Why:Sugar and Salt Bakery, run by a mother and daughter baking/catering team, is in its second year as vendors at the Vancouver Farmers Market and just recently opened its first retail location. Owners Tierre Benton and Erica White have combined their baked items with café offerings at the quaint downtown Vancouver location that opened for business on June 7. Hand-rolled croissants and fresh-baked ciabatta rolls are just a couple of the bakery's specialties. Baked goods are crafted with real butter, organic sugar and pesticide-free flour.
Atmosphere: Sugar and Salt has a sort of urban-meets-farmhouse appeal. Corrugated metal siding wraps around the counter and the perimeter as wainscot below the blue painted walls. Tables are diagonally striped in red and white. Behind the counter where food preparation and baking is done, cornflower yellow and milk chocolate brown complete the colorful, yet soothing color scheme. A few booths are situated along the large front windows that look out onto McLoughlin Boulevard and tables and chairs provide more seating on the open floor. There are also a couple of bistro-style tables on the sidewalk outside. Baked goods are attractively displayed in a glass case and jars atop the counter.
What I tried: I picked up a roasted turkey sandwich on a ciabatta roll for lunch and brought home a variety of baked items to try: two cupcakes, a gluten-free brownie, a lemon poppyseed scone, baked oatmeal, and a tomato/pesto/parmesan puff pastry.
I was fortunate enough to arrive as the ciabatta rolls were just coming out of the oven. Since I ordered my sandwich to go, by the time I got around to eating it, it was too late to pick up a few extra rolls. This was much to my disappointment after I tasted how delicious the roll was. I normally avoid a ciabatta roll as a sandwich bread because they tend to have a pretty tough exterior and are often either too chewy or dry for my liking, but Sugar and Salt's was perfectly suited for the sandwich: soft, moist, and firm enough not to yield too much to handling yet easy enough to chew. I chose provolone, tomato, mixed greens, sliced cucumbers, and mustard to accompany the roasted turkey on the sandwich. The meat was exceptionally delicious. The other ingredients were fresh, wholesome and in balance, and the cucumbers really bumped it up a notch.
Of the pastries I took home, my favorites were the tomato/pesto/parmesan puff pastry for its hearty, tasty quality and delicate composition, and the lemon poppyseed scone, which is made with a scrumptious center of layered lemon curd and sweet cream cheese filling.
One of the cupcakes was strawberry, the other chocolate. The strawberry was topped with fresh strawberry and the chocolate with a drizzle of caramel. The cake was dense and not overly sweet and the frosting had an unusual whipped texture and very sweet profile.
The baked oatmeal had peaches and strawberries incorporated into the mix before baking. It is cut into squares and appears much like a giant square breakfast cookie. The flavor is similar to a breakfast cookie as well.
Although I'm not a gluten-free person, I do like comparing gluten-free foods for flavor and appeal. I found Sugar and Salt's brownie of this variety to be moist, with a rich, chocolaty flavor and a dense texture. It was frosted with the same sort of whipped, airy frosting found on the cupcakes, though I preferred it without the frosting.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Biscuits and gravy is served Fridays and Saturdays. Belgian waffles with fresh fruit, honey butter, and housemade syrup are served for breakfast on the weekends.
Bread pudding topped with a caramel sauce is served in a paper cup and looked very intriguing.
Fresh baked pies are available every day and come in a personal, 6-inch size, and a to-share 9-inch size.
Other observations: The service was personable and the atmosphere welcoming.
The only downside to my visit was the air quality inside. It reminded me of Quiznos, where they don't clear the pans of food debris well enough before repeatedly sending them through the oven, which puts a lingering, burnt edge on the air. It wasn't quite as severe at Sugar and Salt, but it was present.
Cost: Sandwiches are $7 and $7.50. Pies cost $7 for the 6-inch and $18 for the 9-inch. A 6-inch quiche costs $8. Muffins, croissants, Danish, and scones are $2 to $3.50. Cupcakes are $2 and $3. Ice cream sandwiches are $5, as is bread pudding with caramel sauce. Ciabatta rolls are $1 each. Fresh fruit and granola parfaits are $4.50. Biscuits and sausage are $5 and Belgian waffles are $7 with housemade syrup or $8 with organic syrup.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Where: 207 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver.
Health score: Sugar and Salt Bakery has received a pre-opening 1nspections and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.