Restaurant review: The Angry Baker's still flying high
An eclair wears a cowboy hat. The voluminous noggin of Julia Child bubbles up in a skillful chalkboard portrait. Anthropomorphized milk and cookies interact antagonistically. A loose and loopy collage of culinary classics animate an open kitchen-anchored bar. These are participants in the artful dance of fanciful images that help attract an army of hipsters to the terrific Angry Baker. Well that plus a lot of great food.
Open a couple years now and with an expanding, vegan-friendly and locavore-loving menu, the patio-budding Angry Baker has evolved from upstart business to Olde Towne East fixture; so I figured I'd head down and take its temperature. If there was any doubt, I can assure you this I-could-be-in-a-cool-part-of-Brooklyn indie is hot. I'm not saying everything was perfect; I experienced niggling food and service inconsistencies. But the bottom line is this: The Angry Baker's highs can rise near tsunami-high whereas lows are mostly shrug-'em-off little ripples.
Breakfast and lunch are conveniently served all day (7 a.m.-6 p.m.) at this genuinely artisanal establishment, and the "tres Francaise" Baked Eggs ($7.50) fills both bills. Arriving in an attractive, broiled cheese-capped little casserole dish were three ova underneath - their yolks varied from runny to not - with a brioche bed and spinach blankets. Though it takes a while to prepare, this is a rewardingly simple and elegant yet lusty meal.
Over easy eggs - along with striations of Sriracha and tomatillo salsa - decorated the exterior of the accurately named Fork & Knife Breakfast Burrito ($7.75). That flavor-bomb behemoth was further distinguished by its crisply-toasted flour tortilla plus comforting meatless innards of al dente black beans, tangy Havarti cheese and roasted redskin potatoes.
Even more explosive flavors were detonated on the excellent - and almost believably Indian - Vegan Curry Burger ($8.75). A semi-thick, crisp and structurally sound lentil-y patty studded with corn, peas, beans and more was plopped on a killer brioche bun, dosed with volatile curry and garnished with pickled onions, arugula and cilantro pesto.
Also on a wonderful and puffy brioche roll was an homage to the almost-sacred Thanksgiving leftover sandwich (Turkey, $9.50). Rosemary and "herb cream sauce" conjured-up the stuffing; a pert cranberry-apple chutney radically improved on the canned stuff; and there was a lot of real-deal, high-grade pulled turkey too. Unfortunately, some of those poultry strands were dry.
Slight dryness also compromised the joys of these otherwise delicious items: an accomplished - if sloppy with too much sweet aioli - Salmon Burger ($9.25); the sundried tomato scone star of an Egg Sandwich ($5.75); and a stacked-to-the-rafters Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding ($3). Most entrees come with your choice of a teeny overachieving salad (with a bold, aggressively herbed vinaigrette) or soup, like a stellar - though lukewarm when I slurped it - pureed Spinach and Leek with deeply-developed flavors and an impressive "richness."
When I asked my server if that sensational soup was vegan, she concluded our discussion with, "I don't know." (I was later assured - by someone else - it was.) Barely-there service also surfaced when I was cluelessly forced to clean my claimed dirty table during a Sunday brunch rush and with clunkily-timed food arrivals.
Did I get angry? After ripping into eaten-on-the-way-home old-fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies ($1.50), American-style (coconutty and marzipan-y) Chocolate Macaroons ($1.50) and moist and intense Vegan Blueberry Brownies (my favorites, $3), I figured angriness should be reserved for talented bakers.
The Angry Baker
891 Oak St., Olde Towne East