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Nov 28, 2011 10:05 AM

A gem of a bakery in Santa Cruz [Companion Bakeshop]

We stumbled into this little gem quite by accident while in Santa Cruz for several days last week -- and then found ourselves returning on a daily basis.

The bakery is turning out fantastic pastries that are elegant, locally sourced and mostly using organic products -- pastries which also, are not too sweet, which suits my palette to a T. At the same time, they offer wonderful savories -- bacon and cheddar cheese biscuits, galette, etc. But my personal obsession was with something I never heard of before: buckwheat blueberry scones -- extremely flavorful but also great for folks on a gluten free diet.

The crown jewel is the 3-seeded sourdough whole wheat baked in the brick oven breads on site.
Not cheap, but worth every penny.

The expresso drinks were fab -- a nice dark roast, which I love. And the barista was happy to accomodate my sweetie's needs, and build a capucino "to spec" that was quite perfect. As were my gibralters and macchiatos.

it's a small but quite comfy place -- one can sit around the large communal table indoors, along the counter on a stool, or at one of the tables outside on the patio.

ps- Plenty of free parking in the parking lot is also a plus.

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    1. re: wally

      Hmmm, brick oven sounds like Companion Bakeshop to me, and if not, I nominate Companion as my top pick of the five bakeries I tried in Santa Cruz. I owe a short report myself.

      I first tried them at the Wednesday afternoon farmers market in downtown Santa Cruz. We bought a couple day-old scones to reheat the next day for breakfast. Can't remember exactly what they were other than fruit based and made with whole grain flours. Even though they looked quite hearty and clunky, the texture was more refined than that, somewhere in between a muffin and a biscuit. I liked the crunch of the rough-hewn exterior and the lightness of the inside. They reheated well on the second and third day after initial baking, not drying out.

      Before leaving Santa Cruz to return home, I stopped at the shop for something to take with us. I got a mocha shortbread and a seasonal selection, pumpkin seed loaf. The cookie, like the scones, had a judicious hand with sugar, not overly candied and letting the full spectrum of flavors shine through. We enjoyed the crusty, lightly sour bread over several days, it held up as well as Acme's levain. Didn't try the coffee but I believe it's Lulu.

      On Tuesday nights, Companion hosts a community pizza night. We didn't have a chance to take part, would love to hear from anyone who has.

      Companion Bakeshop
      2341 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Answering my own question, here's the report on Tuesday pizza night.

      2. re: wally

        sorry. i forgot the essential info. but good going, melanie. You win the prize!

        Companion Bakeshop

        1. re: escargot3

          This thread took impossibly longer to open than usual when I clicked on it to reveal your answer, adding to the anticipation and wonder of whether I'd guessed correctly!

          As you say, prices are not cheap. But I did enjoy all five things purchased here and I can't say that about the other places. I do wonder if the baking is to my taste because I live in San Francisco and Sonoma County, and am accustomed to a less sweet, deeper flavor profile.

      3. I return to Companion Bakery every time I visit Santa Cruz because I love their buckwheat blueberry scones.

        But another superb reason to go there is the selection of breads. Yesterday, I emerged with an impeccable sourdough 100% whole wheat loaves. (thanks to the wood brick oven)

        One disappointment for me, but perhaps an improvement for others: they switched to Blue Bottle.