Atlanta, Georgia has lots of bakeries and places to buy baked goods. Virtually every Kroger and Publix has a selection of baked goods on display, and you can go up from there – Whole Foods, World Foods, and others will all cater to your individual bread / muffin / cupcake desires. However, in an ongoing series of articles where I attempt to highlight some of the best small businesses in Atlanta, I’d like to give a very worthy mention to the Highland Bakery in Midtown. If you haven’t yet visited, you are most definitely missing out on not only some of the tastiest baked goods available, but also one of the best atmospheres of a restaurant / coffee shop to be found in Atlanta.
A year ago, I needed a birthday cake. I’m not the type of person who usually buys a birthday cake, or even celebrates a birthday all that much. However, this was for the person whom (at the time) was my new girlfriend, and I thought it would be an appropriate gesture. The specifications were quite precise – a particular makeup, and a particular frosting in a particular color with a personalized message “written” on top. Having never bought from a private bakery before, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of quality or pricing, but my order was taken over the phone and I was assured by the bakeries cake designer that I’d be treated very well. That was nice, to be able to speak to the person who would be actually making the cake, talking over design elements and aesthetics and ingredients. She was extremely knowledgeable and made several suggestions that ultimately made the final product much better.
I didn’t have to pay upfront for the cake, but was told the cost, which if I recall was around $20. Now, that seems quite steep for a birthday cake, but this was a special order and for a special occasion and my girlfriend was pretty specific in her tastes, so I thought it reasonable. I actually had the choice of going for a larger cake for about $10 more, but since this was a private birthday celebration I stayed with the original size.
When I went to go pick up the cake a few days later, I was immediately taken aback by the atmosphere in the bakery. What a tremendous buzz! It turns out the bakery is also a coffee shop and a sit-down diner / luncheon establishment, remarkable upscale given its location in the heart of midtown Atlanta, and seemed to be incredibly popular with the locals as I couldn’t find parking and it was literally standing room only inside. What a fantastic find for me – I love local coffee-shops (as I’ve written about before here on AC, Atlanta has some of the best) – and this place had flown under the radar for me until now. They don’t do much advertising; it’s mostly word-of-mouth. That’s how you find the best places, in my opinion. The customers speak with their feet; you’re as good as your last meal you serve, and the fact that this place was so popular without resorting to gimmicky PR tactics spoke volumes.
So, how was the cake? Well, it was brought up from the downstairs cake decorating room (it was ready on time, it just wasn’t stored with the rest of the bakery display) and … wow. It was absolutely stunning. Huge, even – only about 12″ across, but one of the tallest cakes I think I’ve ever seen. The frosting was precisely what I had asked for, as was the message on top. The cake decorator carefully packaged it into a handy carrying box and I was on my way home. The cake was a big hit with my girl. She ended up taking the remainder of it to work to share with her coworkers.
The Highland Bakery is a little gem. It’s not flashy, it doesn’t rely on gimmicks, it’s simple, good food served well and served at decent prices. That’s all it takes, really – it’s not rocket science! What a pity that more restaurants in Atlanta don’t follow these simple guidelines. The Highland Bakery is proof that these simple principles really do work. I’m definitely going to continue to keep my eye out for other local eateries / small businesses in Atlanta that deserve attention. In the meantime, pay the Highland Bakery a visit – even if it’s just for a cup of coffee. I think you’ll be delighted.
665 highland Ave. #10
Atlanta, GA 30312