Inspired by a children’s storybook, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, Mrs. Henry B. Joy, a grande dame of the ’20s and ’30s and the wife of the president of the Packard Motor Company, is reputed to have called an area of Grosse Pointe “the cabbage patch.” The designation stuck for years.
Pam Dziedzic thought it would make a good name for her little Grosse Pointe Park café. And so in June when she took over the space that had previously housed a bakery known for its scones, she promptly changed the name to Cabbage Patch Café. Scones are still being made in the open kitchen behind the counter, and the baker is the same as well. Brian Rentschler produces an array of them every day to munch with Great Lakes coffee and espresso. He’s added many more confections, including a double-chocolate cherry cookie, which has red wine as one of the ingredients, and one he calls “the Elvis” — made with peanut butter, candied bacon, and chocolate chips. Let’s just say chocolate has a very large role in Rentschler’s baking.
Prior to finding the spot in Grosse Pointe Park, Dziedzic had been a caterer for 14 years, as Classic Catering, always strictly by word of mouth and with preparation done in borrowed commercial kitchens. Now she and chef Brittany Swineford, fresh from a stint in Chicago restaurants, along with baker Rentschler, have an airy kitchen of their own. In addition to the impressive array of desserts, they produce breakfast quiches and omelets, lunchtime soups, sandwiches, and salads, and are soon expanding to add more dining space.
As popular as the scones and other sweets are, the real claim to fame for Dziedzic and her staff are hot dinners-to-go, a Wednesday special that is being extended to Tuesday through Thursday. Those who stop by on their way home from work don’t even have to heat up the complete dinners that include chicken piccata, meatloaf, and chicken teriyaki. Dziedzic also offers casseroles with an emphasis on comfort food.
All of this may make it seem that the Cabbage Patch Café could be a flowery, froufrou kind of place. Not at all. It’s contemporary and, in the proprietor’s view, “has a Chicago feel.” The list of coffee drinks and the menu are chalked on sleek blackboards, and the patterned wallpaper from the previous regime has been replaced with a cool beige and black color scheme. Even the crystal chandelier overhead has a modern touch with the addition of a metal mesh frame that takes away from its vintage feeling.
There are a few round tables for those who want to stay rather than carry out, and as the weather warms up, the sidewalk patio will add to the dimensions.
Just don’t ask for Mrs. Wiggs.