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Jun 17, 2014 5 min read

A First Look at Marla Bakery, Opening Friday

A First Look at Marla Bakery, Opening Friday
The main room at Marla Bakery. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.
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If the inspection gods are pleased this week, Amy Brown and Joe Wolf will be opening their long-awaited MARLA BAKERY location in the Outer Richmond, possibly this Thursday June 19th [UPDATE: they are opening Friday June 20th!]. It’s much more than just a bakery, however: they will be serving a variety of meals, eventually ramping up completely to offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch.

We got a look at the lovely space a few weeks ago at a preview party, which is centered around a spectacular double-deck wood-fired oven custom made for them by Jeremiah Church (Wandrian Ovens) in Burlington, Vermont—if you look closely, you’ll see the label that proclaims it’s the Marla 2000, cute. There are 26 seats inside, with tables that were handmade by Amy’s father, and her brother is behind the artwork on the walls. You’ll notice other crafty details, like the wood cabinetry, the pottery, and custom chandelier near the entrance. The back contains a garden area and patio designed by Paxton Gate. There are fruit trees and an herb garden, and they will be adding additional seating shortly. I am going to be scheduling lots of meetings there, I have a feeling. It’s totally “destination-worthy.”

The duo have come a long way—they met while they were both working at Nopa, and partnered up for a number of pop-ups and a stand at farmers’ markets, and then opened their takeout window at their kitchen on York Street, The Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal. The Outer Richmond location is obviously their dream project, one built with a lot of heart and soul.

In case you’re wondering who Marla was, it’s actually a composite of many beloved family members’ initials who inspired and informed their cooking and baking. You can thank all of them as you take a bite of delicious morning pastries, like tart cherry and lemon scones, croissants laminated with Straus butter and candied orange pain au chocolat, and for you savory types, there’s farmer’s cheese and green onion turnovers. Is your 4pm “I want something sweet” bell going off? There will be gâteau Basque with candied apricots and Mexican coffee pot de crème to sate you. And there will be plenty of house-baked breads for you to enjoy on premise or to bring home, like whole-wheat levain, ciabatta, and baguettes.

Once the hours expand to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch, you’re going to have a lot of hard decisions to make, because these dishes are made by people who just “get” good food. The hearth is going to be put to work, and many ingredients are housemade, from cheeses to charcuterie, and of course local/organic/seasonal is in heavy play here.

Breakfast will include their famed bagels (gawd they’re good) with housemade cream cheese and lox, and baked eggs with reduced thyme cream, roasted leeks, sugar snap peas, and Gruyère. Lunch (preview menu here) goes beyond the usual, with dishes like ale-steamed mussels, but there’s also a selection of sandwiches, like roasted tri-tip with horseradish aioli, crispy shallot rings, and jus on a bolillo. Dinner (opening menu here) will bring a roasted beet salad with preserved Lisbon lemon vinaigrette, and cumin-Aleppo labneh, and fried rabbit with potato purée, pickled carrot, and jus.

Brunch is also bonkers, with migas with levain and ciabatta, Spanish sausage, roasted padrón pepper, and fried egg, and there’s also a butcher man’s breakfast (black bread pudding, poached egg, Bull’s Blood beet relish) and the baker woman’s breakfast (levain, pickled cherries, house-smoked ham, sweet and sour apricot chutney, and mustardy cheese). Check out the opening menu here.

I had a chance to speak with Chris Deegan (also previously at Nopa), about the wine, beer, sherry, and vermouth list he has put together. He is very passionate about people discovering the pleasure of drinking vermouth on the rocks, so you’ll find a couple of selections, and any longtime tablehopper reader knows how passionate he is about sherry. The wine list will feature 30-50 bottles, ranging from $30-$65, with four whites and four reds by the glass, and a sparkler. He wants to keep the by-the-glass pricing at $7-$11, he’s tired of not seeing many choices below $12 these days (amen). There will also be a little reserve list on a chalkboard, with extremely well-priced one-offs—basically expensive wines being sold at retail pricing—so check that out.

Since the idea is to encourage people to come by during the day to enjoy the patio (it’s totally a little oasis where you can kick back with your adult beverage and something tasty to eat), there will be a number of low-alcohol choices, including some ciders. As for beer, there are two on tap (Moonlight’s Death and Taxes, and a sour from Almanac), plus six to eight bottles ranging from a light, fresh pilsner to IPAs to saisons; look for some special bottle-aged picks (i.e., more spendy ones) at $20-30.

When the opening happens this Friday, for the first week, there will be café hours (please see below) Friday-Sunday serving pastries, bread, desserts, light breakfast fare (bagels, quiche), and coffee. Next week (starting Tuesday June 24th), they will add full-service breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Sunday, and Sunday supper on Sunday June 29th. In the third week, starting Tuesday July 1st, regular service will be in full effect, with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch.

Café hours: Tue-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 8am-5:30pm. Breakfast 8:30am-10:30am, lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner Thu-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm and Sun 6pm-9:30pm (single seating/family style), brunch Sat-Sun 10:30am-3pm. (FYI, Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal will remain open daily, Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm.) 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave., 415-742-4379.

The main room at Marla Bakery. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.

A closer look at the Marla 2000. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Halibut and clams in a daikon-kimchi broth at a test dinner. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.
Dessert time. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.
Baguettes. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.
A peek at the in-progress back patio. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
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