Espresso tonic anyone? Maybe a lavender and thyme mimosa? Don’t let new Alta Bakery + Cafe in the very old Cooper Molera adobe fool you: Though the setting is historic, the menu is as fresh as it gets.
Take the lemon verbena donut for example – classic, sugary dough at its finest meets a hit of zesty lemon as it flows out in a light cream. A bright green lemon verbena icing brings a hint of grassiness while chocolate cookie crumbles on top add texture.
If this is the future of baked goods, it’s looking great.
Even a pastry as traditional as the cinnamon roll gets a luxurious upgrade with rich homemade sour cream icing. It feels like each bite is melting in your mouth. A berry danish delivers the same experience, with an array of fresh berries on subtly sweet ricotta. Each item is baked in-house daily – not a surprise when you sink your teeth in.
And some items you have to come in early for, in case they run out. On a first stop I missed the sausage rolls, but they were there one early Sunday morning. Growing up on British sausage rolls in South Africa, I had high hopes that Alta’s would be similar. And they were, sort of – but with a fennel-heavy twist. If you love Italian sausages, you will probably love them even more wrapped in crisp pastry. Though they weren’t exactly what my inner child longed for, they are delectable and have become a crowd favorite fast.
The rolls were just nostalgic enough, as was almost everything around them. Past meets present as one sits in a timelessly beautiful garden sipping on… what’s that? Sparkling tonic water in my coffee? With a hint of lemon, it makes you wonder. Is this just too much? Or do I totally love this?
How about a shout-out to the menu’s “obligatory” avocado toast? It’s old news yet somehow still the height of trendiness, especially when dotted with sweetly-poached kumquats, colorful bachelor buttons and colorful calendula flowers. The smoked salmon and cream cheese may sound slightly more vintage, although shows off its own flair, presented on a thick, dark slice of homemade seeded rye bread and decorated with a few capers and sprigs of chervil from the yard.
If you’re one of those people who can eat anything for breakfast (I am), a hearty and super healthy choice comes in the form of a quinoa bowl. Creamy avocado mixes with the grains to produce a filling foundation topped with carrots, cucumber, radish and arugula in a red wine vinaigrette.
The lunch menu starting around 11am adds to the toast list with pizza, sandwiches, beer, wine and local Almighty Kombucha on tap. A panini boasts sweet caramelized onions to temper some roasted red peppers and herby pesto, along with melty manchego cheese. Or go for the croque monsieur, with honey cured ham, gruyere and bechamel sauce.
Many menu items rotate and will change seasonally, so the important thing is to order what’s appetizing – while they have it.
ALTA BAKERY + CAFE 502 Munras Ave., Monterey. 7am-4pm Sun-Wed; 7am-5:30pm Thu-Sat. 920-1018, altamonterey.com