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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: May 7, 2018

Scratch Baking’s Toast Bar serves up breads and spreads

Written by: Ray Routhier

When I heard that Scratch Baking Co. was opening its Toast Bar on Broadway last fall I thought to myself, “A toast bar?”

My brain immediately conjured an image of the chrome General Electric toaster of my youth, popping up slices of browned Wonder Bread for my sister and me as we leaned against the kitchen island.

But Scratch Baking Co. does not make Wonder Bread. From its original location in Willard Square in South Portland, Scratch has become legendary around here for its mastery of fresh-baked breads and bagels.

Scratch’s lure is so strong, you see it pop in real estate ads all the time: “close to beach, schools and only a 10-minute walk to Scratch bakery.”

So it makes sense that Scratch’s Toast Bar would have the same standards, and would elevate the lowly idea of toast and toppings to something like an art form.

I tried the Toast Bar on a recent Saturday with my family and found the menu extensive and creative. I was immediately taken with the idea of a “flight of toast,” sort of like a flight of beers and only slightly less intoxicating. For $10, you get three kinds of bread, toasted, and three spreads, on a compartmentalized tray like in a high school cafeteria. My breads were a cinnamon raisin nut bread, a miche (a kind of sourdough country loaf) and the Whole 9 multigrain.

The spreads I picked were a three-berry jam, Yummus (hummus with pureed carrots and other veggies) and an artichoke heart and spinach bake. The jam was like berry pie filling, so good you could eat it with a spoon. But it was also great on the cinnamon raisin nut bread. The Yummus was tangy and flavorful, and oddly, didn’t taste that much like carrots. The spinach and artichoke bake was creamy and rich. It was especially good on the airy miche, which was my favorite of the breads.

I also got to try the cheese toast of the day ($3.50), which featured Havarti dill cheese and scallions on miche. So simple but delicious.

My daughter Dinah had a daily special, which was a pizza with red sauce and cheese on two pieces of crunchy-yet-tender baguette ($4.75).

My daughter Sophie got the Smokey Rose ($7.75), which is herbed cream cheese, Ducktrap smoked salmon, cucumber, scallion and radish. She had it on a plain bagel.

Another item we would have liked to try was the Toast-Acado, with avocado, lemon, cracked pepper and pumpkin seeds on the toast or bagel of your choice.

You can also just buy the bagel or bread of your choice and the spreads of your choice. Spreads and toppings range from almond butter, peanut butter and jam to hot pepper jelly, deviled egg, prosciutto and smoked salmon.

Located in a former car wash, the Toast Bar is a spiffy yet casual spot. Four glass-paned garage doors give plenty of light and views on the street. There’s coffee and lots of things to drink, but they also have a jug of water with cups, for free thirst-quenching.

There are four or five tables, plus chairs next to vintage metal TV trays and stools along a counter.

It’s located just off South Portland’s Greenbelt Walkway. If you walk behind the Toast Bar and take a left, you’ll walk along the water toward Mill Creek Park and the Casco Bay Bridge. Take a right and you’ll head toward Bug Light Park, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse and eventually, Willard Beach.

So you can grab some toast and tour the coast.

Scratch Baking Co. Toast Bar

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday
WHERE: 207 Broadway, South Portland. 613-9804, scratchbakingco.com
WAIT: About five minutes
PARKING: Yes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes.

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