Athens’ favorite bakery

 

Village Bakery and Cafe

Nestled back on the corner of Alexander and West State Street,  with only a few parking spots, The Village Bakery and Cafe can be easy to miss if you’re not looking, but locals and students alike know this place very well.

While I think most places in Athens are unique, the Village Bakery and Cafe, is unlike any other place in our community, making it so loved and known to the community. Upon walking into the cafe, you’re greeted with an overwhelming smell of fresh bread, bright colors, and swarms of people that equal out to be much larger than the amount of parking. That’s how I know this is a favorite place-when you can barely find place to sit down. I’ve spent a lot of time here before, but when visiting to write this piece, I tried extra hard to soak up everything the bakery has to offer.

Bulletin boards fill the wall with local events, slogans, photos and local advertisements. One catches my eye that just says, “Socialism”, next to one from a student looking for work walking dogs. That’s what makes this place what it is: the mix of the unique community together in one place.

I come here for the food, like many others. With a limited amount of quick vegetarian and vegan options on Court Street, I come here for quick veggie frittatas, salads and pastries that I know will be fresh. To be as accurate and honest as possible for this article, I made sure I ordered a fair spread of food on this particular trip. I order the Karma, made with in-house bread, pesto and then topped with veggies. I also ordered their daily soup special, Tofu Curry and just to be safe, a raw, vegan Coconut and Blueberry ball, along with a cup of coffee, that’s also roasted locally in Athens.

Raw Coconut Blueberry balls
Tofu Curry soup
The Karma

The Village Bakery pride’s itself on creating their unique food by using local products and vendors, as well as growing their own food. Right now they are using products from over 15 vendors across the state of Ohio, and bring in new vendors each year to continue to grow. They also have their vendors locations’ painted on their walls.

Local, Christina Matzin says that not only is the food here good, but the “organization is run on some pretty respectable values”, making this one of her favorite spots in town.

Solar, wind, and geothermal are a few types sustainable energy sources that work behind the scenes to keep this bakery running. To accompany the bright, mismatching dishes, the walls are filled with hand painted slogans. “GeoThermal” is one that sits high above the pastry case, painted right on the air duct; representing the bakery’s efforts and pride in creating a place that’s not only welcoming, but also kind to the environment.

 

 

The Village Bakery’s tie to the community doesn’t stop at pastries and clean energy though. Their local grocery and fair trade gift section is another way they help to pull the community together, and help the local economy. Here, you can find a selection of wines from local vineyards, a small freezer of local grocery items and handmade gifts, jellies, syrups and more scattered around the bakery.

 

Owners, Christine and Bob took their passion for community and their success at the Village Bakery and opened up a second cafe on the other side of town. Just down the road from Larry’s Dawg House on Union St., the Catalyst Cafe, is a short bike ride from campus, and overlooks the Hocking River. The cafe opened less than 10 years ago to continue to bring delicious local products to the Athens community.

The two-story cafe offers a view of Athens like you can’t find anywhere else. Here you can find a few of the breakfast pastries offered at the Village Bakery, but at Catalyst. the main focus is on their locally roasted coffee, Italian Sodas, and smoothies. 

I opted for an Italian Creme Soda made with vanilla and almond, and a chocolate meringue cookie on my first trip to the Catalyst Cafe.

 

Student Phil Burdyn says he comes to the cafe to study, but his favorite part about the set of cafe’s “is their contribution to the local economy and the environment.”

The Fluff: not the average “Mutha Clucka” of a restaurant

Under the mask of a relaxed, crooner playlist and baked goods, The Fluff on Court Street has become a sort of central hub for Athens residents. Included in their logo are the words “Kitchen. Bakery. Drinks.” It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like at least one of the things included in that list.

On the northern end of Court Street between Pita Pit and the Red Brick Tavern, The Fluff is a pleasant place with drinks, food, and pastries that warm the soul. Their baked goods are made fresh every day and set out for customers to drool over and potentially purchase. Their chalk boards with the menu items colorfully written display the variety of options and fun environment that The Fluff offers.

2015-10-13 16.30.13When The Fluff opened, it was originally called “Fluff”, however, that name was added to in the last year. Why? The owners wanted to expand the definition of “Fluff.” In the past year, besides adding the word “The” to the title, the menu expanded. The little bakery matured into more of a restaurant scene with additions to the breakfast and lunch menus and the bold inclusion of alcoholic beverages to the beverage list. “It’s nice that they have a good mix of everything,” said junior biochemistry major and employee of The Fluff Emma Kessler. “I don’t know where else you can get breakfast and have a drink too.”

The menu is widely assorted with unique titles for the foods like “Mutha Earth” and “The Greenery.” But what items have customers hitting up the place so often? According to Kessler, some popular lunch items she has noticed are the “Mutha Clucka” and the “Thai Bowl.” The most popular, the Mutha Clucka, is a sandwich with roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, hummus, and their fresh, roasted vegetables all on rosemary focaccia bread. When it comes to drinks, Kessler said that lately the Irish Coffee has been a hit, and since it’s autumn, pumpkin spice lattes have been more in demand.

 

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Personally, my favorite is the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel, which can be served on three different types of bagel or even a biscuit. Kessler said that this also is a very popular menu item, especially for breakfast. And for drinks, I love their hot apple cider, but of course I’m not the only Fluff-goer. Freshman publication design major Becca Ryan commented, “I feel like I haven’t been there enough to have a favorite, but I love their hot tea.”

 

2015-10-13 16.30.58The food is not the only charming thing about The Fluff. People who go there also love the atmosphere of the little restaurant and bake shop. “It’s a fun place to relax with friends,” said Ryan. “I love how you can just chill and do homework and listen to their good music.”

To fill my personal pastry and apple cider cravings, I head up to The Fluff a couple times a week and it’s always a good experience. Although The Fluff might not be someone’s first option when going up to Court Street for some drinks or a meal, the restaurant has adjusted its menu and motif to make it compete better with other Court Street dining options.