Bryan Underwood opened a tiny bakeshop/market calledBryan in the Kitchen
this past May (written about here
). He recently took over the larger space next door as well -- where Pesen's Breads & Panini used to be -- and began serving lunch.
The blackboard menu comprises smoothies, salads, panini, grilled cheese sandwiches, and charcuterie plates. There are also breakfast items; I am told the oatmeal with "smashed bananas" is awesome (I mean relative to oatmeal).
I started with a blueberry-strawberry smoothie made with Greek yogurt. It was tart rather than sweet, almost like an Indian lassi. Delicious.
So was a bowl of the soup du jour, a thin butternut squash purée curried with spicy seasonings. The menu should mention the curry aspect so as not to surprise those who might not be enthralled with that type of flavor.
In fact, Bryan is better at cooking and baking than he is at wording things. A "sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta salad" ($5.50) is offered with "chicken or salmon" for $3 extra. We chose the latter protein, which turned out to be smoked salmon, draped over tri-color bow-tie noodles threaded with strips of fresh basil -- not pesto. It was tasty, but misleading.
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SHOW ME HOW
Grilled cheese sandwiches came as advertised. We bypassed Brie and cheddar variations in favor of fontina cheese with fig marmalade. Choices of bread are sourdough or multigrain. We went with the grain, which was griddled sans grease; the fig sweetened the fontina in an appetizing manner, although the cheese wasn't melted to the requisite oozy degree. The sandwich came with a zesty side salad of orzo with ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh dill, and olive oil.
Bryan's baked goods are perhaps the real draw here. Half a dozen types of cupcakes ($2.25) line up in cake stands along the counter. The toppings are culled from French buttercream, which is rich, airy, and not nearly as sweet as American buttercream (birthday cake frosting). Flavors run from safe (chocolate with peanut butter topping) to exotic (with ingredients such as lavender or lemongrass). The blueberry-sage pairing in the cupcake we tried was revelatory -- and also tasted good. Cinnamon buns are another popular offering.
Bryan may be in the kitchen, but a grease trap is not. That's why many menu items are cold, and most cooking is done off-premises. This works out just fine, because the chill bill of fare fits in with the light, cool, healthful aspect of Bryan's lunch-shop cuisine.