Michelle Gayer fans — and those who aren’t should be — have been wishing for the powerhouse baker to widen her orbit. This noteworthy expansion into St. Paul is proving to be worth the wait.
Expect more than croissants and coffee (both splendid, by the way). Stretching the boundaries of the site’s limited cooking capacity, Gayer and her crew are turning out impeccable yet easygoing fare that covers a whole host of breakfast and lunch options, often calling upon the bakery’s excellent breads to act as a foundation.
In the morning, a golden, gleaming bun is stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, Gruyère and a robust pepper sauce; it only improves with slices of bacon culled from neighboring Peterson Craftsman Meats. A tartine, built upon the bakery’s hearty rye, is lavished with supple cured salmon, quail eggs and dainty, coral-tinted salmon roe. It’s an edible work of art.
A frittata and steel-cut oats lightened with quinoa are picture-perfect, and cream-baked eggs finished with spinach is a decadent a.m. indulgence. Don’t skip the toast, served with a tart marmalade fashioned from a Gayer favorite, Meyer lemons.
Lunch is equally special, with a few pretty salads, a pair of well-stuffed panini and a standard-setting quinoa bowl accented with feta, toasted almonds and roasted cauliflower. Most prices are $9 to $14, and yes, the counter stocks a full range of Salty Tart sweets (love those flourless chocolate cupcakes) and breads.
The sun-soaked, soothing-yet-sophisticated space (design by Liz Gardner of Bodega Ltd. in Minneapolis) is inviting with a capital I. The friendly service is spot-on.
289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, saltytart.com. Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Kitchen closes at 2 p.m.