Cookie jars are awfully tempting. Now imagine walking into an entire cookie bar. That’s exactly what you’ll find on a pretty, tree-lined street in Ravenswood. The next time you need a dessert fix, head to The Cookie Bar, a tiny counter-service joint with big warmth and charm. While technically it’s not an actual, sit-down bar (you have to grab your treats to go), there are plenty of goodies tap, ranging from cookies to brownies to cake served whole or by the slice. The kicker: Everything is gluten free.
Owners Joe Bova and Jeff Steinberg have had the business since 2010. Originally, it was located in Lincoln Park and also served non-gluten-free treats. Because of the demand for wheat-less desserts and the owners’ love of specialty ingredients, they moved The Cookie Bar to Ravenswood this summer and revamped the menu. You can see the pair baking in the open kitchen, where they use all-natural ingredients such as organic coconut oil and GMO-free chocolate from Belgium.
Everything is prepared fresh daily. Menu items include old-fashioned favorites like peanut butter cookies and cinnamon sugar donuts, along with inventive newbies like chili-mango macadamia cookies, cookie “sandwiches” filled with vanilla buttercream and chocolate-dipped ginger shortbreads. When you want to give the entire family a sweet treat, go for the Mississippi mud cake or coconut cake with lime-buttercream frosting. There are also breads and rolls (try the Zaatar rolls, which have a Middle Eastern spice made from thyme, lemon and sesame). Cookies cost around $2/each, brownies are around $2.75/each and cakes are $35-$55.
If you want a custom birthday cake, they can whip one up. Because of their dedication to not using artificial coloring, cakes are topped with colorful candles, instead of food-dye decoration. Also note you won’t find cupcakes at The Cookie Bar. (There are already enough cupcake joints around town, says Joe.)
In a former life, Joe was an animator for the Cartoon Network and Jeff was a movie screenwriter. Both lived in L.A. and started baking in their downtime. Friends asked them to bring their homemade treats to parties and before Joe and Jeff knew it, they had a full-blown sideline business. Now at home in Chicago, they are happy to share their zest for gluten-free baking with kids and grownups alike.
Talk about raising the bar.
The Cookie Bar
1746 W. Wilson Ave.
Open Thurs.-Sat., 12:00 pm-5:00 pm (other times by appointment only)
Does your family eat gluten-free treats? Would you go here? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Aiglon
Photos: Courtesy of The Cookie Bar and Kelly Aiglon