Michelle Gayer is one of the most acclaimed pastry chefs in the country. Nominated for a James Beard Award for her work at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, she currently does pastry for two of Minneapolis’s best restaurants, La Belle Vie and Solera. So what’s she doing selling $4 sandwiches and pans of take-and-bake brownies from a tiny bakery off a food court?
No, really, this is actually happening. Gayer’s new bakery, the Salty Tart, is smack dab in the middle of the Midtown Global Market, the multi-vendor food destination occupying the old Sears building at Chicago Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis.
Gayer’s sandwiches aren’t just any sandwiches, of course. The vegetarian one, for example, is made by baking focaccia—each studded with a quartet of grape tomatoes—then splitting and filling the bread with cucumbers, feta, hummus, braised artichoke hearts, olives, and fresh basil leaves. For $4! Needless to say, the take-and-bake brownies ($12 a pan) are extraordinary, too. Made with Valhrona chocolate, they fill the house with intoxicating aromas as they cook, and emerge as fudgy and lush delights.
Not that there aren’t more complicated options at the Salty Tart: The fresh-fruit tarts are white-tablecloth perfect, made with a buoyant vanilla pastry cream. If you’re planning a birthday party, you can build your own deluxe cake; $34 will get you something like a Tahitian vanilla-bean cake, with alternating layers of peach compote and ginger pastry cream, all frosted with caramel Swiss butter cream.
What gives? “I think I’ve always been a rustic girl at heart,” Gayer says. “But I’m also a city girl. As long as I have my ingredients, my technique, that’s what makes me happy. And I’ve always wanted my own bakery, so this is it. I’m really happy with my 400 square feet. I don’t need any more than this.”
The Salty Tart, 920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-874-9206 » saltytart.com