Four Gavels

The Bakery at Cakes & Ale

  • Quick In/Out
  • Take-out Available
  • Walking Distance

2 blocks from the Courthouse. As if there was any doubt about DeKalb County’s supremacy as the premier courthouse dining destination in Georgia, the recent addition of Cakes & Ale’s posh bakery should solidify it at the top spot for years, if not forever.  Cakes & Ale, the nationally heralded dinner-only spot run by chef Billy Allin and his wife Kristin, was until recently several blocks away from the courthouse.  Their recent move into Decatur square spawned the adjacent bakery and the rest is courthouse dining history.  In the morning, stop in for a handmade croissant, bagel or english muffin and locally roasted Counter Culture coffee.  At lunch, chef David Sweeney treats diners to one of the most sophisticated (mostly) vegetarian menus in the city.  Sweeney is a groundbreaking chef, formerly of Dynamic Dish in Atlanta, who is known for using only the finest local produce to create never before seen dishes that are nothing short of spectacular.   The daily changing menu will always consist of one or two soups, a grain bowl (highly recommended), salads, sandwiches and a vegetable plate.  Recent soups have included a fennel szechuan ginger with coconut milk, and a local rutabega soup with red orange and toasted anise seed.  The grain bowl usually starts with either quinoa or millet and is then topped with either lentils, field peas or the like, along with feta, herbs and pumpkinseed oil.  The sandwiches are where you will find the day’s lone meat dish where options have featured locally sourced trout, ham or turkey.  A recent salad showcases Sweeney’s uniqueness and attention to detail:  Dandelion with Georgia white beets, black Arkansas apple, scallion, chevre, toasted filberts, kale sprouts and pink peppercorn.  The only gripe about Sweeney, that undoubtedly contributed to the downfall of Dynamic Dish, is that his dishes are extremely expensive.  There’s no doubt about that and his prices shake a lot of heads–especially considering that the menu is predominantly vegetarian.  The truth of the matter is that his desire for perfection and fussiness with ingredients leads to him paying top dollar for small batches of locally-sourced produce.  These costs far exceed the prices of commercially produced meats and fish.  The result is one of the most finely-tuned lunch menus around.  Unfortunately, the average lunch tab will run close to $20.00.  Note that portions here are extremely small so a $7 soup is not going to get you very far.  Otherwise, those with money to spare squeeze in at the counter or grab a table for a memorable lunch.  A big plus is that service is very quick for a restaurant of this caliber so you will be in and out in plenty of time to get back to court.

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