12640 Sabre Springs Parkway, Scripps Ranch
I had one of those mid-morning hungers — too early for lunch but too close on the heels of breakfast to do that all over again. I was driving through Sabre Springs with a half-full cup of coffee from nearby roaster Mostra, and I had no idea where I might find the right amount of food that would pair well with that gourmet Sumatra.
That’s where the word “bakery” came into play. Nutmeg Bakery & Café sits deep within a shopping center strip, separated from the road by a wide parking lot. Fortunately for my belly, they popped up a fabric sign at that parking lot entrance to attract peckish, wandering souls like yours truly.
Not that the place wasn’t busy enough, particularly the small, umbrella-shaded patio. The organic-leaning bakery serves egg-dish breakfasts and Panini-style lunches, but at 11 a.m. a number of small groups chatted over pastries and coffee drinks as though this were a regular meeting spot for catch-up sessions.
The line to order takes you past some of those pastries, which line up behind a high glass counter with assorted cookies and cakes. I quickly spotted a ham-and-Gruyère croissant. But there also was a dulce de leche bread pudding, looking sweet and inviting, crying out for some whipped cream and a complex coffee accompaniment.
I ordered both at about $4 each, with the croissant heated up, and was given a numbered table sign to carry to my place. Actually, it was a numbered metal pail that carried napkins and silverware, a clever touch. The croissant showed up first, and I enjoyed the warm melt of the Gruyère inside and pan-crispy cheese that had melted on the ends of the pastry wrap.
The bread pudding had been lost in the shuffle, but staff patrols the dining room to clear tables and check on guests so I had no problem flagging someone down. The pudding arrived with a fresh dose of cream just as I finished the croissant. Each bite offered a different ratio of dense and milky versus fluffy and sweet.
And that coffee! Satisfied, I got back on the road, working my way east into Poway where I started to think about where I might find a light lunch.