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North Carolina

City Bakery Café ~ Asheville NC

Asheville is a delightful mountain city in North Carolina. Filled with art galleries, great restaurants and friendly people, it reminds me somewhat of Humboldt on the West Coast.

The “Eat Local” movement is everywhere. There is a huge emphasis on eating healthy, on using locally grown food, from veggies to cheeses and meat and locally roasted coffee. Bumper stickers on cars invite you to the best trend since pure organics.

We had tasted City Bakery bread at the Sugar Beet Café a few weeks before, and knew we had to ferret it out and report for our readers.

In downtown Asheville, in the midst of art galleries, sits City Bakery Café in a beautiful old brick building. As you pop inside, cozy sitting chairs flank the doors. Local art adorns the walls, showcasing various artists for sale. It has that modern inside of old look, wood floors, upscale IKEA type furniture, antique with a twist. Tall tables line one wall, and you are staring at the most incredible bakery case, filled with cookies, tarts, cupcakes, pastries, cakes….you are staring at the sweeter side of City Bakery Café! All the groups are covered, vegan, chocolate, lemon, rich, simple, beautiful, the case beckons you close.

Lunch, and you need to leave lots of room for dessert. My knees feel weak. It reminds me of our favorite sandwich shop and bakery back home, Simple Simon’s.

Chalk boards proclaim the choices for breakfast and lunch. Homemade granola parfaits. Sandwiches on freshly baked ciabatta, sourdough. Vegan, vegetarian and meat choices. Soups. It all looks good.  You want to try it all.

Sometimes it is really hard to be a restaurant reviewer as we explore historical sites and try to capture the essence of our travels for our readers. How do you stay on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet when you are staring at a case full of the most luscious looking deserts? When your job is to taste tantalizing treads and describe them to our LivingHistorySites readers who want the scoop? And know that every bite I eat has to be written down in a journal, which my doctor goes over! Sigh. The sacrifices we make to report to all y’all!

Salad. That will have to do. I can write down the salad and not feel overwhelmed and splurge on desert! So, I opted for the Café Salad, only they were out of blue cheese crumbles and substituting a local farm’s Spinning Goat Cheese.

A beautiful plate full of spring greens arrived, dotted with goat cheese, sweet, crisp, shaved pears and sliced almonds. A cup of creamy vinaigrette on the side for dressing and a sunflower whole wheat roll finished the plate. On one of the first, beautiful, warm spring days, it was the ideal lunch along with unsweet iced tea.

The hottest sandwich they have is the Turkey Avocado, so Emily orders it. Light, fluffy, spectacular ciabatta, crisp on the edges, yet tender. Chewy but not rip your teeth out chewy like so many ciabattas are. Sliced turkey, fresh avocados, Applewood smoked bacon, and a savory basil mayo. Sandwiches are in the $6 range and come with potato chips, tortilla chips or greens.

Did we have desert? How could we write the article if we didn’t try something! Everything at the City Bakery Café is made from scratch, using the finest ingredients. Everything is all natural, no MSG, funky chemicals or preservatives.

Emily opted for a Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream and pretty spring flowers piped on top of it. She described it as tasty and moist, the frosting was delicate and not too sweet. Overall really light and good.

City cupcakes indeed, not country over sugary sweet at all. Light and good, I tried the Triple Chocolate Cupcake. Amazing! The chocolate buttercream frosting swirled, like the top of a Dairy Queen cone, dipped in chocolate. Gorgeous! The frosting was a light creamy chocolate, dipped into a thin ganache, just like a dipped cone. Moist and tender, the cupcake was sweet, without being overly cloying like grocery store cupcakes.

As we were deciding on dessert, a crystal plate of Baby New York Style Cheesecakes came out. Intrigued, we asked if it was lemon on the top, since Emily was craving lemon. Yes, lemon curd topped the little treasures! At only $1.50 each, they were a great deal for a small treat. Homemade graham cracker crust, thick and real tasting (as opposed to the processed chemical infested crusts so common in anything cheesecake these days.) Creamy cheesecake, not too sweet, with a slightly tangy, sweet lemon curd on top. Drizzled with that luscious ganache – they were light, delightful and utterly delicious!

Then for the perfect dessert, a City Bakery Café specialty, the Peanut Butter Barquette, Looking like a small éclair, it is actually a cookie crust, with a peanut butter cheesecake filling, covered in that beautiful light ganache. Part pastry, part cheesecake, it was one of the BEST desserts I have ever tasted – hands down. It is so good, Dave is driving us back up to NC while I write this, so we can get one (after having brunch at Sugar Beet Café!)

On a second visit, dare I admit, we drove back the next day, we tried a few more things! The City Bakery Éclair is absolutely to die for. A delightful pastry, filled to overflowing with a homemade, rich, smooth, creamy vanilla custard, topped with chocolate ganache.

Emily settled for a Key Lime Tart, tasty crust with a delicate lime flavored custard, very subtle. It was good, but did not have the tangy sweet tart flavor we were looking for.

Huge peanut butter fans, we also tried the Peanut Butter Cookie, which Dave described as “Tastyness!” It almost dissolves in your mouth, like the world’s best PB cookie (from Simple Simon’s) Thick, peanut buttery, one of the best PB cookies he has had in a long time! He will stick with the PB cookies from here on out.

LivingHistorySites absolutely recommends trying the City Bakery Café when you are in Asheville. With two locations to serve you, and parking at both, it is a great location!  Tons of great items from breakfast and lunch, to desserts that will please the whole family. 

The City Bakery Cafe is in downtown Asheville, and near the Botanical Garden, Civil War Battle of Asheville, Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Earth Science Museum, The Grove Arcade, and the Momentum Health Adventure Museum.

City Bakery Café

60 Biltmore Ave

Asheville NC

828-252-4426

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