Are there two words in the Cheap Eats lexicon that sound better than “bakery” and “café”? We think not.
Ohlson’s Bakery & Café is a charming bakery that also serves food at about 10 tables in the front of its shop. As you sit, customers hustle in and out to make purchases at the gleaming cases of gorgeous baked goods. Lovely classical music plays in the background.
Since Ohlson’s serves breakfast and lunch items, it was obvious two visits were in order to provide a fair assessment (wink, wink).
Ohlson’s is closed on Sunday, so the first visit was a Saturday breakfast (which ends at 11 a.m. daily) with good friend Mary.
The menu offers the basics (two eggs and toast for $3.10) as well as Ohlson’s signature choices and its famous crepes. My biggest breakfast “problem” is whether to go sweet or savory. How can a person decide between the Quiche of the Day ($6.10) or Caramel Apple French Toast ($7.30) – a layered concoction with cranberry mascarpone that’s topped with warm cinnamon apples and caramel drizzle? Ugh!
In the interest of research, I ordered the Breakfast Panini of the Day ($6.75) and a Blintz Soufflé ($7.30) to taste. Mary zeroed in on the Cinnamon Swirl French Toast ($6.30) made with Ohlson’s homemade bread.
Lazing over delicious coffee (served in hodgepodge mugs), it was a collective “ahhh” when the choices arrived. The French toast was round! We detected seams from the tube pan on Mary’s thick slices of swirled cinnamon heaven. Dipped in custard batter, the bread was perfectly grilled and came with maple honey syrup.
The panini was also made with homemade bread. I loved the grooves (from a knife?) of the slices. It was filled with egg, spinach and Vermont cheddar.
The Blintz Soufflé was too cute (and too delicious). Crepes, filled with sweet cheese, arrived baked in a dish, topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. I couldn’t stuff them in my mouth fast enough.
Trip No. 2 with my aunt and mom produced equally delicious results.
The menu has a good selection of salads, sandwiches and panini, quiche and wraps.
Again I was torn, so I decided on the special Autumn Spinach Salad ($8.65) and a Tuscan Chicken Panini ($9.15). (After all, I could always take the panini home.)
The salad was a lovely combination of tastes and textures. Baby spinach came topped with dried fruits (cranberry, apricots, cherries), spiced cinnamon goat cheese and delicious candied pumpkin seeds. A side of tangy maple pumpkin vinaigrette was the perfect accompaniment.
The panini was equally scrumptious. Homemade bread enveloped a filling of grilled chicken, spinach and roasted red peppers with a three-cheese artichoke spread.
My aunt’s Artisan Pastrami Melt ($7.85) was also excellent. Served warm, tender pastrami was layered with red peppers, spinach, provolone and a pesto mayo between two slices of homemade asiago cheese sourdough.
Sandwiches and wraps come with a side of potato salad, pasta salad or homemade chips. Her pasta salad was a cute bowl of corkscrew pasta with tomato and pieces of fresh mozzarella.
My mother’s Ham & Swiss Quiche ($7.50) was a nice slice that was served with a lovely side of fresh fruit. The quiche was solidly good, but not memorable. Then again, it’s quiche. Only so much that can be done to it.
Salad prices run from $7.10 to $8.65, paninis and wraps are $9.15. Regular deli sandwiches made with Ohlson’s delicious bread (sourdough, whole wheat, all-grain, sour rye and white) start at $6.30 for a Wisconsin Grilled Cheese and go up to $7.85 for their Artisan Melts, like a Reuben. Homemade soups (including Autumn Lentil or Chicken, Pumpkin and Dumplings) start at $2.65 for a cup. Chowder and chili are $3.60 a cup.
Too full for dessert, we couldn’t resist perusing the counters for take-home items. The cookies are darling and range from big and round to delicate and small. Cupcakes looked stupendous (we loved the candy apple version) as did the specialty desserts like mini tarts, tortes and the fun Ohlson’s Ho Ho. Ohlson’s specialty is the Wisconsin Kringle – a flaky pastry ring in a variety of mouth-watering flavors like almond, apple and cherry.
Keeping it simple, I picked up a frosted pumpkin loaf. The next day it was a delicious reminder about how good this local bakery is at fulfilling both of its designations.
Ohlson’s Bakery & Café
Where: 8500 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville (626-7783, www.ohlsonsbakery.com)
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday; 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 7:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and holidays.
Wheelchair access: Yes