Golden brown croissants, crumb cakes and cookies the size of small plates line the warmly lit case in Root Baking Co. But these delicious treats are not the star of the show. The focus rests on the loaves of freshly baked artisanal bread piled to the right of the pastries. The inviting bakery-cafe hybrid hides tucked away on the second floor of Ponce City Market (PCM). After moving from Charleston, S.C., to Atlanta this fall, Root Baking Co. opened its doors on Sept. 27.

The bakery offers a daily rotation of freshly baked breads. When my friend and I visited on Sept. 30, the options were multigrain, sorghum, sesame semolina and whole wheat. Free samples lined the case, enticing those waiting to order. After tasting more than our fair share, we determined that the European-style hearth breads tasted fuller than typical bread. The crust was tough, and the soft insides held intense flavor. The sesame semolina was the most unique of the day’s options, bursting with nutty flavor from the seeds coating the crust.

In addition to breads, Root Baking Co. offers a small assortment of vegetable-based meals and pastries. Sunday brunch is available all day but strays from a traditional brunch menu with options such as lamb terrine croissant sandwiches and turmeric-cured trout. They also offer an assortment of drinks, including a tumeric tonic and a variety of teas.

Whitney Forbis/Contributing

To combat cold season, I ordered chicken soup, a complex take on the classic. Though the chicken and rice were delicious, the herbs nearly overwhelmed the small portion. As someone who dislikes cilantro, the soup felt lacking after I removed the clumps of herbs.

We also ordered the daily bread and butter combination. Three thick slices of multigrain bread arrived with a scoop of whipped butter. The butter melted into the multigrain bread, drenching the seeds with rich flavor. To top off our meal, my friend and I split a crumb cake. The pastry’s top layer bursted with cinnamon sugar. It was a messy treat, but worth the explosion of powdered sugar that we created on the table.

The vibe of the restaurant was light and airy, fitting with PCM’s aesthetic of exposed bright shiplap. After ordering from the kind staff, we sat at one of the large communal tables and took in the scene. From our seat, we could see behind the counter and through the large windows into the kitchen. The entire breadmaking process was visible from the stools.

At its core a wholesale bread bakery, Root Baking Co. offers loaves for reasonable prices. While the sesame semolina runs only $6.50 for an entire loaf, my chicken soup cost $10. If you are looking for traditional-style bread for a sensible price, Root Baking Co. is worth the trek up PCM’s spiral staircases. But if you’re in the mood for a meal, you’re better off staying downstairs.

3/5 stars

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