The Breakfast Serial

The Showstopper. photo/Dan Zarin

Bread & Friends
505 Fore St., Portland

Sometimes I finish a meal and tell myself, I have to go home right now and write my review so I don’t forget anything. Not this time. 

It’s been nearly a week since I ate at Bread & Friends, and I still remember every detail perfectly. And not just my own meal — I can instantly call to mind even those bites I stole from my friends’ plates. 

I’ve always loved the brick building at 505 Fore St., near the John Ford statue in the Old Port. Recently occupied by a pizzeria, its interior has been redesigned and refreshed by Bread & Friends. But the real star here is the food, and goddamn, does it shine.

My wife and I met some friends there early on a warm, sunny Sunday morning. I leaned into the summer vibes with a strong, smooth, cold-brew coffee ($5), while my friends enjoyed a cortado ($4.50) and a hot coffee ($3.75). My wife was intrigued by the smoked maple rosemary latte ($6.50) and loved the complex flavor of the rich, lightly sweet beverage.

Bread & Friends’ bakery pop-ups at the Cumberland Farmers’ Market have long been known for their long lines of loyal fans, so a pastry course seemed the best way to start our meal. First up was a savory danish ($6): buttery pastry filled with ricotta, caramelized onions, and herbs. Next we devoured a pop tart ($5.50) with coffee pastry cream and dulce de leche icing. The ginger pull-apart ($5.50) was crispy on the outside, soft and sticky in the middle, and nicely spiced. Like the pop tart, it was perfectly flaky and not excessively sweet.

Rather than choose just one entrée, my wife built a meal of small plates and sides. Deviled eggs with funky black vinegar, spicy chili crisp and a generous pile of shaved parmesan ($5) were an inspired riff on the classic party appetizer and a powerful flavor bomb. A fresh, lightly dressed herb and fennel salad ($6) was the perfect foil for fried potatoes ($6), whose shatteringly crisp outsides and pillowy interiors reminded us of the potatoes at Palace Diner in Biddeford (my highest homefry compliment).

After one bite of soft scrambled eggs with caramelized onion jam and seeded sourdough toast ($13), my friend Jen declared them, “the absolute best scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten.” On top of the creamy, custardy eggs and sweet onions, a light sprinkle of flaky salt amped up the flavors and added a subtle crunch.

Jen’s husband ordered crispy red bliss potatoes ($15) with a perfect sunny-side-up egg; paper-thin slices of smoky, spicy, Spanish chorizo sausage; and a vibrant and herbaceous green chermoula sauce. He doesn’t think I saw him quietly doing a happy dance in his chair between bites, but … busted, Ted.

My dish was a true showstopper: ricotta, jamón ibérico (a decadently fatty and nutty-tasting cured ham), peach mostarda, hazelnuts and pickled mustard seeds with warm, crusty focaccia ($16). I tore off bits of bread and piled it high with a little of everything, creating what I can only describe as perfect bites. It was a symphony of contrasts: soft and crunchy, warm and cool, sweet, salty, funky, fatty and acidic. 

On our way out, we picked up a loaf of olive bread ($9.50), which would become our dinner later that day, and a jar of tomato jam ($12) for a meal to be named later. My wife and I are already planning our next visit, eager to share another spectacular meal and break bread with more friends. 

Bread and Friends is open Thursday through Monday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

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