In a perfect carbohydrate world, pre-packaged, cotton-like, preserved breads and fake-tasting pastries would not be consumed. There would be no need, because dark, hearty ryes, whole grains and pumpernickels would be readily available everywhere, along with made-from-scratch sweets. The mass-produced products, once thought of as progress, would be bronzed and relegated to museums as artifacts, to remind future generations that convenience is nice, but not always better.
In reality, we still have the supermarket shelves full of breads with unpronounceable ingredients, but there’s another choice; we have some of the best local bread available on one of the most walkable streets in Palm Beach County. Old School Bakery Cafe produces the best artisan bread and pastries you can find in South County, and if a trip to Atlantic Avenue is in your future, try this: park at the west end of the avenue, near Old School Square (there’s a new parking garage) and go east, walking off the calories in advance.
The small retail shop’s odd interior shape and rustic outdoor patio give the place an almost homemade feeling, which is appropriate for what’s sold here. The glass-front wood counter and shelves are stacked with black-and-white cookies, brownies, nutty sweet rolls, crisps and turnovers; bread choices include baugettes, ciabatta, focaccia, sourdough, rye and whole grain. A light menu of soups, salads and sandwiches complements the standout baked goods. Old School Bakers are old school when it comes to their methods: they bake overnight, so products are fresh every morning. And the staff spends a great deal of time sourcing ingredients, so they know they have the best and freshest to use.
Several products sampled recently: the black-and-white, with it’s thin, sweet icing over dense, slighly lemony cookie; the three-inch-square brownie, studded with bits of chocolate inside. It was intensely chocolate but not cloying. The sourdough bread was a credit to its type: the proper balance between airy and dough, a thin, crisp crust and just enough sour tang.
Prices are reasonable, given the high quality and the work that’s involved in turning out handcrafted products: sandwiches are $4.50 to $8.50; soups and soup combos $5 to $8 and salads $6 to $7.50. Baked goods prices range for seventy cents for a single dinner roll, to $2.25 to $4.50 for pastries and cookes and $2 to $8 for breads.
The Old School Bakery Cafe has a menu that satisfies, an atmosphere that relaxes, and quality worthy of their prices.
Old School Bakery Cafe, 814 East Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33483. Phone 561-243-8059. Open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Old School Bakery Wholesale, 45 North Congress Avenue (north of West Atlantic Avenue and west of Interstate 95), Delray Beach, FL 33445. Phone 561-276-0013. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. only.