on February 4, 2012
Yes the Boudin may be full of hungry tourists but for any seafood-loving soul, it’s a San Francisco right of passage. The place is something of a mini theme park. In the shop window, bakers mould ropes of squidgy dough into plump sourdough rolls and spectators can admire a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ bread rendering of a crocodile. In the foyer, kids were being thrust upon an anemic-looking Santa Claus. On one side there was a metal staircase winding up to what I guess is the main restaurant and on the other, a large, busy self-service cafe and gift shop. A conveyor of baskets ferried metal baskets of decorative sourdough overhead but down on ground level, we wasted little time ordering up two bowls of clam chowder. The ‘bowls’ at Boudin are made from the very sourdough they bake on site, and are bigger than most non-edible vessels. The clam chowder at Boudin is thick, creamy, with chewy clam morsels and of a perfect consistency to seep into the thick, yet fluffy bread bowl. Fortunately a substantial crust ensures that leakages are unlikely to occur. I had been to Boudin many years ago and for this visit, made sure that I arrived with an empty stomach as the chowder bowl is a substantial meal. Seating at the bakery is in a somewhat unattractive marquee pitched to the side of the bakery. The garden furniture in a tent idea is practical if nothing else. It is a popular place for family groups and if you drop a few crumbs or make a bit of a mess, it somehow seems to matter less than if you were seated indoors or in nicer surroundings. We watched staff try in vain to shoo a couple of bird intruders out but with all the delicious bread being consumed in the room it must be a losing battle. I did think it was a shame though how the marquee was so enclosed and that any view of the bakery shop or the waterfront was completely obscured. For those averse to seafood, they also sell sandwiches, salads and pizzas and it is also possible to get tomato and other soups in their sourdough bread bowl if clam chowder doesn’t appeal. In spite of its location, Boudin offers good value for money. The chowder bowls are $7.29 (less than £5) each. We also got a couple of drinks, including a Red Tail Ale. For two people the bill came to $21.12 (about £13.40).
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