I suspect that some magnetic field may be responsible, but imo, Portland has become the Bakery/Patisserie Capital of New England ! This is only a partial review of the scene, but oh what a part!
Little Bigs - This tiny couple-powered bakery, packed to the gills with beautiful and broad-ranging ,fresh-from-the-ovens product , had me gobsmacked from the moment we walked in their door. Their offerings are their pride, and they are indeed amazing. Whether you are biting into croissant or danish dough, pate sucree or puff pastry, you will know right away that these people TRAINED something serious to learn their art. The substantial Savory Hand Pies vary daily (think 1= lunch, as in BBQ shredded Pork, Curried Chicken and Vegetable [check Facebook for daily offerings]) and (in a very unusual claim from me) the sweet things can be extraordinary >> Maple Glazed deep fried Choux pastry knots (crunchy on the outside and moist inside, w/ or w/o bacon); Brown butter and cream Pecan Squares (just sweet enough; no corn syrup here); Citrus cream donuts glazed w/ dark chocolate...... I can't wait to return but I also feel wicked lucky that I don't live around the corner ("We Pass This Way But Once" being my fateful moniker.)cl.Tues.
Scratch Bakery- "Did I mention- I'm not a cake girl" I tried to tell the counter server; I really did. But then I folded, and later consumed, the single best slice of cake that this non-cake-eating girl has ever had- Scratch Bakery's Lemon Blackberry Cake. Light, tender, very flavorful, and not too sweet. And then there was the Corn Pot de Crème with Blueberry glaze, the sandy shortbread, and........ Now that we've discovered the wonders of Fort Williams Park, I see both Scratch and Little Big's being on our regular visitor rotation as well.
( Somehow, I just never realized before that South Portland is only a ~5 minute drive from Old Port. This pair of very special bakeries- Little Big's and Scratch, plus the various nearby ocean edge parks and lighthouses - really should be in the Top 5 To-Do's of every Portland visitor.)
Ten Ten Pie- after major ODs at the above spots, we only tried 2 things here. Didn't care for the pork and kim chee bun (but then, I'm not a kim chee fan) but the butternut squash chevre pumpkin seed tart- was tender and well-balanced in flavor. Ten Ten specializes in Asian influenced items and I'm anxious to return. (I hope to find Green Tea and Adzuki bean offerings!)
Standard Baking- Walking into Standard Baking is like walking into that iconic photo of beautiful abundance on the cover of the Silver Palate (red book). The epitome of 'bountiful' like everyone's dream bakery might be. Fully stocked baskets, tiered stands etc of both savories and sweets, and a back wall backdrop of assorted breads. There's always a line, but customers and servers are patient and polite, and, with a server focused on you, things move along pretty quickly. Blueberry scones are moist, tender, packed with fruit. Chocolate hazelnut financiers are, like the other sweets there, just sweet enough. Ditto shortbreads, chocolate sables, and all their moist chewy cookies. Prices all seem reasonable and sizes generous. The most senior of Portland's quality artisinal bakeries, Standard sets the standard for others to follow.Wow. They should have T shirts that say <Famous for a Reason>!
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