Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lunch | Flour Bakery & Café

I made a little 24-hour trip to Beantown at the end of last week. Marcus and I had been planning to make a trip up to Boston sometime this year, so when Marcus had a three-day conference to attend, it was the golden opportunity. Instead of making two separate trips (a four to five hour bus ride is a long way!), I thought it'd be easiest if we went up a day earlier together so we could have time to check the city and squeeze in some quality Boston eats while we were there. Our first stop upon arriving was to Flour Bakery & Café over in the South End.

After watching the episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay featuring the bakery's sticky buns together, Marcus and I both agreed that we needed to go there whenever we visit Boston. I had been to Flour three years ago (I had seen the episode before watching it again with Marcus), and I really enjoyed it, so I definitely wanted to go back. We also attended a book signing together last year where we got to meet Chef Chang and learn more about Flour and its recipe. Since then, we've really come to admire her personality as a celebrity chef as well as her mission at Flour.

We decided to go to Flour Bakery & Café over on the South End. I really love the bakery's logo -- it is so creative and fitting!

View of the counter at Flour from the seating area.

The menu wall over at Flour. The handwriting is so playful as are the illustrations.

Also love this little mantra set atop the entrance into the bakery's kitchen -- "Make life sweeter . . . eat dessert first!" Along with this, there is a daily weather report as well as a weekly quotation written regularly.

Offering of daily specials at Flour, including a daily tartine, soup, quiche, stuffed bread, and pizza!

Assortment of sweets and desserts on display at the counter.

And last, but not least, the (in)famous sticky-sticky buns that kicked Chef Bobby Flay's butt in the episode of Throwdown!

For lunch, I decided to have the grilled roast chicken sandwich with brie, arugula, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions. I think what I liked most about this sandwich was the bread. With any grilled sandwich or panini, the bread that holds its contents all in place is very important. Without fresh bread and a nice toasted crunch, a sandwich is hardly a sandwich at all. At best, it is then just layers of meaningless meat, vegetables, and condiments. Now, the country bread used here at Flour was the perfect combination of toastedness and freshness. Each bite had a distinctly loose collapsing crunch while all of the sandwich's contents kept in place without the need of those cocktail toothpicks with the colored cellophane frills on the end. The roasted chicken was super moist, allowing for the creamy, melted brie to soak right in with the color medley of veggies.

Marcus had the egg sandwich served on foccacia roll with cheddar, tomato, arugula, dijonnaise, and choice of ham/bacon (Marcus chose the applewood bacon). What Marcus really liked about this egg sandwich was that it was more of a "sandwich" than the breakfast sandwiches he's had at various places (fast food joints, diners, etc.). What does this mean exactly? Well, Marcus found that the egg sandwich at Flour had the perfect balance of carbohydrates, egg, meat, cheese, and accoutrement, as each part did not steal the spotlight from another. These other sandwiches to which Marcus refers are typically egg-heavy, which overshadowed the flavors of other ingredients at hand with egg. With that being said, it was nice to finally see an egg sandwich done well. The artisan foccacia roll was a nice deviation from the usual biscuit, English muffin, and bagel.

For dessert, Marcus and I shared a sticky-sticky bun with dark, sticky caramel and toasted pecans. Essentially, this sticky-sticky bun is like a slice of pecan pie in pastry roll form. The topping was savory and sweet, and the pecans gave it a good nutty crunch. The roll part was also done really well -- soft and buttery. It definitely lived up to the hype and how I remembered it from my first visit. I would recommend sharing this with a few people so that you can get a taste without filling up on just this. That is, unless all you are eating is the sticky-sticky bun, then you're set! :P

Being the cookie fiend that he is, Marcus couldn't resist ordering two cookies, one traditional and one unique: a peanut butter cookie (creamy peanut butter and chopped nuts) and a cornmeal lime cookie. While it was a little too much for me, peanut butter fanatics (like Marcus) will love the peanut butter cookie as it is not only baked with peanut butter throughout, but also contains chopped peanuts! The cornmeal lime cookie was certainly different from any cookies I've had before. Sure I've had ones made from cornmeal, but never one that had fresh lime zest baked right in! To me, it tasted (in the best way possible) like Fruit Loops cereal -- similar to the taste sensation I had with the kaffir lime ice cream Marcus and I had at Kin Shop a couple years ago. The cookie itself was very fragile and crumbly, which is definitely attributable to the cornmeal, but the citrus glaze makes up for that. Apparently, the cornmeal lime cookie just made a recent reappearance at Flour, so we caught it just in time!

Findings: I think Flour Bakery & Café is great. I love everything about it -- from its interior (the chalkboard wall menu, the illustrations, the colors, etc.) to its assortment of café-style offerings (sandwiches, soups, salads, etc.) to its desserts that bring you back to the sweets that invaded your childhood tenfold. Everything we had was absolutely delicious and very well made/assembled/baked, so much so that I ate there again the next day for lunch before heading back to Manhattan. It is also awesome to know that Chef Chang began her career not in the culinary and pastry arts but in studying Mathematics and Economics at Harvard.

Our visit to Chef Joanne Chang's bakery was relaxing, comfortable, and just plain fun, which embodies everything the bakery's byline stands for: "Make life sweeter . . . eat dessert first!" Only difference was we saved dessert until the end. You know what they say -- always save the best for last! :P

Price point: $6.50-7.95 for each sandwich, $1.75-2.95 for each dessert.

--April 5, 2012

Flour Bakery & Café
1595 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118



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