The new, much awaited endeavor, Toast Bar from Scratch Baking is, among other attributes, a luxurious use of dining options in our region.  I mean, a toast bar?  What is it exactly?  I pictured rows of toasters lined up on a counter in various stages popping out puffy browned breads.

The Toast Bar carries on the bakery’s high standards to bring some of the best baked styles of bread- making around.  Of course, there are their famous flakey-crusted croissant-like lightly sour-dough bagels along with their great breads.  If, for instance, you haven’t picked up a baguette from Scratch baking, it’s one of the best baguettes around. And it’s a marvel of bread making. Their starter has a slight zing of sourdough from long fermentation, and added shelf life, exhibiting a crunchy outer crust and intense bread flavor.  There are 12 to 13 breads made at the bread shop, the selection of which changes daily.

the Toast Bar for breads and bagels and spreads

The adjoining Bread Kitchen is the new commissary devoted to the bakery’s bread and bagel production needs, leaving the original Scratch Baking outpost on Willard Square fully functional for cakes and pastries. The days of long lines at Scratch Baking and the usual weekend run of bagels is a thing of the past since they can now produce more than enough bagels as the need warrants at their bread bakery next to the toast bar.

Order your breads and bagels with spread; the next door Bread Kitchen and insdie seating

What you get here is a line-up of toasts that come with various spreads (see the link for the menu).  On my first visit I  thoroughly enjoyed the cheese toast.  I was expecting a glorified grilled cheese sandwich but was taken away instead by the house-made pumpkin enriched ricotta spread on a multi-grain sprouted bread.  It was lightly toasted and the ricotta, laced with honey, was beautifully made.  For $3.50 you get two big slices of toast with lots of ricotta. This is a fairly large portion to have between the breakfast hour and the stroke of noon when last bite occurs.

The cheese bread is toasted bread topped with a pumpkin enriched ricotta and honey

The bar opens early in the morning but stops serving at noon. The bar will have expanded hours soon, open most of the day once they figure out how the traffic flows with customer attendance and preferences.  I was there mid-morning and it was bustling.

My next visit was just before noontime.  When I was there previously I bumped into Emil Rivera, the chef at Sur Lie in Portland.  He raved about his egg sandwich on a bagel.

Egg salad on toasted bagel

I had it on my second visit.  It’s not anything like a breakfast egg sandwich.  But rather it resembles traditional egg salad spread.  But here’s the difference.  The eggs are pickled with mustard seed, smoked paprika, a splash of chili oil (Cholula) and greens.  The yolks are separated from the whites and mashed then mixed in with the chopped whites. The texture is great and the flavor pure.  It’s topped with some local greens.   For a breakfast sandwich it might be too much but it’s a plentiful plateful for lunch.

I wonder if the menu will grow with more items beyond bread?  I mean, wouldn’t a great bowl of piping hot tomato soup served with great bread be a terrific lunch entrée? And I wouldn’t mind seeing an artful (or not so artful) rendition of peanut butter and jelly on a bagel or any one of their artisanal quality breads. And if there were some sweets from the bakery as the ultimate coda after toast, well—maybe it’s best to leave well enough alone.

Where all the breads and bagels are baked for both the Toast Bar and Scratch Baking

The Toast Bat and Bread Kitchen were at one time both a car-wash and Getty Gas Station, way down on Broadway just before the road ends at the old Joe’s Boat House, which is now the highly acclaimed North 43 Restaurant on the water. Inside, through the newly fangled garage doors is the cutely industrial space with tables and coumunal seating.  Don’t make the mistake to go across the parking lot to buy bread.  It’s not a retail space but rather where all the breads and bagels are made.

Toast Bar, 207 Broadway, South Portland, ME

Rating: As great as you’d expect from these baking pros

Ambiance: Trendy for Millenials Baby Boomers alike

Tables: Separate tables and communal table

Hours: 7AM to Noon Thursday -Sunday, but hours will be expanding for daily daytime hours

Parking: On site