Transport yourself into a charming European café in the heart of sunny Carmel Valley Village. Baum & Blume and The Carriage House offer not one, not two but five things in one warm German-esque atmosphere. The Wenzler family affair includes a cozy café, Biergarten, catering company, gourmet take-out and boutique all in one!
Needing a dose of Oktoberfest I headed to the quaint café and shop tucked up El Caminito Road just across from Bernardus Winery's tasting room. The modest storefront resembles a humble home which is suiting since you feel like family once you enter.
As soon as I pulled up I was immediately greeted with a warm welcome by owners (and siblings) Derek, Deborah and Diane. It's truly a family run business as Deborah was manning the café, Derek was hard at work in the open-aired kitchen and Diane was tidying up the boutique gift shop, aka The Carriage House.
Before Deborah could give me the low-down on the day's specials Derek invited me into the kitchen for a sneak peek into their famous fruitcakes. Now these are not your stereotypical fruitcakes that you mass order from your grandma's catalogs. These specialty holiday cakes are treated with tender loving care; the trio even travels to the Central Valley to pick up fresh raisins and other fruits for the ingredients. The entire process takes several weeks and makes for a wonderful Christmas gift!
After my stint in Derek's kitchen I was seated in the sundrenched patio which also transforms into a German Biergarten Thursday through Saturday from 3pm-7pm with all sorts of food specials and beers, of course.
The menu was full of fall findings like a Harvest Vegetable Shepherd's Pie and an Oktoberfest Special with grilled bratwurst and red cabbage. I finally opted for the Autumn Salad while my buddy ordered the Pecan-Crusted Chicken.
Little did we know, Derek prepared an amuse-bouche before our main courses. The tasty hors d'œuvres were made of bite-sized slices of pumpernickel toast, slathered with a chunky apricot chutney and topped with smoked salmon. The fruity chutney had a kick of ginger which went well with the mildly smoky flavor of the fish.
Soon after, my salad arrived which looked like it had just been picked straight from the garden. A mound of butter lettuce was carefully topped with sweet apple slices, shaved fennel, picked shallots, rye croutons and toasted walnuts. I was particularly pleased that it was very lightly dressed in walnut oil vinaigrette, not taking away from the natural flavors of the ingredients.
The pecan-crusted chicken smelled delightful ! Juicy chicken slices were topped with a rich and creamy Dijon-sour cream reduction sauce with a side of garlic-roasted carrots. I could not believe this gourmet dish was only $11.95!
Not wanting to leave I popped over to The Carriage House to scope out some of their always changing boutique items. I particularly love their assortment of craft jewelry and card offerings.
Doing anything November 8th or 9th? Head to Baum & Blume's Open House where Christmas comes early! Shop for curated gifts and decor in The Carriage House Boutique while enjoying hosted wine tastings from California vintners, hors d'oeuvres from the kitchen, chef demos, craft demos and more.
Baum & Blume and the Carriage house is open for lunch, dinner and take out Wednesday through Saturday from 12pm-7pm.