For years now, New Orleans baker Charlotte McGehee has prepared beautiful doberge cakes and other pastries in a decidedly nontraditional setting for her craft: a corner bar.
Her memorably named baking business Debbie Does Doberge got its start by sharing the tavern kitchen at Twelve Mile Limit in Mid-City ,where she produces custom cakes for clients and supplies distinctive desserts for bar patrons to nibble with their cocktails. Now, she has own bakery across town and, appropriately enough, this one doubles as a bar.
McGehee and partner Charles Mary will officially debut Bakery Bar later this month. It’s at 1179 Annunciation St., the former home of Eleven 79, the Creole Italian restaurant from the late, great Joe Segreto. They plan to open April 19.
Bakery Bar has a full bar mixing classic and contemporary cocktails, and it will also serve a café menu of sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese plates. Most off all, it will have cake. That starts with eight-layer slices of doberge, as well as McGehee’s miniature “dobites,” which are two-bite pyramid-shaped versions of the New Orleans classic. Look for different spins on the theme too, like a “doberge brulee” among a roster of rotating dessert specials.
“We will finally be able to have that pastry case front and center,” said Mary. “We’ll have all of Charlotte’s beautiful cakes on display.”
In back, Bakery Bar will be McGehee’s production bakery for cake orders and restaurant clients. Up front, the cafe will be a place for light meals, a drink after work and a dessert destination after dinner.
“We’re always looking for those places where you can go to extend the night, have a dessert and a drink somewhere else after you had a great meal at one of the restaurants around here,” said Mary.
As Eleven 79, this restaurant space always had an alluring Old World ambiance. It still does, though the once-dark, lair-like setting of timber-framed brick is now brighter, with the shutters down and the woodwork gleaming.
The opening menu is getting an assist from chef Mason Hereford, formly of Coquette who is now developing his own café and sandwich shop, called the Turkey and the Wolf, nearby on Jackson Avenue. Some examples from the Bakery Bar’s opening menu are pimento cheese scone sandwiches, a breakfast sandwich and an open face shrimp remoulade banh mi.
Jeff Schwartz, another alum from Coquette and Twelve Mile Limit, is overseeing the bar here. He has an affinity for vintage cocktails, like the Roffignac, which he mixes with his own handmade shrubs, and an absinthe frappe, served up in a parfait glass like its own icy, boozy dessert.
Don’t be surprised if his drink list becomes a vehicle for dessert pairings. After all, the intersection of cake and cocktails is where this bakery got its start.
1179 Annunciation St., 504-616-2330
Project opening: April 19. Hours will be Tue.-Sun.,10 am-midnight.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.