Culture Espresso Bar is Perfect if You Don’t Feel Like Trekking to Sullivan Street Bakery

When Culture Espresso Bar opened on 38th and 6th back in July it was notable for coffee drinkers because they served Intelligentsia.  But it turns out it’s notable for us eaters as well.  Not only do they serve coffee and a small selection of pastries, but they also have sandwiches.  And while I’m normally not super into pre-made, fancy coffee shop sandwiches, these have a trump card that will always get me: they’re all made on bread from Sullivan St. Bakery.  Oh, and they happen to be pretty tasty too.

I will fully admit to being a Sullivan Street Bakery/Jim Lahey superfan.  That’s not to say I know anything about bread.  In fact, not only am I not a bread aficionado by any means, I never really even thought about bread as something that could be revered… until I tried the bread at Sullivan St. Bakery.  Now, if I’m out somewhere and have an out of control good sandwich, I’ll ask where the bread came from.  Invariably I know the answer is going to always be Sullivan St. Bakery.  Because if it’s good enough to ask where it came from, it means it probably came from there.

If you feel like me, than you probably have made the trek out to 47th Street btw. 10+11th for a sandwich at lunch. I admit the sandwiches are on the small side, and totally expensive for what you get (especially if you follow the Midtown Lunch mentality), but the bread makes it all worth it.   But I also understand that not everybody has that kind of time, which makes finds like Culture Espresso Bar (on 38th btw. 5+6th) that much more exciting. They follow a similiar mentality (smallish sandwiches for the price), but there is something in me that forgets to be a cheapass when staring down the barrel of a sandwich on Sullivan St. Bakery bread.

Yesterday I stopped by Culture Espresso Bar, and helped myself to three different kinds…

Culture Espresso Bar

The Figgy ($7.25) – Fig jam, proscuitto, and goat cheese. This probably comes closest to the regular sandwiches at Sullivan St. Bakery, since they’re on the same exact bread and uses very little filling.  More like an expensive snack, than a filling lunch, but if you like sweeet/salty/tangy combo of figs, prosciutto, and goat cheese you’re gonna like the taste of this one.

Culture Espresso Bar

Carribean Chicken Salad ($9).  I’m a big fan of this curry chicken salad, and this one takes the genre a bit farther with the addition of ginger and a mango chutney.  Less curry flavor than some people will like, but the mayo levels are not bad and for me it was a hit.  Sadly it’s also pretty small, especially for $9.

Culture Espresso Bar

Porchetta ($9) – Chipotle pork, tomato, onion, avocado, greens.  This is probably the best value.  I’m all about avocado in sandwiches; in fact it’s the only way I’ll eat non-Thanksgiving turkey.  Add it to pork, and it’s a home run.  The only way you won’t like this sandwich is if you expect hot porchetta with crispy bits (like they serve in the East Village.)  Sadly, this is the old school cold cuts porchetta.  But like a pig flying through the air on a BBQ, “it’s still good, it’s still good!”

They’ve got about 10 sandwiches on the menu, so there’s probably something for everyone… although the only other one that looked good to me was a proscuitto/salami/mozzarella/pesto number that cost $10.25! (And as you know that’s out of my price range.)   In other words, the sandwiches are all small for the price.  But if you love Sullivan St. Bakery as much as I do, it’s better than walking to 10th Ave.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I freaking love Sullivan St. Bakery bread, but don’t feel like walking to 10th Ave.

THE  – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • There is no way I’m paying $7-9 on a tiny-ass sandwich.  (I don’t care where the bread comes from

Culture Espresso Bar, 72 West 38th Street (btw. 5+6th) 212-302-0200


  • Do they sell the bread on it’s own? I’m a bag fan of the coffee + loaf of bread + pastry lunch, but it’s kind of a hike out to Amy’s / Sullivan

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    Jim Lahey has a new cookbook called My Bread in case anyone feels ambitious enough to make the bread at home.

    (long-time lurker – I promise I’m not just posting to advertise a book)

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE Sullivan St bread!

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