Take the Cake opened its new location in Northside quite recently. Formerly on Main Street, and then a little further down Hamilton, Take the Cake is known for– what else– cakes. With the opening of the new location, Doug Faulkner and Melissa Mileto are expanding their business into a “chalkboard”-style cafe that features house-made lunches every day.
Now, writing about Take the Cake is like writing about Slim’s– I can write all I want about what I had, but I can’t guarantee that the menu will be the same when you go. There are a few standards: Doug’s biscuits (which are as good as your grandma’s, I assure you), his partner, James’ barbecue (which isn’t offered nearly enough). There are always vegetarian options, including salads– and, of course, their delicious desserts.
Full disclosure: Doug’s partner, James Heller-Jackson, is a good friend of mine, and he invited me over for lunch on a couple of occasions to discuss a project we’re working on together. I picked a few of my favorites (in the hopes that perhaps they’ll come back, if I ask nicely enough…):
Chicken salad: This had a light, roasted red pepper aioli as a dressing, with some cold haricot verts over a green salad and fresh salsa. Easily the best chicken salad I’ve had (that wasn’t my own).
Pierogi: Well, they’re sort of pierogi. These are more like potato ravioli, topped with a garlicky cream sauce and roasted red peppers– an homage to pierogi, but much lighter. The best part were the caramelized onions on top– a friend who was eating this with me, and a vegetarian, really liked this, as it was vegetarian without being a salad. We fought over the asparagus, which was tender-crisp.
Sticky chicken: This was, to steal a tagline from another kind of chicken, finger-licking good. The honey-based sauce wasn’t too sweet, and was a beautiful complement to the cold vegetable salad topped with blue cheese. Were I not in the middle of the restaurant, I’d have licked my fingers, plate, chewed on the bones… it was really quite tasty.
Blackberry Jam Spice Cake: Yum! Cream chees frosting, salted caramel, and a blackberry-infused spice cake. This is one of my favorite cakes that TTC makes; I would love to see it filled with blackberry jam (but I’m a big jam fan).
I’d really like to try their Vietnamese hoagie (banh mi) and James’ barbecue (which he just raves about, and so does everyone else!), but since it’s in Northside, and I’m in Mason, I only get the chance to visit on Saturday. The best part about Take the Cake? Fresh ingredients, prepared in an approachable, yet inventive way. They cook the way I cook– but I don’t have to dirty up my kitchen. TTC is open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch, and you can check them out on Facebook for daily updates of their chalkboard menu.