BY MARCY SHORTUSE - Some days, it really pays to go to work. Like a day when you pick up the phone to find Jack Damioli on the other end saying, “We’d like the Beacon staff to sample our new bakery menu ...
Yep, the light shines through the clouds and the birds start to sing when it comes to food sampling. You see, we here at the Beacon have the utmost honesty and integrity when it comes to reporting ... but we hold a quiet secret in our hearts.
We can be bribed with food.
Jacques Boudreau found that out a few weeks ago as well, when he brought up a sampler of coq au vin. The smell permeated the office as soon as the Loose Caboose employee stepped in. We smiled, we said thank you, we tried to wait for him to leave.
It is best to leave the food and back away quickly. Chef Jacques’ assistant seemed to understand that and he rapidly vanished, leaving a chorus of ever-quickening footsteps across the floorboards of the office. What starts as politeness quickly turns to fork-stabbing competitive spirit, and the chicken disappeared quicker than a roasted quail in a den of lions.
So back to the Inn Bakery. We went in shifts of two that day last week, armed with menus and appetites. We managed to last until 11:45 a.m., actually, which isn’t too bad. I believe I was the first to say, after many peeks at the clock, “It is now officially declared lunchtime, and I volunteer for the first shift.”
Reporter Liza and ad rep Julianne accompanied me.
When we entered the bakery Wendy Backhaus welcomed us. We pondered what to order. My eyes were immediately drawn to the roasted tomato, pepper and artichoke heart sandwich with mozzarella on focaccia bread. As much as my eyes were drawn to other items, they kept straying back to the veggies. Liza ordered the special, a cup of minestrone soup and a grilled chicken panini with provolone. Julianne got the spicy shrimp sandwich.
With the first bite the tastebud highlight was the bread. Fresh, not doughy, but springy ... and did I mention fresh? The second bite I took was full of mozzarella, as if the curd had just come from the cow yesterday. It was the perfect consistency, not too sweaty or odd. The tomatoes were saliva-sparking slabs of goodness as well. Artichoke hearts are one of my favorite foods, so needless to say they were enjoyed as well.
Julianne’s spicy shrimp was a big hit with all of us at the table. All germ speculation was cast aside, as we sampled everything.
“The portion size was perfect, I loved the ambiance and friendly environment,” Julianne said. “It was nice to see people coming and going on the street. The fresh-baked bread was delicious, of course, and it was a perfect balance of spices. Not too-much-so, just well-balanced.”
Julianne is a hard sell, so this was a triumph for the spicy shrimp.
Liza’s panini was also well-sampled and raved about.
“The cheese was perfectly melted and the chicken was real chicken,” Liza said. “Not pasteurized, constitutionalized, convoluted chicken stuff. And the minestrone soup had plenty of vegetables and was not over-cooked.”
Our second shift of diners included Dizey, Karen and Dusty. Karen got the same thing I did, which isn’t surprising as our tastes are extremely similar. Her take on the sandwich?
“Oh! The bread! The sandwich was amazing with all the ingredients blending together for a great taste. I also would recommend the Voo Doo chips, which have a unique taste but not spicy at all.”
The bakery has an assortment of gourmet chips to go with the sandwiches. They are far tastier than most, I must say, and they have about four different flavors to choose from.
Dizey is a regular at the bakery. There isn’t much on their menu that will surprise her, and she probably contributes so much to their monthly income that she pays the electric bill.She not only loved the food, but the people who served us as well.
“I really enjoyed our lunch at the Inn Bakery,” she said. “I usually only get things to go, but this time I got to sit and enjoy lunch inside. It was so windy that day and it’s just the most pleasant little bistro atmosphere in there.”
“I got the chicken panini with minestrone. I had tried everything else on the menu except the corned beef, so thought I’d give the daily soup-and-sandwich special a try. The sandwich was great, but the problem the Inn Bakery will always have is making the ingredients outshine the bread.
“I just love their bread. The sandwich was good, though.The chicken had plenty of flavor and the serving was very generous. The minestrone was just yummy. I’m not a big soup eater, but that was so chock-full of veggies and flavor. I guess my only complaint was that I couldn’t finish, but then, I got to have some soup with my supper, so what’s to complain about?
“And I have to put in a plug for Wendy and Karen and Howard and the rest of the crew at the Inn Bakery. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the food or the people that make me want to eat there so often. I’m a regular!”
Dusty had the panini as well. Keep in mind, he is on a diet. His wife was listening while he gave his critique. He is also a man of few words, as well.
“It was fine. I ate them. I enjoy paninis. They’re very good. It was a nice, light lunch. I would get it again.”
I don’t even need to go into their dessert menu, considering it’s a bakery. All I will say is that there were some chocolate cupcakes and slices of pumpkin bread in their display case that I seriously contemplated trading my lunch voucher in for when I saw them. But I’m glad I got what I did, and we all thank the Inn Bakery for letting us be their guinea pigs.
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