As baker Solveig Tofte beams at customers across the counter of her new venture, Sun Street Breads, it feels as if the place has been around for years.
The bread behind the counter is stacked neatly, the flaky pastries glisten with buttery, sugary allure, and the morning visitors are lounging in the sunshine that streams through the oversize windows. Even without a sign outside (coming soon, so an “open” note taped to the counter makes do for now), it seems this is already a must-visit gustatory destination.
The South Minneapolis eatery is nestled into a strip mall that features a check cashing place, tobacco store, National Karate location, and Great Clips. But with its open design, bright mural, and on-display ovens, Sun Street is one of the most cheerful bakeries in town.
And boy, can Tofte cook up the treats. Although she does offer bread — the “figgy rye” loaf ($6) is sublime — the main draw here is breakfast and lunch items — they benefit from her baking expertise, but also show a chef’s innovative flair.
The biscuit sandwiches, in particular, are about as fluffy as they can get, and reminded me of a tiny restaurant / shack on the edge of downtown Memphis. There, I had biscuits and gravy that were so tender, expertly spiced, and memorable that I’ve considered going back just for one more round. Thank you, Solveig Tofte, for making a biscuit and gravy combo that’s so delicious, it makes me rethink my travel plans.
If there’s one true standout in the lunchtime lineup, it’s the meatloaf sandwich ($9). Disclaimer: The sandwich has a Heavy Table connection, since Tofte consulted one of this site’s writers, Susan Pagani, who the baker calls a “reigning meatloaf sandwich authoritarian.” (Pagani researched meatloaf for her newly released book, Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi.) As a nod to Pagani’s expertise, the sandwich has been dubbed “The Susan.”
You don’t have to be a fan of this site or of Susan (although, of course, we are) to appreciate the sandwich, though. Served on potato flax toast, the meatloaf is a peppery, subtle mix of flavors that balance perfectly. Tofte throws in some apple butter and fried shallot cream cheese, which lighten the taste even more, and highlight the juicy texture. It’s a far cry from the slightly-too-hard meatloaf sandwiches of my childhood, where the meat competed with equal amounts of ketchup.
In general, Sun Street is a happy place with just-right food, in a convenient location for meeting up with friends. That’s a mix that’s certainly tough to beat.
The introduction of Sun Street pulls off a South Minneapolis hat trick of sorts: three bakeries within about a half mile of each other, but not really in direct competition. Stacked up alongside Patisserie 46 and Sweets Bakeshop, Sun Street isn’t exactly comparable because of the difference in their offerings.
While Sun Street specializes in down-home type basics — albeit with upscale touches like that shallot cream cheese and fennel slaw — Sweets is more of a true bakeshop, complete with small seating area, modest decor, and cupcakes galore.
The Sweets Minneapolis location is just a block from Sun Street, in the space formerly occupied by Madwoman Foods, and it seems like an ideal place for late risers who crave a sugar hit, since it opens at 11am.
Patisserie 46, five blocks west of Sun Street, exudes the feel of a Parisian eatery and bakery, with its elegant interior design, gourmet desserts, and unusually high staff-to-customer ratio. Every time I’ve visited Patisserie 46, I’ve been struck by how crowded it gets behind the counter, like visiting a high school bake sale, where all the seniors are jockeying to ring up the next sale.
Although Sweets won’t have its Minneapolis grand opening celebration until April 9, the trio are firmly cemented in the neighborhood already, and Sun Street seems likely to be a fixture for years to come.
For the reason as to why it should last, it’s tough to trump the assessment of a junior food critic circle at the table next to me on a lazy Sunday morning: Three little girls, each with sticky cinnamon rolls, taking their first bites and then giving one another the thumbs up.
BEST BET: Get “The Susan” — this meatloaf sandwich is a true standout on the lunch menu.
4600 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55419
OWNER: Solveig Tofte
ENTREE RANGE: $5-9
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No