A taste of the tropics

Bakeries are popping up all over Portland like mushrooms after a spring rain–but sometimes it takes a bit of time for a bakery to flourish.

Bakeries are popping up all over Portland like mushrooms after a spring rain–but sometimes it takes a bit of time for a bakery to flourish.

That is the case with Bakery/Bar, a bakery that has been open since 2005 in close-in industrial Southeast Portland. Visits in the first year of operation were not memorable–pastries were similar to those found all around town.

More recently, Bakery/Bar has hit its stride, baking confidently with a more inspired and individual sense of mastery.

Stacks of scones, cupcakes and coffeecake are lined up to peruse straight ahead from the front door, and coconut seems to be a favorite ingredient. Dotted on top of devil’s food cupcakes, mixed into scones and incorporated into creampuffs, coconut graces some of this establishment’s best treats.

Coconut scones are a perfect crunchy texture outside with a soft, buttery interior. Topped with a dripping coconut glaze, nothing interferes with the delicate nut’s flavor, so easily overpowered. Never dry or over-baked, these bakers have molded this tender dough with an expert touch that can take years to acquire.

Head over to the cold case (past the register) and you’ll find a coconut cream puff so heavy, so big, I just had to take it home and weigh it. Almost half a pound, the dark chocolate shell on top of this pastry is of high quality, melting easily and contrasting nicely with the creamy custard inside. Roughly the size of a softball, there is no right way to eat this goo-filled shell of tender pastry without the insides exploding all over the place. Darn shame.

Too much for one person, this treat cries out for messy, gooey sharing. Be prepared, with sink and napkins nearby! Reasonably priced at $3.50.

Check out the rest of the cold case for other delights. A banana cream tart oozed caramel inside a bittersweet chocolate-lined tart crust, piled with fresh bananas and thick whipped cream. Citrus tarts have the requisite pucker, paired with a buttery, though not quite crisp, crust.

This is the place for a small, lovely birthday cake. At just $12 for a tiny cake that serves four (or fewer, depending on your appetite), it is a bargain that is sure to impress. Cakes are also available in larger sizes and for advance orders.

Bakery/Bar’s light-filled, industrial space encourages lingering, if you are lucky enough to get a seat at one of a handful of tables. Weekend mornings are especially busy, but afternoons are mostly empty.

Bakery/Bar also serves sandwiches, basic salads and soup for lunch.

Bakery/Bar1028 S.E. Water Ave.503-546-8110

Monday–Friday, 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed Sunday


Two tropical treats to try

Trader Joe’s, pineapple bar

There’s pineapple juice, and of course, who could live without pi퀌�a coladas? But now pineapple comes in fruit-leather form, perfect for munching in the middle of class. Containing nothing other than the fruit itself, this bar is full of intense flavor. Delicious, fat-free and just 59 cents.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery, pineapple amandine tart

A spongy layer of ground almonds is topped with thin slices of fresh pineapple, caramelized from the oven’s heat. Crispy and tender, the tart crust’s integrity has been preserved because the finished product hasn’t been refrigerated. Would be even better topped with ice cream or cr퀌�me fra퀌�che. At $2.95, a reasonable price.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery338 N.W. 21st Ave.503-248-2202