Just down the road from Full of Life Flatbread in the tiny town of Los Alamos is a renegade baker creating French pastries for adoring fans. Bob’s bakery would be worth recommending just on the virtues of its outstanding loaves, bagels, croissants, and English muffins, but if you have time for more than a quick pick up, stay for breakfast.
Hot menu items tend towards bistro fare based on excellent breads, but they go beyond simple classics like a Croque Monsieur (available at Lunch). You can get a McMuffinesque breakfast sandwich, but on a well-risen, crisp, fresh griddled English muffin. It starts with a turkey sausage patty that is herbal and juicy. The peppery patty is topped with fluffy scrambled eggs, a veil of provolone cheese, and a few leaves of arugula. The flavors hint at Italy, but the tall construction of the sandwich is purely American. It’s worth stretching your jaw to get everything in one bite.
Bob makes an angelic Pan de Mie (soft bread), which is basically an elevated white bread. It is a key player in other egg-based breakfasts such as Eggs in a Frame #2, which starts with a Texas cut from the soft French loaf grilled until crisp outside and sponge soft inside. A hole is punched out and filled with a perfect over easy farm egg and topped with bacon lardons. The thick bacon is rendered until it has the texture of tender pork. Hidden under the egg is a pocket of peppery béchamel sauce. It seems to stand in for a country cream gravy as it coats the fluffy toast and supple lardons.
Our favorite dish is beans on toast. This is like a partial (not full) English breakfast layered artistically into a big bowl. Thinner slices of the pan de mie have a heavier toast and thus stay crunchy under the beans. The beans are white beans slow cooked with bacon. On top of the beans and toast is an over-easy farm egg with blistered roasted tomatoes and a whole pan-fried Toulouse sausage. The fatty toulouse sausage and complex beans are reminiscent of cassoulet. Cassoulet for breakfast? Why not? The dish showed European sophistication with nods to California ranch life.
What we tasted from the pastry case was just as impressive as what came from the kitchen. Bob is known for his Kouign Amann (butter cake), which is a notoriously labor intensive and finicky pastry. It is like a spherical croissant with a hard, eggshell-like crust and layers of buttery laminated dough inside. The glaze on the hard exterior is just barely sweet. The range of textures and butter flakey dough makes it irresistible. Among more familiar American flavors, our top pick is a glazed morning bun. This muffin-shaped cinnamon bun is hypnotically swirled and iced glossy with a rich orange zest frosting. Here is the gooey comfort of a cinnamon roll, complete with doughy middle, but with a pâtissier’s sophistication.