City Bakery Cafe, Asheville NC

This is Marie, contributing the latest episode which tangentially involves desserts. This visit was to City Bakery Cafe in Asheville. It was my turn to choose the restaurants to visit on this trip. I let Grant suggest one of the places he has on his list, picked a place we’d been to before, and the third was the City Bakery Cafe. Actually, what attracted me in the first place was the bakery portion of the name. I am extremely fond of cookies, pastries, and fresh crusty bread.

I have fond memories of a lovely little place in my college town, Middlebury, Vermont, that had all of the above plus cheese and other snacks, and ever since I have been hoping to find another place that makes me feel the same way. This is not one of those places (for one thing, there are more than two tables at which to sit, and the chairs do not wobble) but it is nevertheless one I can see going back to frequently. They rotate out their breads; some are everyday things and some are only made on one or a few days of the week. I especially want to try the oatmeal bread, but that is apparently a Monday recipe so it’s unlikely I will get to try it anytime soon.

This particular location is the latest of three for this business. Their oldest location was flooded out and ruined when Asheville suffered a flood in 2004 that affected riverside businesses. They had apparently just branched out to their Charlotte Street location at the time and were able to consolidate there. The location we went to is the one downtown on Biltmore, the newest location, which opened in 2005. It took over from a prior cafe type restaurant and garnered some positive comments in the stories they had framed up on the walls.

Like many restaurants in Asheville, City Bakery works hard to buy locally sourced ingredients. The menu here is mostly sandwiches, In the mornings, they offer some smaller sandwiches on bagels, but the lunch menu is also available. There is a soup of the day and judging by the corn chowder that we tasted, those have to be extremely popular.

I had the roast beef sandwich and a raspberry thumbprint cookie. When we photographed my plate, I tried to hide the fact that I was impatient and couldn’t resist a bite before the meal came but it’s visible. Just take it as a measure of the irresistability of the baked goods. Grant’s lunch photographed a little better. He had the chicken salad, which he said was wonderful, and a side of a very good pasta salad that included tiny gherkins, olives and cherry tomatoes. Our daughter had a big bowl of the corn chowder and a cupcake. We had to get her the cupcake – they had classic video game designs on them like Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Mario Brothers! Check out the cupcake page on their web site if you want a good reason to jump in your car and head over there right away.

You can order more than just a sandwich; this is a full-service bakery with wedding cakes and other treats available. You can also get an event catered, if you are close enough, or rent out an event room. This is yet another Asheville restaurant that’s going to make our rotation. The city’s just too full of great places to eat.

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Other blog posts about City Bakery:

Atlanta Food Critic (Jan. 30 2011)