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: