The idea of having lunch in a bakery, basking in the sweet aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries, lured us to The Bread Basket Bakery on a recent Saturday.
The bakery is run by Matt Tallman and his family. Matt presides over the deli side of the operation, and his brother Chad is the chief pastry chef. It’s a family operation, and spouses, other siblings and parents are also involved. Besides the bakery and lunches, which they’ve been offering for about two years, they also provide catering.
The location is a handsome building distinguished by its dark blue canopies and offering lots of parking in the rear where there is a handicapped accessible ramp. Inside, we found racks of bread and rolls and glass-fronted cases full of muffins, cupcakes, pies and pastries. Tables are arrayed around the walls. You place your order with the staff, pay for it and then take a table, and they bring your food. Our orders arrived quickly.
On a dank winter afternoon, we wanted hot soup, which is offered in two varieties each day — hearty vegetable and a second choice. We arrived about 1:30 p.m. and they were offering only the hearty vegetable — so we ordered a cup. It was a disappointment, a sweet tomato broth that tasted like condensed soup with what seemed like previously frozen vegetables. On other days, their menu says, the soup choices might include a corn chowder, a mushroom barley or roasted cauliflower, which sound like a better idea.
The sandwiches, on the other hand, were quite good. We chose the soup and half-sandwich combination ($6.99), but you can also get soup and a whole sandwich ($8.99) or you can “build your own” sandwich by selecting from a smorgasbord of fillings and condiments. There are four signature salads as well. So you’re likely to find something that appeals to you.
I chose the Congress Park Chicken, a chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts with greens in a tangy sauce and served on the bakery’s own honey wheat bread. It was an enjoyable mix of textures and flavors, and the bread was especially good.
My lunch date’s reaction was similar. Her choice was called Angelina’s Apples, maple-glazed turkey with cheddar cheese, thinly sliced apples, tart cranberry mustard and sprouts on the bakery’s old-fashioned potato bread.
Other sandwich choices that got my attention were the Lemon Tarragon Tuna Salad, an original creation with “hints of sunflower seeds, sweet relish, tarragon and celery for texture,” on honey wheat bread, and The Magnificent Magnetto, consisting of roast beef, Black Forest ham, Genoa salami, provolone cheese, Italian dressing artichoke spread and roasted red peppers on garlic basil bread.
There are non-meat choices, too, like the Joanie Zamboni, which features cucumbers, Muenster cheese, tomato, sprouts and roasted garlic mayonnaise on the bakery’s high-fiber, five-seed bread.
There are four basic salads or you can build your own by selecting various greens, meats and cheeses. The Awe Nuts! Fall Harvest Salad sounded interesting, consisting of greens with tomatoes and cucumbers, toasted walnuts, toasted almonds and toasted sunflower seeds. Dressings include the standards and a house-made balsamic vinaigrette.
We sampled some of the baked goods, too. The challah bread was especially nice — tender and not overly sweet, and a lemony scone with currants proved a delicious diversion. (Isn’t it delightful when you find a scone that isn’t as dry as an old baking powder biscuit?) Two little frosted cupcakes, however, left something to be desired, perhaps coming from the day before’s production.
Our total tab, for sandwiches and soup, sodas, a sampling of bakery items, and a tip came to a modest $25.75.
In “The Food Snob’s Dictionary — An Essential Lexicon of Gastronomical Knowledge” by David Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld (Broadway Books, 2007), you’ll find a list of “Food Snobs’ Guilty Pleasures.” It’s six things that food snobs like, even though they’re not supposed to. The top two are Jif peanut butter (Skippy, too) and hot dogs. On the latter, they write, “Snobs will demur and say that they only care for all-natural versions made without nitrites. Except that they’re lying.”
The Bread Basket Bakery
WHERE: 65 Spring St., Saratoga Springs. Phone 587-4233
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (for lunch).
HOW MUCH: $25.75
MORE INFO: Handicapped accessible. Children’s menu. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.