Crust Artisan Bakery - Bread to Rise Early For
Crust Artisan Bakery has opened on a very visible stretch of U.S. 98, near a big Methodist church (hey, how many times is bread mentioned in the Bible?), and offers bread, pastries, wood-fired pizzas and sandwiches morning to evening, six days a week.
My family and I ate at Crust on a recent weeknight, early enough to have the place to ourselves, briefly. In addition to dine-in service, Crust takes call-in orders and sells baked goods, sweet and savory, over the counter. I did not see any beer or wine for sale, but they offer tea, water and some interesting soft drinks, notably San Pellegrino lemon and blood orange sodas.
Owner/baker/server/cashier Kim invited us to sit and took our drink orders. The menu is written on a chalkboard, and there’s a printed one as well. There are some daily specials, and the baked items also vary.
The restaurant offers a couple of indoor tables, outdoor seating and some tables to the side on a small patio. There’s a cashier’s station, shelves and a glass case for bread and pastries. In the back, there’s a large open kitchen space dominated by a wood-fire oven. The décor is simple and tasteful, and they even play recorded jazz. The scent is just what you’d expect in a working bakery.
The menu offers pizzas, sandwiches and salads. Kim also told us she could make two pasta dishes that day if we preferred. My wife was inclined to pizza, I love a good sandwich and the Tiny Diner never met a bread she didn’t like. Kim brought us a basket of baguette slices, some olive oil and seasonings, and let us decide. TD is working on her fifth tooth, and crunchy bread crust is one of her favorite teething tools, especially since she can eat it after use.
Pizzas include margherita (tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil); a cheeseless marinara with oregano and sliced garlic; four cheese; arugula and prosciutto; Italian sausage with roasted red peppers and caramelized onion; spicy salami with black olives; wild mushroom with truffle oil, and a white pizza with goat cheese. Pizzas are 9-inch and 16-inch.
Sandwich choices are salami with sweet soppressata, pickled eggplant and mozzarella; prosciutto with roasted red pepper and mozzarella; grilled vegetable; and meatball with basil pesto and fontina. There’s also a mixed green salad and arugula with asiago lemon vinaigrette and toasted walnuts. The sandwiches come with a small salad. My wife ordered the prosciutto pizza (to share with TD), and I ordered the soppressata sandwich.
While we were waiting for the food, several customers came by to pick up orders, purchase what few pastries were left (they open at 7 a.m.), and dine on the patio. I noticed there were a few dessert items—one muffin and some chocolate croissants. When the muffin was sold, I made a mental note to move quickly if the croissants looked threatened.
I don’t eat soppressata that often, but when I do I like it to taste like what I had at Crust. It was thinly sliced, piled up and perfectly balanced by the sweet-tart pickled eggplant. The baguette was crunchy, tender and held the moist filling together securely. I offered some to the TD, but fortunately for me she had a mouthful of Mommy’s pizza.
Prosciutto shows up frequently on local menus, and it’s usually parceled out rather sparingly. Crust apparently didn’t get that memo, because their pizza was criss-crossed with thinly-sliced, sweet/ salty ham, along with roasted peppers, mozzarella and a handful of peppery fresh arugula, on a crunchy/chewy browned crust. My side salad was also arugula, with a lemony dressing. That, and a glass of blood orange soda (not too sweet, just bloody enough) was a fine meal for a warm summer night.
For dessert, we split a flaky croissant, laced with bittersweet chocolate, and had some house-made nut and dried fruit brittle that had a buttery, toffee-like quality.
I don’t care how sophisticated you are or where you have traveled, the scent of handmade, fresh-baked bread can stop you in your tracks. A yearning for too-hot-to-handle loaves, boules and baguettes of crusty, chewy baked goodness is embedded in our genes. As much as this area has to offer in the way of eats (seafood, seafood, seafood, to name a few attractions), fresh-baked bread can take some searching out. You have to haunt the farmers markets and specialty stores. Crust Artisan Bakery has done a great deal to simplify your life.
Review courtesy SoWal.com Partner The Beachcomber.