Not too long ago, The Sugar Cube was a little pink and brown cart, sitting outside Lardo’s eastside location. It was good, but you couldn’t do too much in the space of that cart. It was smaller than most that you see around Portland, and I certainly can’t imagine trying to frost a cake in there.
Now, The Sugar Cube has taken over a small, bright space on NE Alberta. (Warning: my grainy, dark iPhone pictures don’t quite do it justice.) There aren’t a lot of seats, but it seems to be enough, and coming here on a weekday morning to meet a friend for coffee and pastries, when it’s relatively quiet, makes you feel like you’re in on a very delicious secret. I was more than excited when my friend Elaine suggested it for coffee and pastries.
The best part of their new shop is that the kitchen is twice the size of the front room, meaning pastry master Kir Johnson now has the space to make sugar sing. And boy, does it hit some high notes. I was there for breakfast, so I didn’t get any chocolatey or dessert-y treats, but I did indulge in the spiced buttermilk cornbread.
More like a slice of spice cake, but with the perfect notes of cornbread, it was doused with a unique salty molasses butter, which balanced out the sweetness perfectly with some more spice and salt. Elaine had the savory strata with mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and both goat and cheddar cheese. Delectable. And of course I brought Jonah home a couple of jammers – one was oat filled with strawberry rhubarb jam, and the other was poppyseed filled with a lemon curd.
Next time, I’m going for the sweets no matter what time of day it is. The ultimate brownies with olive oil and sea salt look too good to pass up.