By Christian N. Kraus
A year ago next month, Michelle and Joe Bedgood expanded her Simply Sweet baking operation, acquired the space formerly occupied by Happy’s, renovated the inside space, and opened The Cakery on the Square in downtown Swainsboro. Now, with a name like The Cakery, one would not necessarily expect much more than, well…cake. I have to admit to a high amount of bias when it comes to cake. My mama is an outstanding baker. My daddy is, in some ways, even better. Neither of them can hold a dim candle to my Aunt Joanne. So, when I think cake, I call one of them. Plus, as much as I like to think of myself as an “adventurous eater,” I am also a creature of habit. I have a handful of my favourite places, and, generally speaking, I make my rounds there when I have some extra cash to eat lunch, which isn’t often. And, while we have gotten a cake or two for our daughters’ birthdays from there, which were excellent, until only recently, I have mostly ignored The Cakery. I mean, I just don’t really get a jones for cake in the middle of the day.
For the past several months, though, I have been hearing an increasing number of people recommend the place for their “grab and go” lunches—pre-prepared boxed lunches that you can either eat cold, or they will heat up for you to eat there, or you can just take with you. My youngest, Cat, had one of their chichen salad croissant sandwiches a few weeks ago, and she offered me a bite. I was surprised at the amount of flavor complexity and the texture. Normally, chicken salad (or tuna, for that matter) is far too mayonnaisey for me (did I just invent a word?). But, this was really nice, with grapes added in, and some other ingredients I couldn’t quite place. It was good.
So, I put The Cakery on my list of places-I-haven’t-been to give a try. I’ve already said I don’t usually have a whole lot of discretionary money on hand. We tend to budget pretty tightly around our house, and unless someone has given me Christmas or birthday money, I’m personally pretty broke. But, last Friday, I happened to have a little spending money, and no leftovers sitting in the fridge to make me feel guilty about grabbing lunch somewhere in town. I guess I could have made a peanut butter sandwich and put it on an old hamburger bun, but…I felt like splurging.
I will admit, once again, that with a name like The Cakery, I did not expect what I saw when I walked in. I don’t know what I expected, actually—maybe just a bare wall with refrigerated cases holding cakes…I don’t know. And, I will also admit that I was in a hurry to get to campus to meet some colleagues to play music that afternoon. So, I did not really have an hour to sit and take in my surroundings. But, the place was just beautifully remodeled. The exposed brick wall on the south wall (your left as you walk in) had been whitewashed to really make the beauty of its texture pop. There was a cool, vintage table on the right that held all sorts of Cakery goodies. The counter was littered with glass-topped cake covers, displaying a dizzying array of fresh baked cakes that, I presume, were for their cake-by-the-slice options. And the grab-and-go lunch case was packed with their regular chicken salad and chicken salad croissant sandwich options, some other salads, and, their special of the day, which turned out to be bar-b-cue chicken slider sandwiches. A box of four of those little darlings was less than ten dollars—you can’t do that well at Zaxby’s, hardly, and they were hand made! So, grabbed my to-go sliders and got.
Back at my office, I gently placed those little bites in the microwave and set the timer for one minute. I don’t like my reheated food too hot. I was afraid I would find myself wishing I had additional sauce, but I could tell that they’d added the sauces to the meat (which I almost always prefer, anyway), so I took my box back to my desk and sat down. I bit into one of the larger ones which looked like a Hawaiian roll, and, people…it was delicious. It was like Goldilocks had made it—not too mustardy, not too sweet, not too spicy…it was a “just right” blend of all three flavours. And combined with the roll, it just all sort of melted in my mouth. Needless to say, those four little snack-sized babies didn’t last long, and I finished up wishing I’d gotten two boxes.
I’d gone in with really no sense of what it would be like. I’d really gone in blind with no expectations. And I’d been met with a wonderful little, deliciously perfect little lunch. I admit I wished I’d had a little extra sauce to dip my sandwiches in, but I’m just being nit-picky. I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the place looks inside, the service was wonderful, attentive and friendly, and the food was great. I hate that it too me so long to try the place out, but it certainly won’t be long before I’m in again—assuming I can find some extra cash laying around.