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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Than Dessert

Le Cakery’s mouthwatering menu

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Happy hour comes in the morning at Le Cakery, a charming bakery and cafe in the village of Elm Grove. When Hakan Hare purchased the business last year, he found the prevailing thought to be that Le Cakery made only cakes. If he could only get customers in the door, he thought, they would find that in addition to custom desserts and a large selection of pastries and muffins, Le Cakery offers a concise menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and daily specials. He lured customers into his shop by selling a cup of Door County coffee for a dollar from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. The rest is history.

 Now Hare can depend on a crowd of commuters on their way to work, parents who have just dropped their children off at school, and village officials who come in every morning not only for their $1 coffee, but for three types of quiche (bacon and broccoli, ham and asparagus, spinach and feta), oatmeal and a full breakfast (two feta- and parsley-stuffed rolls served with a tomato and olive salad and a cup of yogurt drizzled with honey) that draws on the traditions of Turkey, Hare’s birthplace.

 Hare’s expertise in owning and managing a successful restaurant was developed over a lifetime of service in high-end restaurants, bars, hotels, cruise ships and, most recently, as manager of Michael Feker’s Il Mito Enoteca.

 Hare says he is acutely aware of the importance of detail and strives to make every single aspect of his business the best it can possibly be. Hare hired Maura Sullivan, a self-taught chef who operates with an innate culinary talent and an unrelenting drive to get the flavor of each dish just right. Word is getting around that Sullivan’s soups alone are worth a visit to the light-filled cafe. How the young chef packs that much flavor into cream of baked potato or buttercup squash soup is a mystery—one diners will love trying to solve.

 Creative spreads and fresh ciabatta rolls take Le Cakery’s made-to-order sandwiches to the next level. Popular daily specials like the chicken pesto wrap and scrumptious Parmesan-crust personal pizzas are likely to become permanent members of the menu. Take lunch at one of Le Cakery’s outside tables, a perfect perch from which to admire the quaint day-to-day life on Watertown Plank Road. Le Cakery’s unique breakfast and lunch menu can also accommodate catered events.

 With a name like Le Cakery, it better have some pretty magnificent desserts. Pastry chef Emilia Orlando makes sure that it does… and then some. The eclairs, with their thick chocolate shell and pillowy vanilla custard, are dream-worthy. Le Cakery’s brownies—squares of dense chocolate fudge cake layered with buttery soft cinnamon cream cheese frosting, finished with another layer of chocolate—might just be the best you’ve ever had.

 The shop is best known for its meticulously prepared celebration cakes, a fact that has landed it on Bartolotta Catering Co.’s coveted “recommended cake supplier” list. Customers have an impressive selection of cake flavors, fillings and icings to choose from as they work with Le Cakery in designing their customized cakes.

 Le Cakery is a great example of how the reassuring presence of an owner like Hakan Hare can transform a good business into a great one.

 Le Cakery is located at 13320 Watertown Plank Road, Elm Grove. For more information, call (262) 789-0500 or go to lecakery.com.

Hours are Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.