These days, to be competitive, eateries west of the Rocky Mountains need to appear sensitive to the yawning litany of emerging food allergies and diet preferences.
Made-from-scratch foods using local ingredients doesn't cut it anymore—for the hyper-demanding, über-conscious customers of the American West, a bakery must cater to the picky/sickly/dieting/impossibly fit patrons who require gluten-free, processed sugar-free, paleo, whole wheat, raw, local and with coconut oil (because of those easily metabolized medium-chain triglycerides—or something like that). Often such food tastes like a less-exciting version of the real thing; a ghost cookie.
But not at Fearless Baking, a brand-new bakery in Midtown that bravely offers plenty of "the real thing" (wheat-and-butter-packed goodies), alongside paleo bars, gluten-free muffins and naturally sweetened banana bread. And—bonus!—it's a cool space run by friendly folks.
Located in a small business park on Division Street (along with Angel Thai), the three-week-old bakery has smartly situated itself to be the "go to" spot for nearby workers needing breakfast, lunch, snacks or caffeine. Inside are older wooden tables (a la ReStore), exposed timber beams, a multi-colored wood bar and a big glass case that holds a mouth-watering selection of goods. Outside is a small patio for warm-weather eating.
Despite the mid morning hour, a steady stream of customers came and went during my visit, all of them floating in and out the door to a Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack.
"Do you have anything sweetened with agave or fruit juice?," asked one middle-aged woman. Fearless co-owner Elise Hurley politely directed the patron to the paleo and gluten-free banana bread ($4) and coconut paleo bars—both sweetened with a touch of honey.
"I love feeding people," Hurley later told me. The 30-something baker shares the business with co-owner and fellow baker Abby Jensen.
Another customer ordered one of the English muffin breakfast sandwiches ($5.75), which featured thick bacon slices, egg and fresh spinach greens all on a rosemary English muffin. For lunch, Fearless offers daily salad and sandwich specials. And, of course, there's a coffee bar, with beans supplied by Bellatazza and teas from Metolius.
Everything I brought back to the office was quickly devoured. The Sunrise Cinnamon Roll, with an orange zest and marmalade filling ($3), was flaky, rich and not overly sweet. The Chocolate Chip Cream Puff ($2.25) was great, and would have been amazing with vanilla ice cream (a dining-in option). For savory goods, try the salty and soft pretzel with homemade honey mustard dipping sauce ($3), which, according to our editor, "tastes like being at the ballpark, in a good way." The Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie ($3) was plenty good, but a touch crisp—cookies are no place to skimp on butter. I also should have ordered the popular Sunny Side Up ($3.50)—a puff pastry with cream cheese and an apricot on top, made to look like a baked egg on toast.
Fearless' artful pastries closely rival Sparrow Bakery's elegant offerings, and given the delightful dietary options, lunch staples and well-made espresso drinks, we'll be back.
1900 NE Division St., 541-508-7469
Open Wed.-Fri. 7 am-5:30 pm; Sat.-Sun. 7 am-2 pm
Baked goods also available at Bluebird Coffee Company and local farmers markets