Even if you haven’t set foot inside Loaf Lounge, it’s likely you’ve drooled over the chocolate cake that co-owner Sarah Mispagel-Lustbader created during her gig as a consulting pastry chef for FX’s Chicago restaurant-set show, The Bear. The three-layer beauty, made on TV by baker Marcus (Lionel Boyce), threatened to steal the show’s first season (as did the impressive doughnuts, also made by Mispagel-Lustbader). If you didn’t watch The Bear, perhaps you feasted your eyes on the cake when it blew up Instagram.
“I feel like my whole life is chocolate cake,” Mispagel-Lustbader jokes, noting that the shop sells roughly 400 slices weekly, along with special-ordered whole cakes. For good reason. In addition to its gleaming ganache exterior, it packs a complex flavor that commingles sweetness with deep, dark Valrhona bitterness.
You’ll find it by the slice at the shop that the former Sepia pastry chef opened with her husband, chef Ben Lustbader (Giant), in September. The laid-back café is far from a one-trick pony, though. You can also score English muffin breakfast sandwiches, a BLT on jalapeño-cheddar bread, and freshly baked loaves of marbled rye.
In the pastry case, you’ll find treats like a tender chocolate crinkle cookie — Lustbader’s favorite — that enlists super-dark cocoa powder and espresso and an unassuming oatmeal cream pie that features vanilla buttercream stuffed between chewy cookies bursting with cinnamon and housemade toffee. They may not be as camera-ready as That Cake, but they’re every bit as tasty. 2934 N. Milwaukee Ave., Avondale