Best Bakery

BitterSweet Bakery

At first blush the cakes in the case at the BitterSweet Bakery appear to be stand-ins. Their undulating layers of frosting seem too perfect to have been rendered by hand. The ribbons of solid dark chocolate, piled ever so precariously, must surely be glued together. And those single-bloom flowers! My, oh, my. They couldn't possibly be fresh — could they? Yes, oh, yes. It's all fresh at this stark-white, loftlike Benton Park café: The ingredients, of course, and also the aesthetic that owner/pastry chef Leanna Russo brings to her mission of tickling the taste buds. Try not to enjoy the headiness of her lavender sugar cookies. Or the crunch of her toffee, cut into triangles. Try to say no thanks to her roasted-banana bread, with its swirl of caramel and sprinkling of sea salt. It can be daunting to decide among Russo's artful creations, but bittersweet? Nah. Any one of them will transform a sour state of mind into sweet reverie.

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