Red Brick Bakery a delicacy hiding in Red Lion back alley
The Red Brick Bakery and Tea Room hides among the cluster of businesses in downtown Red Lion.
Down the street from a more noticeable pizza shop and music store, a sandwich board squatted on the sidewalk. The sign, and nothing else visible from the street, announces the cozy little spot is open and serving lunch.
An arrow drawn on the board pointed toward a brick archway leading to a narrow alley and a little white door with curtains. A sign reminds patrons what hours the borough issues parking tickets.
As a lunchtime destination, the Red Brick Bakery resembles a secret treasure in more ways than one.
You wouldn't see the place unless you looked for it. And until recently, I had never heard of a bakery serving lunch either. I assumed the business revolved around its well-known high tea events, catering and specialty baked goods.
"I feel like a lot of people come in and say, 'Oh, you do lunch, too?'" owner and chef Dani Sanders said. "So, I think a lot of people don't know we have lunch."
The nook seats about 20 people. Sanders scribbles the lunch menu for the day on a dry-erase board next to the counter.
Options include a few sandwiches, a couple of soups, a salad and a quiche, but Sanders said the exact offerings change almost daily, always a positive sign of fresh ingredients.
I sat down and started noticing the decor. I felt amusingly uncomfortable as a guy sitting, by himself, among decorative tea pots and assorted knick-knacks in various shades of pink and off-white. Double that sentiment when a young mother and her pre-school-aged daughter came in to eat scones and drink hot tea from dainty frou frou mugs.
So, yeah, Sanders didn't create the place with men in mind. Once the food arrived, though, I could have been sitting in the middle of a baby shower for all I cared.
Sanders seems to do her lunches in a simple style, emphasizing flavor contrast. And you can't go wrong with that. A spoonful of the spinach, rice and tomato Florentine soup ($2.95) tasted sweet at the beginning and savory at the end, and occasionally, I received a burst of salt from the parmesan cheese grated over it. I also enjoyed the consistency - just a little creamy with the rice adding some body to it.
The bacon and broccoli quiche ($4.25) followed and managed to top the soup with ease.
I firmly believe bacon enhances everything, and the chunks of pork belly spread throughout the soft, warm egg filling proved the point. I marveled at the crust, somehow pillowy and flaky at the same time.
"It's not a rolled out dough," Sanders said. "I kind of leave it in a crumbly state, and then I just press it into the pan."
The perfect counter point to something so warm and rich: chilled slices of fresh fruit.
In between bites of quiche, I enjoyed crisp pears and a wedges of oranges, as if I were at the halftime of a youth soccer game.
Wearing a poofy white baker's hat the day I visited, Sanders provides attentive service with limited staff.
Although the lunch hour appeared quiet with only three customers, I notice her phone rang constantly with orders and event scheduling.
"It's kind of an illusion," Sanders said. "You come in and it's like nothing's going on, but I always have something going on."
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants with meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Wade Malcolm at 771-2101, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @YDRCheapEats.
If you go
LOCATION: Red Brick Bakery & Tea Room, 55 N. Main St. in Red Lion
CUISINE: contemporary American
WADE'S PICK: spinach, rice and tomato Florentine soup; broccoli and bacon quiche; peach white iced tea
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday
PRICE RANGE: $2.95 to $4.85
ACCEPTS: Cash and major credit card
KID'S MENU: can make sandwiches to order
DETAILS: 332-7427, www.redbrickbakery.com