Bakeries are the new hot trend in restaurant openings these days from The Mill, to Le Marais, to 20th Century Cafe and so on. It seems there is a wealth of former pastry chefs making their own way in the world these days. You can now add Sybil Johnson's Heartbaker to that growing list. Formerly pastry chef at Kokkari and Aqua (now closed) she's opened a new bakery on the corner of a residential section in the Richmond District. It was a pleasant Saturday when I made my way out to this distant neighborhood to check the place out.
It's a cute tiny place with a bar down one side and table and chairs down the other. While they have lots of choices showing on their online menu, they don't have quite as many available at the shop. They do orders for stuff to take away but it's different for sit down. They offer a handful things as brunch stuff but I'm here for the sweets so I peruse the choices that are available.
I start small and get the chocolate ricotta turnover and have them heat it up for me. The crust is very croissant like--light, flaky, buttery, a slight crispness--all the things you want in a turnover. The semi-sweet chocolate ricotta mixture inside vaguely reminds me of a cannoli and I like that kind of not overly sweet flavor. Though they could have heated it up even a little more, but I had already eaten half of it so I just kept going. This was a good start and at $2.50 a pop decent pricing.
Of course you can't just try one thing at a baker, well I can't, so next was the caramel brownie and a Nutella bombolone. Chocolate and caramel are my second favorite things next to chocolate and peanut butter. The caramel here was good--buttery and creamy, not too sticky with just a little hint of burnt to make it interesting. The brownie, however, was too dense inside it came off tasting thick and little dough like to me. The hard exterior wasn't my cup of tea either. Too crispy, crunchy either from over cooking or too much sugar in the batter which can harden up when sitting out after a while. Either way, not a fan. The Nutella bombolone--an Italian donut--had just come out of the kitchen freshly cooked so I had to get one. It was a cakey little round of dough covered in sugar and filled with a tiny dollop of Nutella. It was tasty and light and fluffy and getting a hot one was a plus. I like a good donut and this was definitely one. Just get a dozen and you can always heat them up yourself. The brownie was $2 and the bombolone was $2.50, still not bad pricing considering some other bakeries in town.
Okay, so I didn't want to feel like a such a gluttonous sloth I did decide to try a slice of red pepper and bacon quiche. It was okay. The crust was not as flaky as you might normally find, but not awful. Very eggy, but not cheesy, which is too bad, I like cheese in my quiche, which is something not normally done with traditional quiche, so that's more personal taste than criticism. But for me this was just basic quiche, there wasn't really anything to make me take a bite and go wow, best quiche ever. Plus, at $5 a small slice, eh, I could have gotten something else, oh well, 2 out of 4.
I'm not sure I'd make another specific trip out to the Richmond to go here, but if I lived or was in the neighborhood, it would be a cute place to drop in and hang out as an alternative to your standard coffee shop or Starbucks.