Ken’s Artisan Bakery

Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, Oregon is largely responsible for my obsession with high quality breads. This was the first good U.S. bakery I encountered that branched out from whole grain loaves to stunning European-style breads and pastries.  Ken’s brioche and cafe au lait became common study partners for me over those years, and I was truly sad to leave this wonderful bakery behind when I moved back to Chicago.

When Nick and I arrived at the Portland train station, we made our way directly to Ken’s for lunch.  Though we had decided on sandwiches, I couldn’t resist purchasing one of their mouthwatering croissants.  While explaining to Nick the reasons behind this addition to our lunch menu, the woman in front of us turned around to agree saying, "I lived in France for five years and I keep a vegan diet, but when I am back in Portland I always come here for one. They are the best."

Nick ordered the Pulled Pork Barbecue on a ciabatta roll with fennel coleslaw (pictured first).  I ordered the Croque Portabello with bechamel, fresh thyme, and Gruyere on country bread.  While the train food was better than we had expected, devouring these divine sandwiches helped remind us that good food should taste fresh and satisfying. 

Anyone who may fancy themselves a bread nerd should look at the "Essays" section on the Ken’s Artisan Bakery website. With titles like, "What is Good Bread" and " Preferments for Better Living," Ken’s essays are not only endearing, but full of first-hand advice from a baker that very clearly loves good bread.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery
338 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209

Tonight we are going to see Heart (You stay away from "Barracuda", Sarah Palin!) and on Sunday, after months of fundraising and training, I run the Chicago Half Marathon.  Wish me luck!


show hide 10 comments

Amanda - That croque portabello looks divine. The way the light hits the cheese and crust is perfect. Thanks for the swoonworthy photo :) If I am ever in Portland, I will be sure to try this bakery out. Breadbakers stun me because of their dedication in applying their artisan skills by using simple techniques. I need to be taught by a pro!

Gemma - Thanks Amanda. I’m finally getting the hang of the new camera I bought last year. I thought the light in the pictures worked nicely too.

AmyRuth - Thank you for sharing your love of the beauty and art of Ken’s passion. Your description of the food and the beauty of your photos makes me want to crawl through and have a bite. he he
Hope your half marathon went well. I’m sure it was a rewarding experience, very cool accomplishment!! Congratulations!

Amanda Boyce - What camera do you use? I bought a simple point and shoot last year and I so badly want to upgrade to a nice DSLR but that is one big chunk of my paycheck gone :(

Y - Another wonderful place in Portland is the Pearl Bakery, which also has wonderful bread.

Gemma - Thank you AmyRuth. The half marathon went well. It was a great experience.
Hi Amanda, I bought a refurbished Olympus E 330 on Ebay. I found it for a fair price and I’m increasingly happy with it as I learn how to use it better. I used a point and shoot for years (including for this site) and I think they can produce some great photos, but a DSLR is quite fun… I’d look into some of the refurbished cameras that come with lens on Ebay to see if anything fits your price range. This site: has some great information too.
Y, I like the Pearl Bakery too – and they have a better location, but Ken’s is the place for me.

Gina - Oh Ken’s, I loved you so much when I lived in Oregon, I loved you when I lived in France, and I’d really like to move back to Oregon so that I can love you even more. Doesn’t Claudine Pepin run the wine bar portion? Or didn’t she in the past? Also, best macarons I’ve had outside of France. Period.

beth - 2 months after I move away from Portland, I find out about Ken’s.
The photos do the croissant justice, too — I can nearly hear the crisp flakey thing that the little crusty layers do. I’m going to go mope at Artopolis, and it won’t be the same at all.

A - The food at Ken’s is fantastic- but after working for him I won’t go back to eat- it was a miserable experience…

gemma - Gina, I feel just the same way. And Beth, that is rotten luck! Surely you will be back to visit old friends though.
A, I’m very sorry to hear that. Perhaps passionate people do not always make the best bosses.

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