Whether we're rushing in for an early-morning muffin, meeting a friend for tea and scones, or picking up a sturdy loaf of bread for dinner, there's something ineffably satisfying about visiting a neighborhood bakery. Thus, the envy we feel toward our East Side neighbors since the recent arrival of The Stone Oven bakery and café in Woodmere (at Eton-Chagrin Boulevard, 216-831-3630), and Zoss the Swiss Baker's patisserie and café in nearby Pepper Pike's Landerhaven Plaza (30779 Pinetree Road, 216-831-3533).
The Stone Oven's Woodmere location is the third for owners Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman; their first, on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, opened in 1995, and the second, in downtown's Galleria, launched in 1999. (The Cleveland Heights store, incidentally, will be moving a few doors down Lee Road later this year to more commodious digs.) Similarly, the Pepper Pike bakery is the second operation for Zoss the Swiss Baker owners Kurt & Barbara Zoss; the original outpost remains open at 12397 Cedar Road.
Inside the new Stone Oven, the vibe is cool and contemporary, with plenty of wide tables, just right for spreading out the morning paper. Outside, a grouping of umbrella-shaded seating makes the perfect spot for summery sidewalk snacking. On the menu, visitors will find everything from steel-cut oatmeal to tarragon-chicken sandwiches and from homemade soup to lemon-sour-cream scones. For a mid-morning pick-me-up, we're partial to the flaky almond croissants, filled with almond paste and sprinkled with powdered sugar; to take home, the crusty Italian-style pugliese bread is hard to beat. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Just down the road, the new Zoss patisserie is cozy, comfortable, and relaxing, with stone floors, buttery-yellow and peach walls, and cool jazz playing in the background. To foster the Euro-café sensibility, the Swiss-trained Zoss serves Illy espresso exclusively at his sleek little espresso bar. The shop also features Fair Trade Certified organic coffee, roasted locally by Crooked River Coffee Company.
As for the edibles, don't miss the delicate pastry palmiers, the soft Asiago pretzels; or the confection-like nusstorte -- a buttery crust filled with a dense, nougaty blend of honey, walnuts, and cream. Bagels, artichoke-and-parmesan-topped focaccia, and Jewish rye are just a few of the freshly baked bread options. In the coming months, look for salads to be added to the menu, too. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.