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Friday, December 24, 2010

Red Bandana: Indulge Your Miles at the Brickhouse Bakery and Cafe

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Tubby Santa Claus Should Workout

Let's say you have been good boys and girls regarding working out. Santa will be pleased. He's keeping a list on all of that, you know. Ever-diligent, the old boy is checking it twice. You know how it goes.

The end of the year is here. If you weigh 140 lbs, and have run, say, 20 miles a week, the tally for 2010 will be somewhere in the 100,000 range for calories. More, to be exact. It is closer to 110,000, but who's counting? Besides me, that is?

It is time to snack. You aren't working out so you can eat granola for every meal, are you? No way! Give me sugar, fat, and other unmentionables. I want cake.

Good cake can be found, tucked away in Pickwick Place. Area residents will know it as the strip mall with Binny's and Trader Joes on Roosevelt Rd. in Glen Ellyn.

What's there? Cupcakes. Mini, medium and jumbo ($0.50 to $2.95). What kind? Red Velvet. What's that? Imagine chocolate cake, only better. Just as the nation is going nuts for cupcakes, so are the western suburbs. You see the picture. It really looks like that.

Besides cupcakes, other pastries and goodies can be found, including Chocolatey Buttery Gooey Cake, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake, and the every-so-indulgent Turtle Brownie. Their bragging rights, though, might come from their own creation, the Brick and Mortar. Although gluten-free, this flourless cake has three kinds of chocolate, with Grand Marnier, and is finished with ice cream and raspberry sauce.

The cafe is in full-gear with a complete menu: a vegetarian sandwiches, salads, soups and more. However, they had me at cake.

"Could you wait until after 2:00 p.m., after the lunch rush?" Peggy asked when I wanted to visit. I came by at 2:15, and sat for a few minutes with her husband Mike. The place was still packed. Peggy was busy meeting customers, taking orders. Mike himself needed to hug a few people as they left.

"Guests are like family," Mike said, admitting it sounded hokey, but clearly, at the Brickhouse, this is true. He greeted everyone who came in, and almost all of them by name.

The cafe a mix of French bistro, neighborhood bakery and local coffee klatch. Everything about the place was genuine, from the warm smiles to the cream used in recipes.

While I waited at the counter, a woman came in to pick an apple pie she ordered. "Not over-sweet and syrupy like other apple pies," she asserted. With Granny Smith apples inside, and a brown sugar and cinnamon crumb topping, I am not surprised that the customer skipped the grocery stores. Other classic pies fill out their repertoire, which more than adequately provides area families holiday pies they used to buy at Bakers Square.

Mike and Peggy Wright opened the Brickhouse two and a half years ago after they both spent years in the restaurant industry. Mike, a young, but retired Sr. VP of Operations at Red Lobster helped Peggy open her dream cafe-bakery. Her own resume, packed with an MBA and experience as a GM at Olive Garden, is more than impressive.

They commute an hour each way from Oswego. A car brings them to Glen Ellyn, but passion for good food is what drives them.

Occasionally, they host events and provide a special menu. Recently, the Philanthropic Educational Organization had a party there. They cater as well. Soon, they hope to provide area restaurants and specialty grocers with their bakery items.

Let this place be your motivation this week. Run a good week's worth of miles, think about a tasty sandwich and soup, and the delicious dessert which will follow.

(Don't forget, be sure to leave Santa a few mini Red Velvets.)

Brickhouse Bakery and Cafe
654 Roosevelt Rd.
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

"Step in Time" Dick Van Dyke, from the Mary Poppins Soundtrack
Tune up the wayback machine for this one. In 1964, Dick Van Dyke as Bert the Chimney Sweep, sang this song in an awful faux-Cockney accent. As a longer song (8:43) with varied tempos, it is good for a third or fourth song on the playlist. In the film, he and other sweeps run and dance across the rooftops. I recommend sticking closer to the ground.

"Step in time, step in time
Come on, mateys, step in time
Step in time
Step in time, step in time
Step in time, step in time
Never need a reason,
Never need a rhyme
Step in time, you step in time!"

Freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I looks to running as I battles midlife and my mid-section. Find out more:  
Author's running blog:

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running
Running Playlist Song of the Week

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