The Pacific Northwest coffeeshop is an image burned deep in the minds of people everywhere (wherever Singles was released, anyway). It’s hard not to think of concrete floors that are strewn with papers, threadbare couches you don’t want to inspect too closely, skinny and beautiful baristas, and the sound of grinding beans and sizzling foam wands absorbed by an endless array of local art mounted on exposed brick walls.
Although Little T is more of a bakery than a coffeeshop, it shatters these expectations in a very Scandinavian way while still fulfilling its coffeeshop charge. The stainless steel is terrific at ricocheting noises back at human ears in that sort of psychically jarring way that drives you to seek therapy, and the floors—polished to a high shine—are strangely devoid of crumbs and dried mocha latte splatters. But the flowing wall of wood is downright lovely, and the minimalism is strangely soothing, perhaps because it’s pulled off with such brilliant attention to detail.
Above all, Little T focuses on the product of the only hearth it need concern itself with, and the bread fiends who sit peacefully at angular hardwood tables have no complaints (except, perhaps, for the one lonely power outlet).
The freshly baked bread here is uniformly excellent, no matter what type. A wonderful brown slice of spelt bread, which plays here like a Danish brown bread, is served with wild smoked Coho salmon, scallion crème fraîche, and dill; it’s one of the most perfect breakfasts or lunches in Portland. The heavier “Cowgirl Toast” is equally impressive, with an egg fried right inside of a cakey Sally Lunn with grilled bacon and cheddar cheese. A fruit spelt roll is absolutely amazing, the crust working in slightly charred harmony with a confit of farm-fresh berries.
The breads also take lunch sandwiches to the next level. An Italian grinder on seeded hoagie is sheer joy with provolone and a brilliant pepper salad. Even a simple turkey breast sandwich is superlative on this 7-grain carrot bread with cream cheese and apple chutney.
It’s been said that man cannot live by bread alone, but after visiting Little T, we don’t know how we ever lived without it. In light of the food and friendly service, this stark space is actually about as warm as it gets.
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