sandwich

Smoked salmon on mauricette bread

WHEN NUVREI debuted its new café in mid-October, Pearl dwellers and bakery hounds squeezed their way into Marius Pop’s takeout pastry palace, just a flight of stairs away from his subterranean bakery on NW 10th Avenue. With his fresh breakfast and lunch menu, Pop is bringing thoughtful sandwiches and salads to pair with his signature French treats, and he’s doing it in a neighborhood that doesn’t have enough quality grab-and-go lunch options.

The reinvented Nuvrei Patisserie & Café space is small and bright, with a Scandinavian edge, and the hustle of hungry patrons grabbing buttery croque monsieurs and macarons from behind a glass display case feels like a crowded Manhattan lunch rush. You can vie for a seat at the slim counters or take your food to go.

Pop began cranking out his impressive pastries nearly 10 years ago, supplying innumerable Portland coffeehouses and helping to kick-start the city’s microbaking scene. The café still serves those same sweet goodies, but Pop’s new lineup, highlighted by bright, gushing macarons and a fresh wave of browned, malty “mauricette” pretzel breads, deserves attention as well.

Nuvrei’s outstanding baked goods make their way onto the sandwich menu—holding locally made bratwurst slathered in mustard and globs of creamy melted brie, or a flaky croissant cradling avocado and bay shrimp tossed with apricot crème fraîche. The salads, while fresh and generously accessorized, need some tinkering, and even the sandwiches could use a little fine-tuning to match Nuvrei’s quality pastries.

Still, in a neighborhood with limited middle ground between Whole Foods and sit-down dining for lunch, this bakery is shaping up to be the hottest new spot in the Pearl District.