Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Lucky for us we love breakfast food and Portland is a hotbed of breakfast deliciousity. Right near the top of our must-visit list for a while now has been a place called Bakery Bar on NE Glisan between 29th and 30th. They also have a second location on SE Water St (now closed!). The menus are slightly different, I believe.
After reading so many good things in various outlets online we headed over there around 11am on a Saturday fully expecting a long line. Surprisingly, there was no line at all. We must have arrived at just the right time because there were plenty of people eating (though there were still tables) who had already ordered, and then by the time we finished ordering there was a line of three people behind us. It was so slow at the moment we walked in, actually, that one of the cooks who was straightening things up came up and offered some insight to the menu when we couldn't decide what we wanted.
The first thing we ordered was a mint mocha. They make all of their own syrups for their coffee drinks which not only makes it seem fresher but also lets Bakery Bar make the flavors unique. If I recall right the coffee was Stumptown. The mocha was excellent, with a light mintiness very few others I've had could match. The mint leaf in my drink probably helped, though it was unexpected.
We then both ordered egg sandwiches, bypassing the more intricate things on the menu for this first outing. Wifey ordered the number 5, which is a fried egg, cheddar, and bacon-apple-carmelized onion jam, while I ordered a number 6 - fried egg, pastrami, gruyere, and reuben sauce. They offer your choice of housemade English muffins or a black pepper buttermilk biscuit for the sandwich, so Wifey got the biscuit and I ordered the muffin. To go with the sandwiches we also ordered rosemary scallion hashbrowns.
The hashbrowns were excellent. They weren't necessarily as cooked as I would prefer - I like just a tad more crunch - but they weren't underdone by any means and the flavors of the rosemary and scallions mixed with shredded potatoes was excellent. Normally I'd drop a little salt and a little pepper on my hashbrowns, top them with a little ketchup, but not these guys. It's a good thing I tasted them first because they literally needed nothing added to them. From a guy who loves his ketchup, that's saying something...
Both the English muffin and the biscuit were very good. I wasn't sure if the black pepper would be too much, because the way they called it out in the menu I was expecting something peppery. In truth I couldn't pick out the pepper at all, though I could see the black flecks. Both breads were light and fluffy.
The eggs were cooked just right, allowing the yolk to drip out a bit on the first bite. The bacon on Wifey's was actually a bacon jam, something we had read about but never tried - and it actually was really, really good. Sure, you don't get the bacon crunch in a bite, but you don't miss it either. I had never had a reuben, but with pastrami and gruyere didn't figure it could be too bad - and it was awesome. The pastrami was well cooked, the sauce the right amount to accentuate the flavors, and everything was excellent.
How excellent? Well... Bakery Bar is also known for their cakes, which they do for weddings or any other special occasions. They also have some ready and waiting in case you need one, which we actually kind of did for a birthday the next day. We knew we were on the lookout for something, and that something became a red velvet cake that was staring at us from the case throughout the entire meal. A small cake - worked out to be eight slices - for $18 seemed like a pretty good deal, so we got back in line - and it was a long line this time - to get that. Back in line, we also picked out an apple-bacon scone to take home and have later with a little coffee.
Sadly, the cake was just okay. The presentation was amazing, tall and regal, it had white buttercream frosting on the outside and red velvet cake layered with cream cheese frosting on the inside. It was topped with really well made sugar flowers with a purple ribbon of fondant around the bottom. The cream cheese frosting was pretty good, but the amount of frosting in general really overpowered the cake - and the buttercream tasted more buttery than creamy and sweet. My preference is to have more sweet and creamy with an aftertaste of buttery, not the other way around. The cake itself was good and overall it was hardly bad - we've just had better.
The scone, on the other hand, was pure dreamy goodness. I don't know why, but my first impression what that apple and bacon in a scone was an odd combination. When am I going to learn that there is no bad combination when one of the ingredients is bacon?! The bacon flavor was in every bite, but it wasn't overpowering, and it meshed quite nicely with the sweet and cinnamon of the apple. Plus, it was drizzled with maple frosting which just added to the overall goodness.When we go back, this is the first thing coming out of my mouth when I order.
Do we recommend Bakery Bar? Oh yes, definitely yes, and we'll be going back. Or maybe we'll try the other location. Or, more likely, we'll do both.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day you know.