Dirt Cheap Eats 2009: Saint Michel Bakery

No matter how good its fillings, a sandwich can be undone by blah bread. That’s never a problem at this hidden-away bakery, where French native Bertrand Houlier turns out stone-oven-baked white and wheat baguettes every day. Takeaway loaves tend to sell out early—he also sells them at the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market in Bethesda—but you can taste them in a lineup of lovely sandwiches ($5.45 each): a half loaf slathered with Brie and French butter, a simple ham sandwich with butter and cornichons, and a traditional pan bagnat layered with tuna, olives, and egg.

Don’t leave without a sampling of the pastries, such as a raisin-studded breakfast twirl ($2.35), an elegant lemon tart with a brûlée top ($3.95), the almond-cream-filled confection known as Paris-Brest ($2.60), and excellent almond- and chocolate-stuffed croissants ($2.65 and $2.75).

Open Monday through Saturday 7 to 5:30.

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