Grand Central Bakery

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(Photo courtesy of http://www.tripadvisor.com)

Grand Central Bakery. The name rings in a lot of people’s ears as a standout of true artisan pastries and breads. Last Saturday I headed over to the Hawthorne Blvd. location with my mom for a little prelude to my Tuesday birthday.

Inside the bakery, it was brightly lit with wooden chairs and tables. Charming, warm, and welcoming. It was also extremely busy, but somehow the place still kept a neat, tidy look.

The menu consisted of a selection of classic sandwiches, tostis (I suppose ‘twas a fancy word for panini-type things), salads, and soups. Paninis have always been at the top of my favorite foods so I decided to order the Mediterranean tosti. Hot Calamata Olive bread sandwiched layers of house-made tomato relish, melted Havarti cheese, basil and vinaigrette.

As I hungrily dived into the tosti, I enjoyed the sound of a faint crunch from the toast and was surprised by the cascade of gooey goodness from the cheese. The tosti was like the elite version of a grilled cheese sandwich with its European style and haven of spices. And the bread wasn’t just any Wonder Bread—it was a sourdough with bits of fresh black olives and rosemary along with a wonderfully chewy crust.

My mom ordered the Baja chicken salad, which featured chopped lettuce tossed together with a jalapeno citrus dressing (I especially loved the tangy lime), tender chicken, red bell peppers, red onions, and crisp, crunchy jicama. I thought that the salad was overall refreshing and yet hearty enough for a person’s ravenous appetite. My mom did note that it was surprising that there was an absence of avocado—perhaps that would be a good addition  to consider? I do admit that I used to turn up my nose at salad, but upon a revelation at Grand Central, I think salads are vegetable art, essentially–the colors have to fit together and also taste beautifully. (I do apologize; there goes my little random blurb of deep, deep sayings of the day. Deeeeep.)

After eyeing the row of pastries, we decided to bring home a jammer scone to eat for a midafternoon snack. It had a delightfully crumbly and buttery texture, and the mound of raspberry jam on the top added a nice sweetness to complete the scone.

At the same time, we also couldn’t resist bringing home some bread. So we bought a piccolo como loaf with a spongy, chewy interior and a rustic golden crust. I honestly sat down and ate several slices straight up as a snack, no butter or any toppings. As Bruno Mars might say, it was amazing “just the way it was”.

Website: http://www.grandcentralbakery.com/

Locations:

440 NE Fremont Portland, OR 97213

714 N. Fremont Portland, Or 97227

4440 NE Fremont Portland, OR 97213

2230 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214

1444 NE Weidler St. Portland, Or 97232

3425 SW Multnomah Blvd. Portland, OR 972219

2249 NW York Portland, Or 97210

7987 SE 13th Portland, OR 97202

(Also locations in Seattle).

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