take the cake cafe – lunch in cincinnati

Last month, my wife and I had lunch with my aunt and uncle from Dallas, when they came up to Cincinnati for a wedding. On twitter, I’d asked where a good place to have lunch would be, and several people answered that Take the Cake Cafe, better known for their cakes, also had the best lunch in town.

The lunch was really good; I think three of us had chicken salad, and my wife had quiche. However, I was more interested in spending time with Mike and Emily than the food we were eating. I had a lot of catching up to do, and still do, but the lunch was really a great time to talk with them.

I wanted to get back to the cafe again so that I could pay more attention to the food, which we finally did today! The cafe is in Northside, a progressive community north of downtown Cincinnati, with lots of locally owned businesses, a farmers’ market on Wednesday evenings in the warm weather, and lots of interesting old buildings. The main strip along Hamilton Avenue has a wide variety of businesses, including Take the Cake Cafe.

We got there just after noon, after visiting the Findlay Market Farmers’ Market and getting a bunch more perennials, some fresh garlic, baby carrots and beets, and some sugar snap peas (which means veggies are starting to make it to the farmers’ markets!). The cafe was busy, but not overcrowded, and the menu looked great; it changes daily, and Twitter seems the best way to find out the day’s menu.

The look is semi-industrial, as it’s a working bakery. Seating is community style; find a seat and sit down. There are also stools along the counter, and the counter is filled with the day’s pastry selection.

Today’s menu included shrimp bisque, pizza bread pudding, and chipped beef and a poached egg on homemade biscuits (these looked so good, I got one just to take home).

My wife decided on a salad of blueberries, spiced pecans and goat cheese. She got the goat cheese on the side because she doesn’t generally like it, and I enjoyed it instead (it was great!). I had a spicy chicken and black been wrap with a salad. It was nicely spicy and really good. My wife thought the salad was very good, but could have used more blueberries.

To finish lunch, my wife had a cream puff, which was filled with pastry cream. She really liked it, and, while I was paying for lunch, she talked to Gail, who made the cream puffs, and they talked about doing coffee cream to fill the puffs, which means I’ll have to get down to TtC again to try those!

I got 2 small desserts because I couldn’t decide. I brought home a fruit tart and had a peach tart there. The peach tart was… fantastic. They used shortbread for the crust, and the peaches were oh so good. I have no doubt the fruit tart is also good.

I don’t really do restaurant reviews here, but I do like to talk about places I eat now and then. The only downside I see with TtC is that it’s 45 minutes from home! I’ve had lunch at lots of places in Cincy, and I have to say this is my favorite place. The meal was just right. Other places have good food, but I tend to either feel it’s way too much, or it’s just ordinary. Take the Cake offers not only great looking cakes and desserts, but lunches that are really tasty, and the neighborhood is interesting and fun, too. Is it the best food? I don’t know. Is it the best location? Probably not, but maybe. It’s the whole package that works, I think, as well as friendly staff and customers.

If you’re in Cincinnati and don’t give Take the Cake Cafe a shot, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Other Take the Cake Cafe reviews:

  • Wine Me, Dine Me
  • Food Hussy
  • About Curt McAdams

    I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


    1. beautiful pictures. makes me want to go out and get a fruit tart now. what exactly is pizza bread pudding? i’m very curious about that

    2. sawye,

      The pizza bread pudding looked like a big, thick bread with pizza stuff in it, probably with pizza sauce drizzled on it. Good idea for a different take on pizza and bread pudding both!

    3. I live about 20 minutes north of Cincy and had never heard of this restaurant! Hope you do more reviews of the Cincy restaurants!

    4. Kathy,

      I’m down in Cincy now and then, and hopefully working in town again soon; I’ll try to get some more restaurants in here, though I don’t really do a lot of restaurant reviews.

      Take the Cake is definitely worth the trip down there; it’s a great atmosphere and really nicely done food. Leave room for something for dessert, too!

    5. Wow, that looks great. I will be in Cincy mid-July for my brother’s 40th birthday; we will have to check Take the Cake out. Thanks!

    6. DBo,

      Take the Cake is also a great place to get a 40th birthday cake! They make some amazing cakes and cupcakes, too.

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