3 out of 5 stars
Oh Scratch. The twitterverse has been all atwitter about your bakery treats and locavore nibbles. Is this little shop too hip for my uncultured tastes?
My first attempt at going here was thwarted because after finally driving around a few blocks and parking and walking up the little alley I found they were closed on Mondays. Why must the world be deprived of delicious bakery treats on Monday morning?! This is when we need them most! Keep in mind, dear readers, that Ninth Street Bakery IS open on Mondays.
I was able to give it another shot recently and I was rewarded for my efforts with the most delicious cinnamon sugar donut muffin. The delightful muffin had a more complex flavor that I anticipated, (almost clovey?) which eased the pain of spending $7 on breakfast. Yes, $2 for the muffin and $5 for the chocolate tart. As you can see by the photo, there is no possible way to resist this tart once it is spotted. The sparkling sea salt on the surface of that dark chocolate beckons. Unfortunately the tart pastry I felt was a little dry and stiff, but the chocolate filling was lovely. I myself prefer the pillowy folds of a croissant.
Scratch has a rotation of lunch items available, but you won’t know in advance what will be available. I guess that’s part of the mystery. They were occasionally updating a Facebook page, but before my recent visit I wasn’t able to find it.
I decided to try the pastrami on rye. This comes with no side for $8 so I also ordered a side of potato salad.
The sandwich was delicious. Every individual component of the sandwich was homemade and fresh, including the rye bread and the sauerkraut. The pastrami itself was juicy and not too salty. The potato salad “made with local yogurt”, I was not as impressed with. The potatoes were a bit underdone and the salad was a bit peppery and in need of more tang.
The real test of Scratch, I decided, would be the pie. Since Scratch has been made famous by pie, it should be the one item you can order which can not disappoint. Today’s selection included chocolate chess pie, sweet potato pie, or Meyer lemon pie. It was a hard choice given I’m more of a fan of traditional pies like apple or cherry. I have to say, I just wasn’t feeling my slice of lemon. Perhaps I don’t have sophisticated enough tastes to enjoy the slightly bitter Meyer lemon, the slices of which include the rind. But again, the crust disappointed. It was chewy and stiff. The cappuccino I sipped was not only fantastic (I heart Counter Culture Coffee), but also decorative! It paired well with a chocolate donut muffin, although I really preferred the vanilla one.
I am left with mixed feelings. I can’t help but appreciate the adventurousness of the menu at Scratch and the quality of the ingredients. But for the price I wish it wasn’t so hit or miss.Scratch 111 W Orange St Durham, NC 27701