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G'day indeed 

You can label your 'hood "up and coming" as much as you'd like, but it doesn't qualify as an emerging area until it's got particular things going for it. And we're not just talking about a lack of cars up on blocks. You've got to have certain establishments within walking distance. A water-ing hole tops the list, followed by a burrito or pizza joint. Add a coffee shop and an Ace Hardware and you've entered gentrification city.

Yet you know your neighborhood's been all but yuppified when a young, posh restaurant stakes its claim and stays, and when a bakery cafe crops up. In East Atlanta's case, the sweets shop in question is the cheery Australian Bakery Cafe. In typical EAV style, it's not your run-of-the-mill sandwiches and cookies sort of place.

Dundee yummy: A large photo of Sydney Harbor dominates the wall opposite a large bakery case filled with bar cookies and cake slices of generous proportions. Stacks of meat pies and quiches share elbowroom with the pastries. Shelves lined with Australian products, such as Bundaberg Ginger Beer, Vegemite, and Cadbury Flake bar (the world's strangest chocolate) are positioned behind the bakery counter. Meat pies and pastries dominate the selection of savory items, which also include veggie and deli-style offerings. The Dundee Ham Sandwich ($4.95), with a squishy cheddar bacon roll as its vehicle for thinly sliced smoked ham, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo and spicy mustard, is outstanding.

Pie in the sky with diamonds: Forget that wedge with a fluted edge that comes to mind with the word "pie." Australian Bakery Cafe's pies are weighty squares that have more in common with paving stones in terms of density and shape. Beneath their sturdy exteriors, however, lies a gravy river overflowing with meat and veggies. A crust that seems impervious to sharp little teeth is flaky and crumbly, exactly as you'd hoped. The steak and mushroom pie ($2.95) is dank with beefy gravy and thick with flecks of sirloin and sliced mushrooms. The curry lamb pie ($3.15) is an immense puff pastry turnover stuffed to the brim with lamb curry chunky with potatoes, peas, carrots and corn. The egg, onion and bacon quiche ($2.85) comes in the same charming block form as the pies, but is less thrilling with its bland, sproingy interior.

I'll take another, mate: Although the pastries are far from delicate and were most definitely not made with a dainty hand, they're as hard to pass up as bake sale brownies. Taking the form of giant blocks, the baked goods seem made for farmers, hikers and loggers, with a heft that suggests they could sustain you for weeks. Reminiscent of Brach's Neapolitan Coconut candies, the Cherry Ripe Slice ($1.99) is an impressive slab of crumbly shortbread with a maraschino syrup-soaked coconut layer and thick chocolate top. It's surprisingly not too sweet and proves a comforting, gnaw-a-little-now-nibble-some-later treat. Anzac cookies (75 cents each) are flat, sandy disks rich with butter, oatmeal and coconut. Both crunchy and chewy, their simplicity and sturdiness are hard not to like. Much like the charming neighborhood bakery cafe itself.

cynthia.wong@creativeloafing.com

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