This French-inspired Bexley bakeshop offers exceptional gluten- and nut-free treats in a warm environment.
At Bexley's Cherbourg Bakery, a chalkboard wall immediately greets guests with a promise that the shop's scratch-made products are gluten-, nut- and dye-free. “We believe simple is better and less is more,” the wall notes in attractive script, signed “Lady Cherbourg,” or Geri Peacock, the bakery's owner.
Open since 2010, the Drexel Avenue shop sits in an unassuming strip of buildings near Bexley's East Main Street hub. Last May, Peacock opened another location at 1804 Race St. in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Both of the French-inspired bakeries, named after Cherbourg, France, a port town where Peacock's family has ties, feature white tile and robin egg blue walls that match the hue of Cherbourg's city sign. Open kitchens allow guests to watch staff craft delicacies by hand, in small batches, from minimally processed ingredients.
The menu notes the bakery's best-seller is the Double Lemon Bar ($3), and with one bite, it's understandable why. On top of a tidy, crisp shortbread base sits a brilliantly executed rich and gooey interior, which provides an intense lemon tartness that eventually subsides to a satisfyingly sweet endnote. Also outstanding are the Cut-Out Sugar Cookies ($2.50), which change shape by season. Eschewing colorful hues and candy sprinkles, these cookies feature a white, piped buttercream frosting that covers a sturdy cookie base. Don't overlook them for their simplicity as they are near perfect in taste.
The S'mores Bars ($3.25), made from the bakery's ground gingersnap cookies, are layered with chocolate chips and gelatin-free marshmallow fluff, gracefully balancing sweet with spice. The doughnuts change flavor by season or whim, making frequent trips to the bakery worthwhile. Flavors include the shop's standard cinnamon or chocolate ($3 each) as well as seasonal specialties like lemon poppy seed, peach, pink lemonade, pumpkin, eggnog and peppermint ($3.25 each).
On the savory side, there is quiche ($4.75) or strata ($5). On a recent visit, the quiche was presented humbly on a white plate with a bit of broken crust. Creamy and indulgent, the egg and cheese pie did not disappoint. The Zucchini Mini Loaf ($4.50), served with butter from Hartzler Family Dairy, is moist and flavorful with a subtle sweetness.
An espresso machine doesn't occupy the counter at Peacock's shops. In Bexley, the chalkboard wall notes, “We make one cup of coffee, and we do it well.” The coffee, prepared pour-over style ($3), is strong and smooth. Each cup is individually crafted from freshly ground beans, hence the loud grinding that periodically pops up in the background. In Bexley, visitors can choose between a dark roast using beans from One Line Coffee and a light roast sourced from Roosevelt Coffee Roasters.
Inspired to bake a bit of Cherbourg at home? Follow Peacock's blog, besweetcherbourg.com, for food inspiration and gluten-free baking tips. She also graciously posts recipes for some of the shop's best-sellers. Bags of Cherbourg Bakery flour, free of gluten, gum and nuts, can be purchased at the store or online.