New King on the Block

Posted: November 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: A & J King Artisan Bakers, Bakery, Salem | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Up early on a recent Sunday, we decided to forgo the usual healthy breakfast and indulge ourselves. The place to do it? A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem turned out to be an excellent choice. This bakery and cafe is warm and inviting with large bright windows, hammered copper tables, and of course, mountains of crusty loaves and glass cases full of tasty treats. There is a chalk board announcing the seasonal specials (Pumpkin Spice Brown Butter Cakes! Potato Gruyere Flatbread!) and which locally produced ingredients they are currently using. We decided to have coffee and pastry there and then take a few things home to try later.

While the coffee was quite respectable, rich and dark but not bitter, the prices aren’t much of a savings over Starbucks ($2.70 for a Tall Latte, $3.26 for a Grande). My companion chose the pain au chocolate; I could not resist the siren song of the sticky buns. The chocolate croissant ($1.95) was lovely; well made with high quality chocolate, though it paled in comparison with the incredible sticky bun, a much more substantial pastry ($2.10). I am not exaggerating when I say that sticky bun was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t sodden and sugary as so many tend to be, but the perfect combination of flakey buttery layers, pulled away to reveal the wonderful caramelized cinnamon sugar that complemented the pastry but didn’t overwhelm it. While I prefer the female of the species (no nuts), A&J offers both varieties and even if you have to drive out of your way, the sticky buns are worth the trip.

Later in the day, we sampled the baguette ($2.65) we had taken home, and it was terrific; crusty on the outside and yeasty, slightly chewy on the inside. I’d say Iggy’s (my regional favorite) has a real competitor on it’s hands. Needless to say, the loaf was demolished in short order. The final A&J treat sampled was the chocolate bouchon ($2.25), a mini dark chocolate tower-shaped cake. A perfect balance of flavors and texture; dark chocolate with a hint of almond, rich and satisfying without being heavy or cloying.

Using the term artisan to describe Andy and Jackie King’s bakery isn’t just hip marketing. They have truly mastered an art; balancing sweet and savory with taste and texture to create incomparable baked goods.

A&J King Artisan Bakers
48 Central Street, Salem
(978) 744-4881
http://www.ajkingbakery.com/

Share