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Sidebars: Bakery & café makes Shelbyville court date a bit sweeter

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SidebarsSidebars reviews and rates eateries lawyers may enjoy visiting when working at courthouses throughout Indiana. Fred offers this weeks review of Linnes Bakery & Cafe.

On a beautiful midsummer day, I was joined by my good friend, Barb Gryna, on a trip to Shelbyville. Still recovering from surgery and unable to drive myself, Barb graciously offered to drive me in her brand new, spicy-red Fiat 500. Jenny had depositions back in the office so this trip was just Barb and me. Another good friend of ours, Lynn Pangburn, couldn’t tag along because, well, I kinda forgot to invite her. Next time, Lynn, I might even drive.

On a prior visit to Shelbyville with my wife, Amy, we stopped at Linnes Bakery & Café just off the square to purchase some of Jim Voyles’ favorite brownies as a treat for him. Amy took note that this local bakery landmark also serves lunch, hence the addition of “& Café” to the name. I tucked that thought away, targeting the place for a future review.

My trip with Barb presented the perfect food review opportunity: 1:30 p.m. court. When we entered the door it was as if we stepped back in time about 40 years. The smell and decor of this mom and pop operation reminded me of those days as a kid when my parents actually took me to real bakeries for baked goods, not supermarket chains like today. Granted, bakeries back then didn’t offer lunch options either, but in today’s competitive marketplace, why not offer lunch? The idea is a smart one as it keeps foot traffic and sales moving well into the afternoon.

Resisting the urge to blow off lunch altogether and just dive right into the pastries, we scanned the limited lunch menu. Barb ordered a turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, served on homemade wheat bread. All lunches come with a choice of a side item and she went for a side of chicken salad in an effort to tackle the entire poultry spectrum. I opted for a roast beef and colby-jack sandwich with brown mustard, lettuce and tomato, served on a pretzel roll. Pretzel rolls are the rage these days and this one certainly worked. I opted for chips as my side item. Boring, I know.

Each sandwich was a pleasant surprise, especially since this place is unabashedly a bakery first. The hearty meats were freshly sliced and suitably proportioned in relation to the other ingredients. The wheat bread and pretzel roll were everything you’d expect from a bakery – fresh and flavorful. Barb raved about her chicken salad and prompted me to take a bite. Chicken salad is something I normally wouldn’t order but I liked this.

The best part of our meal was the third side item included with each sandwich. Remember what I said about Jim Voyles? Take it from me, that man knows his brownies and he lists this place as one of his favorite brownie respites. Every lunch comes with a brownie finger, a perfectly sized sweet morsel of goodness that punctuates each meal.

What makes these brownies work is the wonderfully radiant texture and bold chocolate flavor. These brownies stand out because of their sugar-coated bottom. Much like a pizza with corn meal on the bottom crust portion, these brownies are thinly veiled with a finely ground sugar dusting underneath. It really doesn’t over sweeten the already sweet brownie. The sugar simply accents the tremendous brownie flavor, much like salt does in any dish of your choosing.

This is the kind of place that inspires me to write this column. Locally legendary yet widely under-appreciated, its roots date back to 1890 and it has been in Shelbyville since the 1930’s. If you are looking for a large variety of lunch options you will not find it here. If you’re looking for a great bakery with a good sandwich a bit off the ordinary, this is your spot. Oh, and take some brownies back to your office. You’ll be labeled as a hero.•

Linnes Bakery & Café, 115 South Harrison Street, Shelbyville, IN. 317-398-7525. www.linnesbakery.com

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis, focusing on criminal defense. Both enjoy a good meal with colleagues and friends. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.

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