Lunch hour is serene along Fort Point Channel. Even the construction work comes to a halt. We grab one of the coveted public tables along the water in front of the Children's Museum and dig into brimming bags of fare from the snazzy new Flour Bakery + Cafe behind the museum, and Yada Yada Cafe, a friendly mom-and-pop shop on the same street. It's picnic season and time to celebrate.
Flour's second location opened to much fanfare. The new outpost of the popular South End bakery, owned by former pastry chef Joanne Chang, has a sleek industrial look. Lines at lunch are so long, my friends tell me, that the nickname is Hour. We phone in our order, as we do for Yada Yada, to avoid the lines.
The star of the picnic table is Flour's bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich ($7.25), which is toasty and warm, the bacon incredibly smoky from applewood. A tangy and lemony hummus ($7.25) on crusty house bread is offset with cucumbers and sprouts.
Two quiches of the day ($4.95) are offered with mesclun greens. The small wedge (not substantial enough for lunch) of broccoli, cheddar, tomato, and ham tastes mostly of the smoky ham; smoked salmon with brie has very little flavor. PB&J ($4.50), which I've heard has a following, comes on the house bread with generous, barely sweetened raspberry jam and voluptuous peanut butter: This PB seems to have more body than what's in ordinary jars.
Large buttery cookies ($1.50 each) hit each note -- peanut butter, gingery molasses, and bittersweet Scharffen Berger chocolate chips.
For breakfast one day, Flour's egg sandwich ($5.95) comes in a crusty bun with bacon or ham, lettuce, and tomato. Instead of a fried or scrambled egg, the bright yellow round inside is a tender, eggy, custardlike mixture. Confections such as sour cream coffee cake ($2.50) and muffin cakes ($2.50) are exceptional, tasting of real butter and top-quality ingredients, like a tiny dab of lemon curd inside a poppyseed muffin.
Flour Bakery + Cafe , 12 Farnsworth St., Fort Point Channel. 617-338-4333. Open Mon-Fri 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sun 9 a.m.-3 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
The homestyle fare at Yada Yada is simpler all around, as is the place. Where Flour has a large storefront near the Congress Street end of Farnsworth, Yada Yada is halfway down the block, on the first floor of a commercial building, with the entrance along the side, almost out of sight. The family-owned cafe is run by Albanian-born Shpresa and Sadik Loloci, who worked for the previous owner for five years. Now sons Fabio and Jetnor and daughter Blerina are here. They all call me "hon."
Super veggie wrap ($6.50) is dense with crisp cucumbers, red peppers, and avocado. A creamy dill-flavored chicken salad sandwich ($6.25) has luscious meat inside French bread. PB&J ($3.50) on seven-grain bread has thick grape jelly and lots of peanut butter. Baklava ($1.89), soaked in a syrup that isn't too sweet, is the best of the homemade desserts.
Yada's breakfasts, particularly a spinach and feta cheese omelet, with home fries and English muffin ($5.25), are outstanding. Leaves of fresh spinach and creamy feta dot the egg cake; the potatoes are crisp hunks.
About 30 minutes into our lunch, the jackhammers start again. Other diners are circling our table. When we stand up, they swoop in. "This is like getting a good parking space," I hear someone say.
Yada Yada Cafe, 34 Farnsworth St., Fort Point Channel. 617-451-9232. Open Mon-Fri 7 a.m.-5 p.m. MasterCard, Visa, and AmEx accepted. Wheelchair accessible.