It’s hard to screw up sliced bread—here’s a place that does.
“People love RyBread because of the character of the space, the character of the employees and the story,” RyBread founder and owner, Ryan Pollock, says with a grin.
With a menu etched in neat chalk letters on an oversized blackboard and a Nantucket–esque patio in the middle of Philadelphia, the space is characteristically Instagram–able. I want to #nofilter and share RyBread with the world. I’m ready to love my food as much as I love the motif pillows lining the indoor seating area.
Pollock dreamed of crafting buildings, not sandwiches. After losing his job at an architecture firm in Washington, D.C., he decided to take what he calls an “unemployment opportunity.” Pollock and his girlfriend, RyBread co–owner Stephanie, traveled across the country visiting more than 20 American cities and old pals.
Pollock and Stephanie’s background in design is evident in the carefully curated cafe decor. Mounted in neat rows of glossy wooden frames, black and white photos of Pollock and Stephanie’s journey across America line the cafe walls. And their impressions of the locales they visited are encapsulated in the menu—each dish bearing a city’s name.
The first sandwich I tried was the San Fran ($6.75) a panini with prosciutto, mozzarella, roasted roma potatoes and pesto on sourdough bread. After unwrapping the sandwich I was underwhelmed. The prosciutto tasted like my grandmother’s classic Yom Kippur corned beef. Thanks, but I wasn’t trying to atone for my sins mid–lunch.
On an employee’s recommendation, I decided to try the Austin salad ($7.95) next, with romaine lettuce, chicken, avocado, corn, tortilla strips, salsa and sour cream. Despite the promises of Tex–Mex fusion, this is the Mexican–ish salad we’ve all had before. The chicken was much too dry, and I’m fairly certain the salsa was Tostitos brand. There is absolutely no comparison between Rybread’s Austin and Chipotle. Skip the former. Stay on campus.
Hoping that another sandwich would be tastier, I bit into the Denver ($6.75), a chicken salad sandwich with walnuts, grapes and greens, served on multi–grain bread. I’ve never been to Denver, but if I were to correlate the city with the sandwich, I’d imagine it to be soggy, stuffed with overcooked chicken salad, bathed in mayonnaise and scattered with random grapes. Maybe this is what Denver is like—if so, that sucks. What I wanted was a tasty chicken salad, and what I got was edible mediocrity.
I managed to muster some excitement for my dessert, a vanilla cupcake with cream cheese frosting ($3). Cherishing the cupcake’s perfectly moist like–Betty–Crocker’s–wet–dream vanilla cake, I walk out of RyBread and down Fairmount Avenue. With the Art Museum on the horizon, I am certain that American cities are not filled with overcooked chicken and bland Mexican salads. That’s just RyBread.
RyBread 2319 Fairmount Ave @rybreadcafe (215) 769-0603
Don't Miss: The cupcake Skip: Everything else $$