A Baker's Wife Pastry Shop
4200 28th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55406-3123
I don't remember exactly how I discovered "A Baker's Wife". I mean, it's in the neighborhood, so I was probably just at the hardware store next door, when I smelled the deliciousness and had to stop in to see if the taste was as good as the smell. I like to think of that first visit, even though I don't fully remember it, because it represents a divide in my life. The time in my life before I knew about "A Baker's Wife" stretches behind me dark and gray and full of horrid Crispy Creme donuts. In front of me is a time when Saturday morning can mean really good coffee in styrofoam cups and pastry so good it makes you have to close your eyes for a second so you can get lost in the taste of it.
If you go, get the chocolate croissant. Or on second thought, maybe don't, because if you do, it will furnish you with all of the will-power you need to avoid eating chocolate croissants anywhere else in the world (even, possibly, France). You will never want to eat another one that doesn't come from Gary's inspired oven. I have a friend who doesn't eat Cheetos because he once heard about how good they were on the assembly line fresh out of the cooker, and when he gets a bag all he can think about is that he's having a second-class Cheeto experience. After your first bite of "Baker's Wife" chocolate croissant, it will be like that for you and all other chocolate croissants.
A safer order might be the creme brulee danish. Nobody else makes such a thing, so it won't ruin it for you at other bakeries. In fact, who would have thought of filling your danish with gorgeous creme and then browning sugar on top of it? I'll tell you who. A baking genius. That's who. When you order this danish, glance sideways at people around you. They will be nodding slightly, as if to say, "Good choice, my friend. You are someone who knows about this little Minneapolis secret."
Then again, you might just want a donut. Forget everything you know about cake donuts at bakeries, and bite into something that more closely resembles a mini-donut all growed up. They can give it to you plain, or they can roll it in cinnamon sugar for you. Either way, the outsides will crunch as they yield to your teeth, and the insides will melt in your mouth. You will wonder just how you could have bought a piece of perfection for so little money.
Money is the one thing I don't understand about "A Baker's Wife". Here they are serving the best pastries in town, and they charge about half of what anybody else does. You can go there with $2.00, and leave with a donut, a cup of coffee, and some change. Or you can splurge and spend $1.69 on your pastry and get the danish or the croissant. $1.69, really, what year is it? In my day and age, people would easily give you $2.50 for such deliciousness. But don't tell Gary.
There's a hand-drawn sign in the shop with two pac-man heads having a conversation. One of them says "Do you have anything low-fat and low-calorie here?" The other one says, "Water". In the corner, someone has written the words "True story". So don't embarrass me, after I told you to go there, and expect to stay on your diet. We're talking pastry here. Fabulous, cheap, top of the line pastry. We're not talking "Splenda" and "Olestra".
"A Baker's Wife" is under "A" in the phone book due to creative alphabetizing. It also receives an "A" from me for spoiling me on many dozens of weekend mornings. Oh, and it's closed on Mondays, just like the Walker.