Sunday Brunch: SCRATCHbread

Last Sunday I visited the delicious Bed Stuy haunt SCRATCHbread to eat one of my favorite breakfasts ever, for what would be the last time. Unfortunately, Oct. 11 was their last day in operation because (due to reasons that I refuse to accept as legitimate, even if they are) the business went under. I write this review as a PSA to SCRATCHbread to rethink their decision, and a plea to patrons of this incredible hole-in-the-wall to band together and find a way to reverse this unfortunate turn of events.

I met my friend who lives a few blocks away from the counter-service, take-out paradise that was SCRATCHbread. The line looped around the corner, but that wouldn’t deter us; we would wait as long as it took for our final taste of the elusive, perfect breakfast sandwich. After about an hour, we finally had our chance to order. We both got the breakfast sandwich, with a soft-boiled egg, spicy pork, avocado, and queso sauce.

By the time we got our food back to my friend’s apartment, the egg yolk and queso sauce had begun to leak from the sandwich. But don’t judge a book by its cover, because this oozy mess was nothing if not pure heaven. Some breakfast spots refuse to put soft-eggs on their breakfast sandwiches, and insist you settle for scrambled (I’m looking at you Marlow & Sons). Though I understand the inclination, it’s my mouth, my eggs, my body, and my choice. I know having a runny egg on my sandwich is going to make it messy; but it’s also going to make it exponentially more delicious, so I just plain don’t care.

On this particular hand-held breakfast, the spicy pork, slow-cooked to tender perfection, is made even juicier by the soft, yellow yolk which drips from the sandwich and onto your fingers–prime for licking. The queso sauce is creamy and sharp, while the avocado provides a delicate counter-balance to all of the other bold flavors. And the bread… oh my goodness the bread. Baked in SCRATCHbread’s wood fired ovens, the bread is chewy, yet somehow also crunchy, and the ideal spongey consistency to soak up the juices of the ingredients within. Hot damn.

When an excellent restaurant is forced to close, I’m always absolutely baffled and disappointed. I’ve never quite understood how so many mediocre eateries can remain in business, while absolutely special gems like SCRATCHbread are forced to surrender. Owner Matt Tilden announced the demise of his heart’s work in a goodbye message to customers, lamenting:

“This thing ain’t supposed to die though, its a brand for the people, its not about some chef’s ego, a hyped trend or like anything else really. It’s supposed to be approachable, fun, wholesome and no matter what, absolutely delicious. It’s bullshit that I have to destroy the most important thing in my life.”

A poster hung in the window of SCRATCHbread last weekend, asking customers to write down their favorite scrumptious menu items from the restaurant that they’d like to see in a cookbook, which just might be published in the future. I’d welcome a cookbook with open arms, but the truth is that when it comes down to it, it just wouldn’t be the same food. It just wouldn’t be the same welcoming neighborhood atmosphere, the same mouthwatering meals from scratch. This review is a desperate shout into the abyss, an impassioned, though perhaps fruitless, last ditch love letter to a partner who will be sorely missed. If ever, whenever, SCRATCHbread is able to reopen their doors (or new doors, in a different location) I’ll be there, and so should you. SCRATCHbread, I miss you already.