Pastries

Pasties? Never wear ‘em anymore, I have a real job now…oh wait, I couldn’t read my own writing there for a moment. I mean pastRies. Yes, love them, eat them whenever possible, the more chocolate involved the better, they’re my favorite morning food on my way to my perfectly respectable day job where everyone wears clothes and lots of them. Here are a few of the best places in Portland to get some good old-fashioned, and not so old-fashioned, pastries.

Baker & Spice

bakerspicecakesquareWell hidden in a nondescript Hillsdale strip mall, this popular, relaxed little neighborhood bakery’s reputation draws fans in from near and far. I, for one, actually drove all the way there from my downtown apartment, and it’s no small feat to get me onto a freeway. But my friend Lisa Jacobs of Jacobs Creamery had gushed about their sour cream crumb cake, and Lisa knows her sour cream, so I figured I’d better go. Inside, I found a wall of freshly baked bread, and a pastry case filled with flaky chocolate, almond, and ham & gruyere croissants, tender scones, savory galettes, chocolate bread pudding, lemon tartlets, blueberry buckle, apricot upside down cornmeal cake, ricotta tarts with cherry compote, and yumbly crumbly chocolate shortbread. It’s the ideal stop before or after a Sunday jaunt to the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market (also a good excuse to drive to the ‘burbs).

Bakeshop

bakeshoppiesBakeress extraordinaire and author of the James Beard award-winning Good to the Grain cookbook, the lovely Kim Boyce, won a special spot in the heart of Portland pastryphiles by opening a pretty little bakery in the Rose City Park ‘hood, where beautiful vintage platters piled high with freshly baked rustic ricotta tarts, sweet apple and tart rhubarb hand pies, corn and gruyere muffins, figgy buckwheat scones and apricot crumble bars tempt from behind the gleaming glass partition that separates you from the open kitchen. Warning—you must resist the urge to run back there and sink your face into a bowl of Sweet & Salty cookie batter. Really, have some self control. I’m talking to me you.

Bluebird Bakers

BluebirdBakerspeanutbutterYou love wine bars, dive bars, monkey bars, Klondike bars, and now you’re going to love this Northwest Portland cookie bar. Bluebird is wooing Nob Hill with its sweet smells, already legendary chocolate chunk cookies, rich flourless brownies, and unique setup–the cookie platter-lined bar is fronted with heaps of samples, encouraging you to try, try, try before you buy, so you can make an informed cookie decision (one of each, obviously). If you’re toting Fido, pick up a pack of their Citizen Kanine dog biscuits, made with peanut butter, pumpkin and oats.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop

bushelandpeckbucklesquareBeing more of a future-focused gal myself (it just seems efficient to spend one’s second breakfast planning the day’s lunches and dinners instead of reading the back of the Prosecco bottle!), the closest I come to “modern nostalgic” is a good ModCloth.com browse now and then, but Bushel & Peck owner/baker Amanda Felt, formerly of Black Sheep Bakery, has applied the concept to pastry, and behold–the ordinary muffin is transformed Cinderella-style into a blueberry sour cream version with lavender sugar, scones get glammed up with strawberries and chamomile, snickerdoodles are kissed with cardamom, and the humble buckle is reborn in pumpkin bourbon chocolate splendor. This, I can get behind.

Fleur de Lis

fleurdelispastrysquareWhile we’re on the topic of pastries, which makes one think of love, which sometimes fatefully leads to marriage–I was flipping past a jewelry ad the other day that showed a nice lady weeping over a truffle with a big shiny diamond ring poking out of its innards while her beaming ball ‘n chain-to-be sat there looking supremely satisfied. I’m a deep thinker, so this made me ponder just how tacky I would find it if someone proposed to me by stuffing a huge diamond ring into a truffle, or a martini, or worst of all, my 40-day dry aged ribeye. “Keep your marriage-obsessed mitts off my meat!” I would scream, which would probably ruin what they call The Moment. But if The One stuck a ring into a Fleur de Lis croissant, all bets are on. Because nothing says I want to listen to your nonsense and no one else’s for all eternity like this exceptional Hollywood bakery’s croissants, cinnamon rolls, orange currant scones, and flaky plum crostatas.

Fressen Artisan Bakery

fressenholidaycakesquareConventional wisdom dictates that you consume baked goods as soon as possible, perhaps even while they are still in the oven, if you’re particularly impatient. Not so at Fressen, where Romanian-born and Bavarian-trained baker/owner Edgar Loesch advises shoppers to let his dense, layered Christmas cake, aka Stollen, rest before consumption, to deepen the marzipan, almonds, rum-soaked currants and orange peel flavors. If your craving is more the immediate type, stop by this cozy NE Portland café anyway–the Nutella croissants, sweet-savory Bavarian croissants, soft, chewy pretzel rolls, “Emperor’s” apple pancakes, and sandwiches made with Loesch’s fresh-baked whole grain European-style breads can, and should, be consumed on the spot.

Frice Pastry + Philippe’s Bread

fricepastrycoconuttartIf post-New Seasons opening, your final gripe about the culinary state of affairs on N. Williams was that it was missing a great bakery, behold this divinely doughy new superduo—Frice Pastry, helmed by St. Jack pastry chef Alissa Frice, andPhilippe’s Bread, helmed by French-born baker Philippe Garcia, which together equal Jen’s Dream. Sharing the building with new Lardo III, the light-filled space houses a shiny glass case protecting colorful rows of Frice’s caneles, sables, matcha yuzu chiboust, and caramelized apple bavarians from soon-to-be sticky fingers, and a full lineup of Garcia’s sublime breads—try the olive thyme loaf.

Grand Central Bakery

grandcentralcinnamonrollsAsk any Portlander what their favorite Grand Central Bakery treat is, and they won’t have to think long to answer. After all, with seven locations scattered about the city, most residents live within a five minute walk of one, and once you’ve entered their warm, fragrant baking lair, you’re pretty much hooked. Maybe your weakness is the monkey muffin, a gnarled pecan-studded marvel made up of croissant shreds and caramelized sugar. Maybe you’re a chocolate croissant, Irish soda bread, cinnamon roll, breakfast biscuit or Oregon bay shrimp roll wrangler. Me, I love the simit, an unusual swirled Turkish snack bread made of Peasant Levain dough dipped in raisin juice, then coated in sesame seeds and baked. They can be eaten a myriad ways both savory and sweet; my preferred method is to cut it in half, toast it, and spread with liberal amounts of mustard and an inch or so of Olympic Provisions’ Sweetheart ham. Like I said, hooked.

Hazel Room

hazelroomcookiesCozy can take you far in rain-besieged Portland, and this Sunnyside tea lounge has cozy to spare. Sharing a vintage bungalow on SE Hawthorne with eclectic boutique Mag-Big, The Hazel Room serves up more than 30 Townshend’s teas (straight or booze-infused) by the fireplace, as well as locally-sourced coffee, wine, beer, cordials and absinthe, along with an array of elegant salads, soups and sandwiches like the four-mustard egg salad, tamarind pork, and citrus-spiced cucumber with herbed cream cheese. And even if you and your sweet tooth are currently quarreling, don’t pass on the homemade rainbow, Linzer, or sea salted chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Seriously.

Jade Teahouse

jadeteahouseweddingcakeJade is not the contemplative nest of tranquility that might come to mind when one thinks “teahouse.” It is an aesthetic win, blessed with copious amounts of natural lighting and a tidy bamboo-fringed patio, and it’s a lively meeting place for all manner of local folk—toned Lycra short pants-wearing patrons of the nearby Sellwood Yoga studio having heart-to-hearts over prawn and pork-stuffed lettuce rolls, Eastmoreland Ladies Who Lunch taking an exotic grilled tofu salad-fueled minibreak, and stay-at-home moms and dads sharing platefuls of stir-fried rice noodles with towheaded pixies in pink cowboys boots whose swinging feet don’t quite reach the floor. The great unifier? The bright green pandan-dyed Vietnamese wedding cake, one of the many delightful pastries you’ll find in the case on any given day, and a unique delicacy that goes very well with a pot of one of Jade’s beautifully-curated 70+ teas.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery

kensfruittartsquareI spend a lot of time fantasizing about living in Paris, but when my Stumptown café au lait, the Sunday NYT and I claim a seat at this airy Alphabet District bakery’s big wood communal table and I tear a smoldering pain du chocolat from limb to limb, watching the warm chocolate ooze out from between the buttery fluttery layers of pastry, I’m thinking there’s no place like Portland. I savor my jambon and asiago baguette sandwich and lemon meringue tartlet, then before reluctantly heading home, order a half dozen dusty pink rosewater macaroons, piece of opera cake, slice of pear frangipane tart, and loaf of fresh walnut bread to go. Come Mondays, it’s tempting to spend the entire day here–the bakery stays open for pizza night, baking the exceptional thin crust pies that fuel nightly lines over at Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Southeast Portland. Even if I had the chance to move to Paris, how could I ever leave Ken’s?! Read full write-up>>

Little T American Baker

littlettartsThis sleek Division Street bakery is all concrete and glass and metal and shiny modern design, it looks more like a Design Within Reach showroom at first glance, until you take a deep breath of air filled with the smell of baking bread and a peek into the elegantly austere pastry case, which is most definitely the property of a bakery, and an exceptional one at that. Soft chewy molasses cookies covered in giant sugar crystals, flaky ginger scones, apricot danish, blueberry tarragon trifle, moist buttermilk crumb cake, peerless chocolate praline croissants, silky lemon and passion fruit tarts, and cupcakes that make you wish it was your birthday every day so you’d have an excuse for eating 365 of them a year. Read full write-up>>

Lovejoy Bakers

lovejoybakerssquaresammiePearl District residents, office workers and bread aficionados alike flock through the doors of this light and airy, thoughtfully-designed, delicious-smelling bakery for the delicious breads and lengthy lineup of sandwiches, salads, soups, and just-baked triple chocolate cookies, chewy chocolate brownies, flaky croissants, walnut-studded cinnamon gooey buns, pecan strudel coffee cake, and hazelnut orange danishes. Bring your New York Times/Utne/Marie Claire and linger over a Stumptown latte and ham and egg breakfast sandwich at an outdoor sidewalk table, or eat cerebrum-to-cerebrum with the brilliant creative minds of nearby Ziba Design and Keen Footwear at the T-shaped table across from the kitchen, or head outside to lounge in one of the comfy Adirondack chairs lining NW 10th Avenue.

Maurice

mauricecollagePosh restaurant pastry chef turned pastry luncheonette proprietress, Kristen Murray, has stepped in to save us all from a existence bereft of mango tarte tatin and cocoa puff palmiers by opening this sweet spot tucked down a pleasantly mellow tree-lined street in downtown’s happening West End neighborhood. Armed with a pastry background and aesthetic so impressive that entire shelves of sugar bags bow and curtsy in unison as she glides down the grocery store dry goods aisle, Kristen conjures up stunning sweet somethings like duck egg flan with chocolate consommé, geranium-scented pain perdu, and black pepper cheesecake with rhubarb-apple confiture and celery leaf gelée, served alongside craft cocktails and fine wines, on the heels of Maurice’s daytime “luncheonette” menu.

New Cascadia

newcascadiacookieFor brief spells in my gluten-loving life, I’ve attempted to live the GF lifestyle–during cleanses, after reading Kris Carr’s inspiring books, and once out of guilt caused by a rather severe bread binge that somehow resulted in me eating three Ken’s baguettes by myself over the course of 36 hours. It’s never stuck permanently, but something great came of these dietary forays–I discovered this beautiful bakery hidden away in the inner Southeast industrial district, such an unexpected oasis among the warehouses, auto shops and distilleries, that one’s wheat-dusted jaw drops a bit when confronted by the case of GF cookies and pastries, racks of breads, and long communal table of happy diners devouring slices of thin crust pizza and strawberry cream pie and vegan ice cream sandwiches made with coconut sorbet and chocolate brownies. And whether you’re GF by necessity or choice, that chocolate blood orange cupcake will taste just as sweet.

Nuvrei Patisserie & Cafe

nuvreimacaronssquare“Happiness is a ham and cheese croissant,” promised the sandwich board sitting outside Nuvrei. I happen to think happiness is a bottle of chilled cava, a swarthy Spaniard, and a lazy Spring afternoon in Barcelona, but I gamely followed the smell of sugar, spice and everything nice into this dreamy Pearl District bakery to find some of the best pastries in Portland, maybe in the universe. Tender, crumbly fruit and nut-studded scones, jewel-toned macarons, dark, dense Chocolate Chewy Cookies…and then there are the croissants. Filled with almond paste and dusted with powdered sugar, dripping with dark chocolate, or harboring fat slices of black forest ham and creamy béchamel sauce and topped with toasted gruyere shreds…who says you can’t buy happiness?

Pearl Bakery

photo-21Giving recommendations for must-eats at this pretty European-style Pearl District bakery is easy–I wholeheartedly endorse anything you might find in/on a cake pedestal, plate, shelf, or bread basket, a few of my favorites being the chocolate panini, walnut levain, almond croissant, cinnamon crown, espresso walnut brownie, lemon crème fraiche cake, macarons, huckleberry fromage blanc tart, and chocolates. Yes, Pearl Bakery makes their own line of chocolates, and they are predictably excellent. On a warm summer morning, take an hour before work and order a cappuccino and an almond croissant or piece of orange-rind studded gibassier bread, sit outside at a sidewalk tables, and read or watch passerby—it’s one of life’s greatest little joys.

Roman Candle Baking Co.

romancandlefeastMuch quieter and more legal than the other Roman candles you hang out with, this buzzy bakery, coffeehouse and pizzeria still puts off sparks, thanks to the wood-fired pizza oven and embankment of ovens putting out a steady supply of fresh-baked artisan breads and pastries, from flaky croissants and fresh berry danishes to delicate lemon tarts and raspberry dark chocolate tortas. It’s also an all-day affair–you can stop in at 7am for an espresso, zucchini citrus zest quick bread and buttery golden kouign amann, take your lunch break with a mortadella baguette sandwich or albacore tuna on light-as-air foccacia (plus a canele for dessert), and linger late into the evening with a good bottle of wine and wood-fired pizza bianca.

Sweedeedee

sweedeedeebunssquareAs fun to say as it is cute, funky, and downright delicious, this petite light-filled space sits quietly in a previously breakfast-barren stretch of North Albina Street, and from the moment they open the doors at 8am, the staff is cutting slices of ethereal homemade honey pie, doling out gooey sticky buns and blueberry cornmeal muffins, pouring hot cups of Extracto coffee into mismatched crockery, and dishing up hearty breakfast and lunch plates as fast as they can, to overjoyed neighborhood residents and gastro-tourists alike, all whom pack themselves into the handful of tables and window bar like happy hash-devouring sardines.

Sweetpea Baking Company

sweetpeaI wasn’t sure what to expect when I went into this vegan bakery for the first time. A group of PETA members wearing lettuce leaf bikinis sitting in the corner drinking lattes and eating sawdust muffins? Maybe. But that just shows my vegnorance, because what I actually found was a lovely little bakery with a case full of tasty pastries like raspberry almond linzer bars, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip scones, cupcakes and cakes–all of which appeared to be sawdust free, and many of which are gluten free too. They’ve also got sandwiches, soups and bowls, if you need a meal to go with your dessert. The coffee part of my erroneous fantasy was true enough, Stumptown is served here, and since coffee loves doughnuts, check out the homemade vegan doughnuts, Saturday mornings only.

Tabor Bread

taborbreadgalettesquareThose seeking a front-row view of an artisan loaf’s journey from yeast to feast need only perch at the wide stone bar facing this cozy Mt. Tabor bakery’s giant bread oven. (Mind the peel if you’re fond of your nose as is.) Since man and woman cannot allegedly live on bread alone (even house-milled, wood-fired whole grain bread), the pastry case is stacked with baked treats ranging from dark, dense little gingerbread cakes to streusel-topped cranberry oat muffins, and the sandwich menu is a thing of beauty; try the herbed egg salad with pickled celery, kale with Kalamata olives, fresh basil and goat fromage blanc, and on weekends, take advantage of the salmon toast special–lox, dill cream cheese, red onion and pickled vegetables on seeded dark rye toast.

Two Tarts Bakery

twotartscookiesI once read an article in Monocle magazine about the allure of tiny things and humanity’s seemingly innate love of all things small and cute, like puppies and midget weddings. Perhaps this explains my obsession with Two Tarts, the Alphabet District bakery devoted entirely to producing supercute Lilliputian cookies like cappucino creams, pistachio shortbreads, boysenberry almond rugelach and dark chocolate chews, under the auspice that “the simple satisfaction that comes from a jewel-sized treat is undeniably rich.” I’d have to agree, even though I once ate a whopping 14 Peanut Butter Creams one sitting, and if you’ve experienced the richness of a Hazelnut Baci, you know there’s nothing more joyful than a bakers dozen of Two Tarts cookies, except maybe a midget wedding.

Woodlawn Coffee & Pastry

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 2.18.12 PMFirehouse pastry chef Gretchen Glatte’s sweet and savory treats can be enjoyed all day long at Woodlawn Coffee and Pastry, a beautiful neighborhood coffeehouse and dessert catering kitchen right across the street from the restaurant. Relax with Stumptown coffee or a pot of Tao of Tea looseleaf, fresh-baked pastries like walnut anise scones and almond macaroons, and a slice of quiche or homemade pie. Or, place your order for an Oregon blackberry cake or corn syrup-free pecan bourbon pie.