Each day, Sparrow sends out dozens of its ambassadors around the city—the swirling "ocean rolls," toasty buttery coils that hold an addictive sprinkling of cardamom. Because cardamom—a distinctive, bigger, bolder nutmeg-like flavor—is foolishly underused in dishes and baking, these ocean rolls are both exotic and memorable. (Really, though, comparing nutmeg to cardamom is like saying Bruce Banner is the same as The Hulk.)

But Sparrow is so much more than a one-trick bakery: The shop rolls out croissants so light that without chocolate chips to anchor them they'd float away, eye-poppingly beautiful lemon meringue tarts, and slobberingly good/great éclairs. (Oh, really, why stop at one!)

Yes, Sparrow's baked goods are available around town, but even better is going to ground zero on Scott Street, where it is rarely anything but a fluttering beehive of baking activity. The flagship store is laid out disproportionately between space for cooking and room for customers—or, really, in dimensions that show exactly the right priorities: The public space upfront is small and cramped—any more than three customers at the bakery counter and it is a traffic jam—but the rest of the space is graciously large and airy, with plenty of elbow room for the bakers to stir giant bowls of dough and ooey-gooey goods. (PB)

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