On the blackboard behind the glass counter at her new bakery on Northeast Alberta Street, Kir Jensen has chalked "No guilt, just pleasure." You're going to need to buy into that philosophy, at least until your order is safely logged on the shop's iPad. Walk into the Sugar Cube like Corey Booker walks into a vegan strip club, and walk out with contact info for the decadent chocolate blackout ($6), three layers of soft, spongy cake and cocoa icing roofed by a thin layer of roasty caramel.
While the recipes are lavish, the Sugar Cube's space is minimalist: a half-dozen wood tables and a small high-top counter outfitted with kombucha by the jug and copies of Dwell and Real Simple.
It's a nice place in the breakfast hours, when you'll find toast topped by Portland-made, neighborhood-specific Bee Local honey and strata, an egg-and-bread casserole baked below a thick blanket of sharp cheddar. That strata ($6.50) will best any quiche in town with its flaky crust, juicy hunks of mushroom and bright pops of tomato.
But Jensen has always been best known for her desserts, which include the infamous "ultimate" brownie ($3.50), with rich ganache and olive oil, and the fluffy "crack" coffeecake muffins ($3.75), with marionberry and pecan-inflected streusel. I left the Sugar Cube with $26 worth of treats, and the best criticism any WW staffer could level at anything was a complaint about the lack of contrast between the citrus almond cake's hyper-lemony curd center and extremely lemony zest-heavy cake. But you couldn't buy two boxes of baked goods from any other place in town and have so many direct hits. Remember this as you order: no guilt, just pleasure.
- Order this: Chocolate blackout cake ($6) or strata ($6.50).
- Best deal: Cowgirl cookie ($2).
EAT: The Sugar Cube, 3039 NE Alberta St. 971-202-7135, thesugarcubepdx.com. 8 am-5 pm Wednesday-Sunday. $.