Sweet tooth 

Southern Sweets bakery adds more to the menu

As if you'd like anything more to eat than finely made cakes, incredible pies and the tastiest tarts around, Southern Sweets Bakery now has upped the ante by adding some of the best sandwiches, soups and salads in these parts. The mother/daughter tag team of Nancy Cole and Ashley Nelson has been serving desserts for 10 years to some of Atlanta's leading restaurants, country clubs and hotels (you'll have to sample and compare to figure out where, as they keep their clients a secret). For more than two years, the bakery has been open to the public in an out-of-the-way spot near the DeKalb Farmer's Market. You don't get much elbowroom, but you'll have to forgive them -- this is a working bakery, with just enough space to pick up your cake, pie or sandwich and go.

Cake and pie: It's hard to pass on a slice of the lemon gingerbread layer cake. Or the Key lime pie. Or the cappuccino bar cookies. In fact, it's hard to pass on any of the desserts. They're all made from scratch from Cole's recipes and are temptingly presented within finger's reach in refrigerated display cases. Slices cost $3.50-$4 apiece, which is a steal when you consider the mark-up on the same desserts in eateries around town. Especially impressive are the rustic cherry and apple pies, bursting from their flaky crusts with warm colors and smells.

What we ate: The sandwich selections vary from day to day, as do the soups. You can normally get a cup of the house chili along with sandwiches made on fresh artisan breads from the Bread Garden (which is where the excellent loaves, available on weekends only, come from). The chicken salad sandwich on cracked wheat berry bread was a hearty mix of large chunks of chicken breast meat, diced red pepper and celery topped with lettuce and tomato ($5.75). Try the Italian hoagie, tuna salad or roast beef. And let's just see if you can get out of there without a big chocolate chip cookie to go with your sandwich -- unless, of course, you choose the almond toffee (cookies 95 cents each).

Cole plans on offering bargain boxed lunches soon. They'll include a sandwich, a side of pasta or green salad, and dessert.

Service: Friendly greetings are the norm, and you won't feel any pressure to buy. Employees know that once you step through the door, you can't say no. Often Cole will be there wearing a chef's hat dusted with flour and a motherly smile. Sample the cookies or cakes near the register. Then watch as your slices are tenderly handled, wrapped and sent on their way with you to be enjoyed.

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