Update 3/30/12: Stella's announced that they are closing the restaurant in April.
In a word: Find the goldmine.
Latest Stella's Bakery news and reviews
JM ate the ham and cheese breakfast sandwich with an apple juice.
Nichole ate the sticky bun with a coffee.
We got a loaf of ciabatta.
The bill was $16, or $8/person, plus tip.
JM gave Stella's Bakery an A-; Nichole gave Stella's Bakery an A (see our grading rubric).
Before this visit, we were like every other Madisonian who mostly knows Stella's for the Spicy Cheese Bread. If anything, the delicious but shortening [correction] butter-laden, mozz-and-prov-veined, red-pepper-flaked, as-much-as-the-market-will-bear-priced Saturday morning treat had worn out its welcome with Nichole. In her stint as DCFM volunteer, Nichole never understood why Stella's was exempt from the "no hawking" rule, and JM never really fell under the bread's spell at all.
But it turns out that Spicy Cheese Bread is to Stella's as Colby O'Donis is to Lady Gaga; as Birdhouse in Your Soul is to They Might Be Giants; as Carcassonne is to Rio Grande Games; as Wisconsin Dells is to Wisconsin; as Macaroni & Cheese pizza is to Ian's... which is to say that it is the flashy sign in the window that draws people in and allows the real deal to follow.
The bakery is as different from the market as one could imagine. It's been located in an industrial park since the early noughts, but a dine-in area was added in fall of 2009. The space is bright and open, with two large tables and a counter with four seats overlooking the bakery area. It was a bustling scene and fun to watch - probably a dozen workers were in action in the very clean, efficient kitchen.
The bakery turned out muffins, danish, bread, cinnamon and nut rolls, but, to JM's chagrin, no donuts. While this continues to stick in his craw, he doesn't begrudge Stella's that choice.
There are several lunch sandwiches (they deliver within a three mile radius!) and a basic breakfast sandwich. JM got one with excellent smoked ham, swiss cheese folded into lightly scrambled eggs, all on grilled Spicy Cheese Bread.
We got our ciabatta home and later made sandwiches for lunch. The bread was salty outside, very airy and chewy inside.
And if you still gotta have that SCB, it's worth knowing that at the bakery they'll slice it for you.