Like a certain famous brand of English muffins boasts, Sarasota has more than a few incredible “Nooks & Crannies®” going for it. Jim’s Small Batch Bakery, in Gulf Gate, is one of those hidden gems you really need to visit. I venture to say this unassuming spot should be on every food-loving persons “must-do” list.
Chef/Owner Jim Plocharsky brings decades of culinary skill to his shop. From the wee hours of the morning, every Tuesday through Saturday, you’ll find Jim hard at work in the kitchen, creating handcrafted breads, artisan pastries, soups, and so much more. The result is a remarkable bakery where Jim’s passion and talent produces some of the best treats in Sarasota.
On previous visits, we’ve stopped in to pick up some of Jim’s amazing breads, which change on a daily basis. Pro Tip: This is a small batch bakery, meaning everything is created in, you guessed it, small batches. Jim showcases two freshly baked bread specials every day, which are ready a little before noon. But don’t hesitate if you intend to get some. Jim always sells out, so dropping early in the day is a must! But don’t worry if you miss buying one of his daily breads. Jim’s Small Batch Bakery offers other delights like his hand laminated croissants, irresistible cookies and sweet treats, as well as a variety of breakfast and lunch offerings. Just check out the menu board outside for details.
There are also a number of daily specials, which are shown on a print out in the window as you walk in. On our most recent visit Jill and I happened upon the “Lunch with a Friend” lunch special that included two awesome sammies, two house labelled bottles of water, and a choice from the pastry case for $18. (Trust me – this is like stealing!) I also ordered a cup of Cream of Broccoli Soup with Toasted Almonds. But more on that later . .
On my short “most craved food” list is a sandwich I’ve recommended countless times; Jim’s Small Batch Bakery’s highly acclaimed Candied BLT! Let’s start with the candied bacon shall we? Bacon, in and of itself is a rock star in many food circles. This candied bacon shows Chef Jim going the extra mile, as he takes bacon cooked in brown sugar and adds red pepper flakes to give that other worldly taste of sweet, salty, spicy and pretty much delicious!
Now stay with me here. First, you get to choose your bread, which, in my case, was Jim’s homemade Asiago. Upon this perfect bread you’ll find thick, crunchy slices of candied bacon, vineripe tomatoes, cool, crisp lettuce, and just the right amount of mayo. I can’t sing enough praises for the candied bacon, and what Jim’s unique flavor profile adds to a BLT, but the star of the show is that fresh baked Asiago bread. There’s no doubt it came out of the oven an hour ago . . . there is no faking the flavor of fresh baked bread. Please please yourself and try the Candied Bacon BLT . . . and don’t be surprised when your taste buds start singing too!
Jill’s Cuban sandwich was flawless in its initial toasty crunch (have I mentioned the bread is fresh?) Having lived in Miami for over a decade, she’s pretty selective when doling out praise for a Cuban Sandwich, and she was pretty pleased with the sandwich served at Jim’s Small Batch Bakery. Like me, she was endeared to the textures and flavor of the crusty bread. Biting into a pressed sandwich, you gotta hear that crunch of perfectly toasted crust before the flavors of warm meat, pickles and cheese ooze into the mix.
Oh wait! In my rapture of the sandwiches I almost forgot to talk about the lucious soup of the day; cream of broccoli with a toasted almond garnish. I rarely think of putting nuts in a soup, and this garnish was pretty much the ideal paring of the ol’ soup to nuts concept. Offering the flavor profile you’d expect in a freshly made cream of broccoli soup, the almonds offer a pleasant crunch every few spoonfuls or so. Nice!
Choosing a dessert is almost impossible when it’s impossible to make a wrong choice! In this instance we were thrilled with our Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Torte. Every bite was delightful, but the shortbread crust was totally amazing. Once your fork makes it through the silky smooth deliciousness of the sweet potato and caramel . . . BOOM! The chewy sweetness of the shortbread crust is (ironically as this sounds,) the icing on the torte! Sooo good!
What people tend to forget is, unlike cooking in general, baking is essentially a science, with no shortcuts or fusion-style freelancing behind great baking like this. You have to be dialed in to perfection in order to crank out breads and pastries that sell out every day, like they do at Jim’s Small Batch Bakery.
Which is precisely why Jim’s Small Batch Bakery is on our “nooks” and “crannies” list of Sarasota”s finest artisanal eateries.