Of all its oddities, perhaps the most unique trait of the German language is its brevity. A lot is said with a little. Consider words like "weltschmerz"—the sense of existential sadness caused by knowing the world is screwed—or "schadenfreude," the feeling of joy one receives when adversaries finally get what's coming to them.
Another is "heim," which refers to the emotions one attaches to the concept of "home." It is a fitting designation for Heim, the German bakery that opened last month in the former Roseway Play Cafe space.
Decked out in hanging plants, signs bearing humorous aphorisms about baking, and a hodgepodge of furniture that's not the least bit of ashamed of its thrift-store origins, Heim will remind you of the first time you set foot in the first post-college apartment of a quirky friend who refused to let budgetary constraints inhibit his swag. It's like a Belle and Sebastian song come to life.
But don't count on everything at Heim being so precious.
After honing her craft over the past few years selling breads and pastries at farmers markets, as well as a stint behind the counter at King neighborhood bakery Bushel and Peck, proprietor Jennifer Plitzko opened Heim with the intention of using hearty brunch standards to get Portland hooked on her bread.
Plitzko's sourdough comes in its most basic form as an accompaniment to the vegetable hash ($12), which consists of a fried egg perched atop roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli and bacon. It's a dish whose simplicity is belied by its complex flavors, alternating ever so slightly between richness, starch and delicacy within the same bite. But what's most notable is the side of sourdough that humbly occupies the space beside the hash. With a pillowy texture that's still taut and chewy in all the right places, it is bound to give big shots like Ken's and Lovejoy Bakers a run for their money in the coming months.
That same sourdough appears in a waffle Plitzko refers to as "Herman." Available in both savory and sweet options—the latter just shifted to fall ingredients like apple compote, toasted hazelnut dust and maple syrup—it's likely to become Heim's flagship menu item once supply catches up to demand.
Rounded out by a handful of savory items like a seasonal sandwich ($12), which currently features prosciutto and butternut squash chutney under a fried egg, or one of the more generous avocado toast spreads in town ($6 alone, plus $2 for egg and $3 for bacon), Heim will be a hit with both the itinerant brunch circuit and the swath of young families infiltrating what was once known as Portland's Little Vietnam. Plitzko's bread is clearly a labor of love that's certain to make this retro neighborhood the new destination for some of the city's finest loaves.
EAT: Heim, 7137 NE Fremont St., 503-206-5537, heimbakery.com.
6:30 am-2 pm Wednesday-Friday, 8 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday.