When I was a child, I didn’t eat bread. Hated it.
I peeled the bun off of a McDonald’s Big Mac, ate the patty and scooped up the special sauce with french fries. No sandwiches for me. And definitely no pizza.
At some point, as I started eating in nicer restaurants, I discovered the almighty bread basket. When I went off to college in New York, I discovered pizza. For better or for worse (decidedly worse for my figure), I became a bread addict (pastries included). And while there are many places where I can satisfy my bread tooth, few do it quite as well as Artisan Foods Bakery & Cafe in Roswell.
Given the variety of breads and pastries sold at Artisan Foods, I suspected one of the owners must have studied baking and pastry. To the contrary, owners Hoyt Williams and his wife, Sayuri, (front-of-the-house manager) both pursued the general culinary track at The Art Institute of Atlanta, where they met.
Hoyt Williams does, however, have a science background, making him well-suited for the precision of baking. Before attending culinary school, he earned an undergraduate degree in animal sciences and worked in the field of bacteriology at a USDA veterinary inspection facility. Likening the fields of bacteriology and baking, Williams says, “It just made sense.”
After earning his degree, Williams worked at Joli Kobe, Eatzi’s and Alon’s Bakery. From there, he and his wife teamed up to open Artisan Foods, a breakfast-and-lunch-only spot. Here you’ll find a cozy space with exposed wood beams, hardwood floors, vintage kitsch, burlap-coffee-bag wall hangings and dishcloth-covered seat cushions.
But as charming as it is, it’s really about the bread, right? You might stop in to buy a golden-hued baguette ($3.25), a round of tangy sourdough ($4.25) or one of the tempting Saturday morning pastry selections stretching the length of the counter, like the velvety rich chocolate croissant ($2.50) or the glossy pain au raisin dotted with dark and golden raisins ($1.95).
Once you’re in the door, you’ll absorb the decor and the yeasty fragrance enticing you to linger and sample. The sandwich-heavy menu offers items like the roasted lamb sandwich ($10), a beauty that appears to be the product of a food stylist’s handiwork. Picture perfect. This warm sandwich spills glistening 24-hour-red-wine-marinated lamb jus mixed with balsamic vinaigrette and caramelized onions from the toasted confines of sourdough slices. Perfect 10. Maybe it’s not just about the bread.
I’d also recommend the grilled flank salad ($9) . Like the lamb, the steak marinates in a secret house blend for a minimum of 24 hours. The sweet marinade complements the savory roasted sesame dressing on the mixed greens with sliced red onions and tomatoes. The pairing of the soy-and-sesame-oil dressing with the steak’s sweet marinade makes for a very compelling combination. My only beef here: slices of steak so large they require multiple knife cuts to make them bite-size. But, hey, while you’re cutting you can contemplate what’s in the secret marinade.
Your biggest challenge at Artisan Foods will be deciding what to order. Look for the day’s specials chalked on boards. If they have it, try the crab cake sandwich (or just about anything) made on the olive oil boule ($12). The boule, soft and almost buttery, accents the richness of the crab cake bound with a béchamel sauce and coated in Panko. The only thing we need here is something with a bit of zing to balance all these wonderfully decadent components.
You’ll also have to choose a homemade side to accompany your sandwich, like the satisfyingly crunchy Idaho potato chips, the slightly chunky molasses-ginger-nutmeg spiced apple sauce and fresh berries with a touch of super sweet créme anglaise.
But the beignets ($3.75 for three) will be a no-brainer. Who can resist a stack of steamy fried dough pillows covered in powdered sugar like a snowy mountain? Not me. Not when they are puffed and yeasty like these.
Here it all begins and ends with the bread. If you have an incurable weakness for it, get your fix at Artisan Foods Bakery & Cafe. The bread may get you in the door, but you’ll soon recognize that Williams has skill beyond baking a mean loaf.Artisan Foods Bakery & Café 1169 Canton St., Roswell. 770-998-1169 Food: Breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches Service: Matter-of-fact and concentrated on moving the crowds through efficiently Best dishes: Roasted lamb sandwich, grilled flank salad, crab cake sandwich ,beignets Vegetarian selections: Salads, roasted vegetable panini Credit cards: All major credit cards Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays Children: Perfectly fine Parking: Yes Reservations: No Wheelchair access: Yes Smoking: No Noise level: Low Patio: Yes Takeout: Yes