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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
8.0
8.0
$15
Baked goods, Sandwiches, Coffee
Café

Hours
Mon–Sat 7:00am–6:00pm
Sun 8:00am–5:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC

www.kensartisan.com

Northwest Portland
338 NW 21st Ave.
Portland, OR
(503) 248-2202
Ken’s Artisan Bakery
If the bread were this good at Communion, we’d all be Catholic

When you walk in the front door of Ken’s, a dizzying array of colors and shapes greets you from the glass case. Fluorescent macaroons, a rainbow of tarts, and caramel-colored croissants fight for your attention. On a nice day, large windows let in light and a breeze. The walls are painted in different shades of blue and yellow, making it feel more spacious than it really is. This really reminds us of a French bakery, even more so than the Disneyish version at St. Honoré. Inside and out are plenty of nice tables at which to indulge in some of the finest bread in town.

Made using some of the best flours, French sea salt, and—even more important—hours and hours of patience, Ken’s dough ferments slowly, developing great flavor and complexity. Sourdough is inspiring; the crust shatters, giving way to a rush of tangy piquancy, a perfect synergy of ingredients. This is what bread should taste like. You can also find pain rustique, a walnut baguette, huge crown loafs, country boule, Parisian baguette, and many other delicious types, depending on the day.

Given all this superlative bread, of course, sandwiches made here are wonderful. Pulled pork is loaded with lots of tender, moist meat and a somewhat sweet barbecue sauce. The accompanying slaw complements the sandwich with lots of raisins and a little bit of fresh thyme. A croque monsieur is filled with little waves of ham, Gruyère, béchamel, and more of that fresh thyme, all on a thin slice of fresh country bread. It’s outstanding, as is a braised and roasted beef sandwich with caramelized onions. All come with a bit of lightly dressed greens or a few tart, bursting blueberries.

The pastries are more of a mixed bag, unless you come early in the morning or on Saturdays, when they’re made fresh all day long. Some macaroons can be cloyingly sweet, and amandines are just pretty good—both can be stale-tasting at times. But croissants are marvelously layered and buttery, yet somehow never greasy. Pick one with Valrhona chocolate for an amazing foil to your Stumptown coffee and watch the parade of chic Portland pass by, oh so jealous of you.

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