Half-Baked

In which we find the Dahlia Bakery leaves something to be desired.

DAHLIA BAKERY

2001 Fourth, 682-4142, www.tomdouglas.com Mon.-Sat. till 6 p.m. Tom Douglas expanded his empire more than a year ago with the Dahlia Bakery, a take-out adjunct to the Dahlia Lounge that we kept walking by but never went into. It seemed increasingly odd that we still hadn't been; it's cheap and probably delicious, we thought, and it's Tom Douglas, and everyone knows Seattle Weekly is but a loyal foot soldier in Tom's campaign to take over the food world. So four Weekly persons went over there and had lunch on a warm day at the two tiny outdoor tables, and then two of us went back and bought more baked goods than any two people should eat at one time (and ate them). Frankly, Tom, we're going AWOL on this one. Lunches are like upscale, fancy Briazz: prepackaged salads and sandwiches that, while surprisingly inexpensive and certainly more than edible, lose something in the execution. One of our number loved a daily pizette with smoked bacon, Point Reyes blue cheese, caramelized onions, and new potatoes ($4.50), while another took issue with the strong cheese bullying the rest. A curried egg salad sandwich ($4.25) was pronounced "rather messy" as bits of egg fell to the sidewalk—it was one of those sandwiches where the hard crust of the baguette causes the filling to squish out with each bite. It tasted "exactly as you would think." The lucky intern chose the simplest and best sandwich: roasted turkey with cave-aged Gruyere, thankfully not on a baguette ($5.50). "I kind of love mine," said the intern, while also remarking that putting cucumbers on the sandwich was weird and then questioning whether the Dahlia Bakery was above pickles (maybe if they were cave-aged?). The tarragon mustard included in said sandwich was judged so subtle as to be undetectable. Our editor in chief had a terrible salad ($4.95) with dressing that offered some wetness but no flavor whatsoever, with sour cherries for garnish that looked pretty but were extremely sour. She also opined that a very brothy, fennelly white bean and tomato soup ($3.95) could be made easily at home, and with "desperately needed" salt. Sweets were better, but again, tasted exactly as you would think. Many of them are, cutely, fancy versions of store-bought treats: An apricot/pecan "poptart" ($2.50) is a sweet/tart buttery pocket of pecans and apricot jelly; an upscale take on those dry flower-shaped cocoa wafers made with Valrhona cocoa ($.95) is thicker than the packaged ones but has the same burnt-chocolate taste; a black mission fig Newton ($1.50) is grittier, figgier, and better (but the soft cookie part was dry). A very pretty pear tart ($4.95) showcased a lovely pear formation sunk in a puff pastry round, but its subtle almond cream was overwhelmed by its insanely sweet, thick caramel sauce; the sauce is yours to drizzle or dip, and our incautious pouring of the entire portion rendered the tart fairly inedible. The pastry itself could stand to be more buttery. The top of the cr譥 brl饠($4 plus $1 deposit for the glass dish) is torched to order in front of your eyes: Eat it right away for an amazing contrast between the warm crust and cold inside that restaurants hardly ever bother to achieve. This is the one thing we'd go to the Dahlia Bakery every day to eat, returning the dish from the day before, the deposit forever in limbo. bclement@seattleweekly.com

 
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