With friends in from Brooklyn the pressure was on to show off as many good coffeehouses in Portland as possible. Duly impressed by the variations and quality goods that came from many of the houses in the city, Crema was the creme de la creme.
It probably helped that it was mid-morning and we were starving. Walking up to stare at the pastries behind the glass and then turning around to walk back to the end of the line was torturous. Often I find myself making a pastry choice and changing my mind around three times before I finally get to the register.
I love the A.M. buns with their true and direct orange flavor nestled among the crunchy-sugary flakes of swirled pastry. The breads are good, the muffins are a little dry, but good. The only item I haven't had too much of is the bread pudding. They have a rotating selection of flavors and it always looks moist enough to go swimming in. (If swimming in bread pudding is a fantasy of yours.) But I've promised myself to break out of my routine and I'll give the bread pudding a go next time.
I'll reserve any long-winded comments about the actual coffee. They serve Stumptown (yawn), just like most coffeehouses and they don't quite pull it off as well as Albina Press. It's great, but not reach-for-the-stars great.
The bakery in the back of the coffeehouse is almost always abuzz with what seems like dozens of busy bakers coated in flour and bringing pan after pan of warm pastries out to torture the line-waiters.
Possibly the best part of Crema, next to the baked goods, is the art. I think they consistently show high quality work without falling into the trite and faddish forms of coffeehouse art that sometimes kills the mood at other places. The art can be audatious and smug but it is always quality work. And looking at great art helps, as I may have mentioned before, waiting in that line is torture.
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