• Emily Gilmore

Deconstructing a Deconstructed Sandwich at The Bread and Board

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

Sticky Shrimp Bahn Mi board and Southern Style Chicken Thigh board

Nestled behind the main strip of Jacksonville’s Five Points lies The Bread and Board restaurant. The stand-alone building is an old sandwich shop, but you wouldn’t know it. The décor looks as if it was inspired by a Pinterest board titled “industrial bohemian interiors.” The exposed pipes contrast against the row of plants with hanging tendrils. The marble tables, patterned tile wall, and succulents in geometric ceramic containers on every table give the restaurant a modern feel.

A glass rolling door takes up the whole front wall. On sunny days, it opens onto a lawn with games and picnic blankets available to anyone. Beyond that is an angular wooden pergola with picnic tables for communal eating.

Should you choose to dine at night, however, you will find that the restaurant has been converted into an intimate setting. The candles accompany the dimmed hanging rattan light fixtures to create a relaxed aura. The music has been carefully chosen to complement this, with soft acoustic bands such as Iron and Wine lining conversations. This is the atmosphere I found myself in on a rainy Wednesday night.

Groups of young professionals chattered amongst themselves. My sister and I were the youngest customers and the only ones not in suits. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy, including the staff whose laughs and inside jokes occasionally drifted our way.

I ordered the Southern Style Chicken Thigh as a “board.” Customers can choose to have their meal as a sandwich or deconstructed on a wooden, charcuterie-style board, hence the name The Bread and Board. That’s right, I willingly chose to pay three extra dollars to have to construct a sandwich myself. My initial skepticism convinced me that I was going to feel like I was eating a midnight snack of leftovers straight out of the fridge.

My attitude changed when a board piled high with food was presented. My excitement heightened and suddenly this felt like I was doing an activity rather than passively eating. In the middle of the board lay a fried chicken thigh atop a glorious pile of coleslaw. To one side, three bread rolls awaited me. To the other sat two ramekins. One was full of pimento cheese spread and one contained dill pickle slices. I think I was meant to assemble the ingredients on the bread rolls, but there were no rules. I let my creativity run wild. I tried different ingredient combinations, the ingredients by themselves, and how the sandwich was indented to taste.

I enjoyed all of the components. The fried chicken wasn’t heavy or greasy as the typical southerner would expect. The bread rolls had been made in house like all the restaurant’s bread. They were lightly toasted and had a garlicky, buttery taste. The pickles were sour and sharp and tasted homemade as well. The restaurant’s website claims that the boards offer a bigger serving than the sandwiches. The generous amount of coleslaw and my inability to finish it proved this to be true.

Still, some customers prefer the pre-constructed sandwich option. “When I go in I always get the sandwich version because it sounds like less work than constructing one on my own,” customer Jack Putnam chuckled.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous, head for the board. If you came to enjoy a straightforward delicious meal, go for the sandwich. Whichever team you end up on, I have confidence that it will be a delightful experience. The magic is in the well-prepared ingredients and the well-thought-out atmosphere.

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