Pastry Case Worship

Saint Bread, a New Destination Bakery, Alights on Portage Bay

Chocolate chip cookies and okonomiyaki tortillas arrive on a working waterfront.

By Allecia Vermillion April 28, 2021

Tiny but mighty.

A bakery and cafe counter called Saint Bread opened softly this week in a former motor boatyard on the shore of Portage Bay. It occupies a spare, newly sparkling building that was used to be a machine shop within the Jensen Motor Boat Company complex. Inside, a menu of pastries, toasts, and sandwiches can trace its DNA directly back to the London Plane.

It’s the brainchild of Yasuaki Saito, an owner in both London Plane and Post Alley Pizza. He brought in baker Michael Sanders, who ran the impressive bread shop within London Plane, and Randi Rachlow from Acres Baking Co. All of which to say, dough figures heavily on the menu, but so do the trio’s various heritages. Saito’s friend Samuel Smith, of Portland’s marvelous Tusk, helped design a breakfast and lunch menu: egg salad sandwiches with kewpie mayo and furikake, an okonomiyaki tortilla. The toast game looks to be especially strong, with beautiful bread underpinning combos like hazelnut butter with pistachios, dates, and honey, or cinnamon and Okinawan sugar.

It’s probably unnecessary to point this out, but the contents of the glass pastry case are equally impeccable, from croissants to melonpan, chocolate chip cookies to savory twists of furikake and cream cheese. Cardamom knots pay tribute to the marina’s Scandinavian roots.

Honestly, Saint Bread feels sprung from a Seattle of 10 years ago, when our old buildings received thoughtful makeovers to connect our industrial past to a shinier future of craft. This building, once home to shipwrights, now looks toward University of Washington—academics, the medical center, the nearby school of oceanography—rather than Amazon. And if the narrative doesn’t move you, a handsome covered patio, currently home to two picnic tables, might.

When I swung in on day two, the woman who took my order raved about the breakfast sandwich. I squinted at the menu, looking for fancy sausage or ramps or some other aspect that explained her impassioned stance. Nope, this version is all about adding dimension to the essentials: a square of steamed egg inside one of those impressive melonpan, a whisper of cardamom subverting the expected flavors. An add-on slice of American cheese helped this fancy sandwich channel its inner McDonald’s breakfast.

It feels like a good avatar for one of the loveliest arrivals of 2021. Right now, Saint Bread is open Tuesday through Friday, from 8–2, at 1421 NE Boat Street (remember, it takes a while for a new place to find its footing). Keep tabs on things, and admire the custom stained glass window, on Saint Bread’s Instagram.

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