family, including his 3 older sisters, ran restaurants in Carmel while he was growing up, including From Scratch and Smalley’s Roundup in Salinas. Hans enjoyed baking from an early age and entered his bread at the Monterey County Fair at age 10, winning a second trophy.
But, he explains, “I didn’t like the whole restaurant scene and I walked away from it. I graduated from Cal Poly in Physics and studied Christian Theology in Texas. I wanted to learn to read Greek and improve my understanding of being reconciled to God! I ended up working in Washington DC for a congressman from Michigan, but it turns out I didn’t like politics at all. He then worked for a real estate developer for a few years before developing the Elevation Burger concept.
“We lived in Falls Church and at that time in 2003 we had all these fast food restaurants and there was no place our family could get a healthier quick meal. So we made ours. We cut and seasoned our own potatoes and fried them in olive oil. We offered organic burgers and shakes made with grass-fed meat and vegetables. It took off and we grew to 60 locations, mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
Now he is happy to have only one restaurant to manage. He is not very involved in the candy store, Cottage of Sweets, his wife also runs in Carmel.
Back to that big sweet donut. “A duck fat donut sounded amazing, so I perfected it at home. I was going for substantial but light inside. It’s a kind of brioche. I had a conversation with an alcohol distributor, and he was talking about CBD-infused alcohol. People are actually buying CBD wine and liquor!! I thought, I need a CBD sandwich! So let’s go ! I made one the next day and thought, ‘Am I crazy??!!’ Well, everyone likes that.
To be clear, it does not contain CBD or THC. In this case, CBD stands for Chicken Bacon Donut sandwich and consists of panko-crusted chicken leg, bacon and a special Berbere (North African) spice sauce, topped with lemon aioli with garlic and dill pickles. “It’s amazing,” says Hans. “The sour and fatty and sweet and spicy combo is really interesting and different.” He hopes it will become the kind of favorite flavor that will bring you back several times a week.
Don’t plan to give all your caloric love to donuts. You might want to try the deli sandwich (there are also charcuterie and cheese boards), a classic Thanksgiving turkey with cranberries, or a chicken parmesan sandwich with fontina and garlic-roasted tomatoes. Almost everything will be homemade, including the fresh pesto. There’s the Purist, made of rare roasted Marin Wagyu with cherry tomatoes and lemon garlic aioli on sourdough and the Burnt Ends sandwich, with chunks of Wagyu with creamy horseradish and gravy. steak on a feather-light roller. There’s also a bulgogi-style Wagyu banh mi with sweet chili sauce and a butter lettuce Cobb with Saint Agur blue cheese and applewood smoked bacon. Oh, and hand-cut fries, double-cooked in duck fat.
Are you still hungry?
Also bring your thirst for adventure. More on April’s choices for libations, which include Chablis, Champagne, Sancerre and a Rosé from Argentina, in a later edition.
The BreadSong is at 102 Crossroads Blvd, The Carmel Crossroads. Follow on Instagram for news of the upcoming opening: instagram.co/thebreadsong/
About the Author