Best Cakes 2002 | The Cream Puffery | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
If the movie Chocolat had been about pastries instead of chocolate, the Cream Puffery could have played the part of the sensuous shop. Partners Amy DeWitt, a pastry chef and cake designer, and Cuban-born Lourdes Sanchez have created a dessert-lover's paradise. Although the Puffery also serves commendable authentic Cuban sandwiches and espresso, the cream of the crop are the cakes and tortes: luxurious concoctions made from European chocolate, marzipan, buttercream, ganache, mangos and passion fruit, as well as liqueurs and japonaise (almond meringue). The wedding cakes are unique and gorgeous, and the cuatro leches cake milks vanilla, caramel, chantilly and heavy creams for all they're worth. Meanwhile, women on the verge of something, anything, should check out the PMS torte, a soothing mixture of frangipane (almond pound cake, the richest, moistest version imaginable) layered with chocolate chiffon cake, soaked with a brandy-spiked simple syrup and coated in ganache.

There are indeed two boys who run the 2 Boys Baking Company, but they're shy. Instead of tooting their own horns, they insist that their baked goods speak for themselves -- and they're right. Still, it's hard to believe that just two people can produce all the wonderful items that fill this tiny spot to overflowing. Everything is made from scratch -- 2 Boys doesn't believe in preservatives or stabilizers and features natural ingredients and organic whenever possible -- and the busy bakery will even take special orders. But you can't go wrong with any of the regular offerings: six-layer chocolate-mousse cake; Italian cherry-ricotta deep-dish pie; Portuguese sweet bran bread with currant and walnuts; pretzels made from pastry dough and coated with chocolate or almonds; three-seed loaf made from cottonseed, linseed and flax; Cajun quiches; oversized peanut butter cookies; and soups and sandwiches. Obviously, 2 Boys is better than none.

A real baguette is a work of art. While many bakeries attempt to create the elongated, cylindrical French bread, few are able to master its crisp, brown crust and airy, chewy center. But Breadworks succeeds were so many others fail. Here the baker rolls the dough tight so it rises just right, then leaves it in an enormous brick-and-tile oven until the crust has formed a crunchy, rustic-style shell that will tear into craggy, soft-centered pieces while still holding up for crostini slices. You can now enjoy the finished product at Breadworks -- the store was recently remodeled to include a cafe, where its breads are shown off in sandwiches -- and still buy baguettes to take home. Bag any imposters: We give our dough to Breadworks.

Nestled in the middle of a nondescript strip mall, Daniel's of Paris is a cheery little bakery that makes gorgeous cakes, tarts, cookies and the town's best cinnamon rolls. These soft, doughy bundles of goodness are flecked with plenty of cinnamony sugar and topped with a thick slick of fondant, an icing made from sugar, water and cream of tartar that's been cooked until it sticks up in cresty waves. But what makes these rolls really rock is the thin shmear of baked almond cream in the center. C'est magnifique!

Done right, this yeast-pumped egg bread, traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays, is something worth craving any day. Every Friday, Breadsmith has perfect challah ready to go: sweet, spongy-soft, braided loaves that sport even, smooth crusts with a thin, egg-yolk sheen. Eat it right away for the most velvety of fresh-bread textures -- oy! -- or let it sit out for a few days and then make the best French toast ever. Looking for something else to fill your bread basket? Breadsmith offers a dozen other fresh-baked loaves each day, including their toothsome honey-sweetened multigrain.
Get to D'Eggos early if you crave the best biscuits in town. They come out of the oven piping hot at the crack of dawn, whisked to your table by the efficient and personable Rose. Chewy and immense, they're good as the centerpiece of a hearty biscuits-and-gravy dish or on the side, slathered in honey and butter, accompanying one of this cozy cafe's other eye-opening breakfast dishes.

The yolk's on all the other breakfast joints in town too chicken to get real: By making hollandaise to order, 730 South forever won our hearts (even as it clogs our arteries). Every weekend morning, this charming and casual bistro turns out the best eggs Benedict in town: a buttery croissant (rather than the traditional English muffin) split and topped with thin slices of honey-cured ham and poached eggs, then blanketed with lemony, housemade hollandaise. Sided by fresh fruit and washed down with a respectable bloody Mary, it's a great way to start the day.

Sunday through Thursday nights, Jax Fish House features "blue-plate specials" that fit the mood of the day. On Mondays, that means fish 'n' chips; Tuesday is Wash Day, cleaning the kitchen out of shrimp and beans and rice. But Sunday dinner is our favorite meal at Jax, because that day's offering is steak 'n' eggs Benny, a serious version of the breakfast classic that takes tender-on-the-inside, blackened-on-the-outside sirloin steak and blue crabcakes and piles them onto cornbread slices, then tops them with poached eggs and a Creole-style (read: spicy) hollandaise. Now, that's what you call your Sunday best.

Rise and shine at the Chalet, which manages to be too cute and a total dive at the same time. Although the building is shaped like a Swiss cottage, behind its scalloped-edge windows and lacy curtains lurks a quintessential diner, where waitresses who have been there forever know all the regulars' names. The honey-fried chicken is delish -- all crackly sweet crust and greasy meat beneath (don't worry, it's fried in heart-healthy canola) -- and the soups sometimes taste homemade. But the real reason the Chalet is packed from the second it opens at 6 a.m. is the $2.49 breakfast: two eggs your way, a heap of potatoes and three choices of meat, including several strips of well-crisped bacon. Do you want coffee with that, Hon?

There's no better way to waste a Saturday morning than wandering around the Cherry Creek Farmers' Market. Every weekend from May through October, the Bed, Bath & Beyond parking lot becomes a great place to stock up on fresh legumes and fruits harvested by local growers. If you haven't had breakfast, you can fill up on breads and pastries sold at the many food stands and perk up with a power shake or coffee. Don't leave without a bouquet of wildflowers, the perfect reminder of how you've lazed away half the day.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of