August Rhodes Market- a new artisan sandwich concept within the celebrated Ares Collective (think Prep & Pastry and Commoner & Co.) family, recently opened its’ doors on Campbell Avenue. I unfortunately wasn’t in town to attend the grand opening, so I immediately made a beeline for it once I got back. The space is bright and welcoming, complete with an Instagram-worthy tropical print wall. You order at the counter, grab your number and then take a seat (either inside or on the shaded patio). I had the Vegan BLT with Tomato Basil Soup, as well as the Iced Madagascar Coconut White Tea. The Vegan BLT consists of: tofu, romaine lettuce, the reddest tomatoes I’ve ever seen, vegan aioli and sandwiched between to delicious slices of their baked in-house sourdough bread. The Tomato Basil Soup was creamy and comforting. The tea was the perfect refreshing punch of flavor. After taking that first bite, I was hooked.
Upon my most recent visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Nate Teufel- partner baker behind the drool-worthy bread. When it comes to a melt-in-your-mouth sourdough loaf, Nate is pretty much THE man to go to. He loves old-world breads that have a long fermentation period, and have nice crusts and open textures. “Our sourdough is fantastic. Our baguettes are really great. I’ve made these breads for years, but taking them into a new environment with new temperatures and humidity, and different ovens and everything; so it takes a while to dial all that stuff in. But now I feel that our baguettes are something that I’m proud to serve… Bread had gotten devalued for so long, that it became just a commodity, and just a thing that comes from a factory and you don’t really have your local bakers. It’s nice that there’s a movement in the last fifteen years that there’s enough people that recognize that they want good bread, and that I can be able to make that bread, because without an audience, I can’t do it.” It was after living in Spain for a couple years about twenty years ago that was the pivotal point that he wanted to figure out why the bread in Europe was so great. It wasn’t until he was back in the States and working at Canyon Ranch and with their bread making program, when he spent time observing the bread makers and understood what the difference between making a sourdough versus making a loaf of bread that you could bake in two hours. “To me, that’s also why those long fermented old-world breads are the ones that I like. They have that signature ‘bready’ flavor that you can just taste and process.”
Nate fills me in on the restaurant’s concept, “Sandwiches are a go-to food when you’re on the run. When you go out to eat for lunch and you’re in a hurry, oftentimes, you sacrifice the quality of the food you’re getting for that short amount of time you have, so we wanted to fill that niche. Kyle and I have both spent a lot of time in the south, so a lot of the cuisine draws from those experiences…The Smoked Brisket… The Japanese Milk Bread is supposed to be the answer to Texas Toast… I think that the people really respond to the Japanese Milk Bread (it’s a loaf of pan bread, it’s square, it looks like your grandma’s bread) and I think it’s because it’s soft, it’s white, it’s the opposite of an artisan bread, except that it’s not. I still make it with the same care and same quality of ingredients.” Speaking of ingredients…”All that attention is paid to each of the ingredients. When Kyle and I designed the menu, we wanted to try keep it as simple as possible, and really just focus on making sure that the things that were put into sandwiches are of high quality, and it’ll speak for itself. Customer faves: The New Jersey Joe- we smoke the brisket here in-house, we make the coleslaw, the Russian dressing from scratch… Everything that we are capable of scratch-making, we do; and anything that we can, we’re moving in the direction of scratch-making…That’s just the way you control quality and you can taste it… In a lot of places, I feel that vegetarian and vegan options are an after-thought. (I was vegetarian/ and vegan for many years). Then you have veggie friends that got out with their meat-eating friends… We wanted to be able to accommodate all of those tastes. The Vegan Bahn Mi- I’m very happy with. I make the vegan mayo in-house… The only thing we don’t make is the Sriracha. Our eggplant sandwich is supposed to be an answer to a grinder – eggplant, hummus, kalamata olives… It’s also vegan.”
Vegan Bahn Mi
The New Jersey Joe
Nate and his awesome team are also responsible for making all the breads for Prep & Pastry. Here are some helpful hints for if you decide to buy a baguette or sourdough loaf from the restaurant. The bread’s shelf life is at least three days at room temperature. The sourdoughs can go for a week if you don’t cut into one. A week later, you can cut into it, as it won’t mold and it has extra onboard moisture because of the process. Bread also freezes really well. It does almost nothing to the structure of the bread, as long as it’s in a freezer, and not thawing and re-freezing. If you just put in a freezer, it’ll last a few months.
What sets Ares Collective restaurants apart from the average restaurant? “The customer experience- the service. I credit Nate (Ares) with creating a culture with his front-of-the-house staff. For being inclusive and treating people like they’re actually guests, and not just customers. People will come here at eight in the morning before we’re open, and Nate will open the doors for them, bring them in, and we’ve made impromptu breakfasts. This is my house, and all these people are guests in my house. That’s what we’re trying to put across- when you come here, we’re going to treat you like you’re guests in our house. What do you want? What can I get for you? How can I make this nice for you? Because that’s what everyone wants… To go somewhere where people are going to treat them nice, and help them get the things that they want, just like you would help your friends at your house. I think that’s what really sets us apart … that, and the quality of food. I want my bread to be the best you’ve ever had.”
So that lovely piece of fall heaven in the photo above is a new dessert that they are rolling out just time for the holiday season. This is the Traditional Colonial Pumpkin Pie. “There’s no crust. The pumpkin itself becomes the crust. I bake the pumpkin itself, and then cool the pumpkin a little bit, then fill it with custard, bake it, and let it sit. The pumpkin basically becomes the serving dish for the custard essentially. You get the sweet and savory, because the pumpkin is not sweet sweet, it still has a little bit of that fleshiness of the pumpkin, but you get the sweet custard with it. To me, that juxtaposition is more interesting to eat than just a regular pumpkin pie.”
August Rhodes Market has plans on hosting a farmers market on Saturday mornings (stay tuned). They also eventually plan on selling all the breads at retail. Need catering or any special orders? Be sure to reach out to them! They are on Instagram and Facebook. The restaurant is located at: 3073 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719. Their phone number is: (520)447-8873. They also deliver through DoorDash!