Sassafras Bakery in Olde Worthington has launched a new lunch menu. We've got a first look at how this sweet cafe is killing it with savory midday items.
I've been a big fan of AJ Perry since before she opened her small Sassafras Bakery in Olde Worthington. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better buttery pie crust in town, or a more decadent dulce de leche brownie. Perry, undeniably, has sweets covered.
She didn't need to add lunch options to her sunny yellow bakeshop, but it was always part of the plan, she says. So when it came time to lean savory, Perry enlisted the help of chef Matthew Heaggans-a notable culinary creative in the food truck scene. Heaggans owned and operated Swoop! Food Truck (both of which closed in the fall), but earned the biggest following (myself included) for his creative comfort food at pop-up eatery Bebe inside Merion Village dive bar Hey Hey. (You can now catch him in the kitchen at Flatiron Bar & Grill Downtown.)
Heaggans applies the same level of originality to the new seven-item sandwich and salad menu at Sassafras, blending tried-and-true favorites with worthy food trends, such as spicy Moroccan harissa, tea and ancient grains like farro. His dishes are wonderfully unfussy, and yet oh-so-smart.
Take the Roasted Carrot salad ($8) with a hearty amount of quinoa that's a texture eater's delight; and possibly one of the best things I've eaten this year. Still-warm roasted carrots are spiked with enough harissa to be fiery, but not burning. I mistook chunks of ricotta as a flavorless waste, until halfway through the dish I realized its true purpose: not to add tang, but to provide the palate with some cool relief from the sweet-spicy honey harissa dressing. Arugula and celery add freshness; and peanuts texture.
The Farro salad ($8) isn't as much of a flavor roller coaster, but it hits all the necessary crests. It's built with lots of al dente farro, roasted poblanos and queso fresco. Noted as "walnut chorizo" on the menu, these chopped nuts are browned and spiced like the Mexican sausage. Though it wouldn't fool chorizo lovers, it's a playful touch that works well.
If you're hungry for a sandwich, start with the Turkey ($8). Perry and her team brine turkey breasts in lapsang tea which lends thick the thick slices of meat a smoky green taste that's brightened by lemon and smoked paprika mayo. "Sassafras pickles" are really picked cauliflower, a bright and hearty sub for the classic. This sandwich, as well as the Veg Jerk Mushroom ($8) comes on floury ciabatta made by talented local baker Matt Swint of Matija Breads. (He also bakes the focaccia on the apple-brined Pork ($8) with apple ketchup.)
Of course no trip to Sassafras would be complete without a sweet treat or two. The Donut Muffin is proof pastry mash-ups haven't jumped the shark-it tastes like a cake doughnut, but eats like a muffin. If you're in for a lunch on a weekday, stick around until 3 when every cookie purchase comes with a free milk or coffee. Opt for milk if you're going classic chocolate chip ($2); but go for a cup of Brioso coffee if pairing with a savory-sweet ginger cookie ($2).