"Get Your Buns In Here!" This command was printed on the T-shirt that my friend was required to wear to her job at a popular bakery in a mountain resort town. The double entendre runs through my mind whenever I see some nice-lookin' buns—like those belonging to Little T American Baker.
Opened in early June by Tim Healea, Little T is in the new Clinton Condominiums on Southeast Division Street, in a sleek, light-filled space that still manages to remain warm and inviting.
What makes Little T American? The label refers to Healea's desire to bake varieties of bread beyond Western European staples like baguettes and Italian foccacias. Indian naan, for example. The bakery also updates items not typically thought of as "artisan." A cakey, briochelike "Sally Lunn" bread, an old U.S. recipe, bookends bacon and produce for a high-end B.L.T., and Little T's doughnut ($2.25) is studded with currants and baked, not fried.
Healea, longtime head baker at Pearl Bakery (and recently at Kenny & Zuke's), has earned a well-deserved reputation for his artisan breads, taking home a silver medal at the 2002 World Cup of Baking. So it's no surprise that the breads at Little T shine: a basic baguette ($2.50) takes on an almost eggy springiness (even though it contains no egg), spelt bread ($4.25/half loaf) is earthy and full-flavored, and foccacia-like "slabs" in both herbed and sea-salt varieties ($3/$4 with olives) are rustic and satisfying. A crusty seven-grain carrot bread ($3.50, also available in rolls, $1.75) and "pretzel bread" ($1.75) offer a departure from more common bakery offerings.
On the sweeter side of the menu, a "less is more" approach dominates. Don't come looking for cupcakes topped with mountains of pastel frosting. Instead, try the pecan toast ($2.25), in which an entire surface of a slice of the Sally Lunn is loaded with a nutty spread. The thin, butter crust of the chocolate tart ($3.50) houses a filling that, while indeed luscious and creamy, leans more toward pudding than mind-blowingly rich ganache. The butterscotch blondie ($2, coyly named the "Debbie Harry") is nice, but the perfectly moist and dense traditional chocolate brownie ($2) is the one that disappeared most quickly from our plate.
As an ardent adorer of a traditional oatmeal-raisin cookie, I was less amused by the "Big T Granola Cookie" ($1.50), which blasphemously employs white chocolate chips—totally not cool.
Still hungry? Sandwiches ($6-$6.50), including the B.L.T. as well as roasted veggie and a Muffaletta, are all hearty. Side salads are $2, and housemade soups will soon be available.
The verdict? You should get your buns (and loaves and cookies) in here—and then in your belly.
Little T American Baker, 2600 SE Division St., 238-3458. Breakfast and lunch 7 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday, 8 am-2 pm Sunday. $ Inexpensive.