I crossed state lines for a croissant. Ventured all the way to Council Bluffs, in fact, for some eats and treats at the Mad Ox Bakery.
Husband and wife team Mathew and Karris Mattox opened their dream bakery in September, inspired by Mathew's late father, who encouraged the professional bakers to take the independent plunge. The bakery donates the profits from each turtle candy sold to cancer research as a means to commemorate him. So order up. The turtles are delicious. They make their own caramel, people.
Karris Mattox explained that the couple aims to provide a variety of gourmet baked goods in a place where people can relax and enjoy each other, maybe even grab a board game from the Mattoxes' personal collection. They brought in the games because they weren't getting any play action at home, considering the pair's long bakery hours.
“I love to see parents sit and play a game with their kids and have some good food,” said Karris Mattox. “That's the kind of thing we wanted.”
The sweet-smelling Ox deals in a nice range of bakery favorites. Cakes alone are available in sculpted, tiered, sheet and cup varieties. You can also get your greedy little hands on candies, donuts, dessert bars, breads and stuffed croissants — both sweet and savory.
Consumable options also include a sandwich special of the day Monday through Friday, served with chips for $4.99. Egg salad on Mondays, y'all.
Friday's pulled pork sandwich lunch special was tender and tasty and served on your choice of house-made bread. Besides the sandwich special, the other savory choice is one of their stuffed croissants, which comes with meat, cheese, egg or veggie fillings packed in a rectangular-ish croissant. And when the cheese gets a little brown and crispy around the edges, that's a very good thing.
Our coconut cake doughnut was as moist as you could want, and the cinnamon roll fit for sharing was loaded with delicious pecans.
The pumpkin spice bar was just right for the season and a leading favorite in the bar category, not that we had any problem gobbling up the scotcharoo bar — a peanut butter-butterscotch mash-up.
The Ox serves bottomless coffee you can spruce up at their flavored syrups bar, but other than that, drink choices were slim. They had some milk and some canned sodas. I know smoothies, juices and specialty coffees aren't baked goods, but they sure pair well with them.
The ketchup and mustard colored Ox walls house about a dozen tables, inlaid with sparkling coins and bottle caps. Framed superhero posters deck the walls. The place is squeaky clean, and staff tidied up consistently throughout our time there.
The bakeshop is the centerpiece of the place, so you can watch 'em go to town with their giant mixer and decorating stations. The environment encourages you to kick back and relax for a while, so say the little signs posted at each table assuring you there is no rush, and not to worry about your dishes — the staff will take care of them.
And, of course, bakery smells abound and follow you home as a reminder of the treats you enjoyed. Sure, the Ox may be Mad, but he's sweet to the core.
* * * * *
MAD OX BAKERY
215 W. Broadway, Council Bluffs | 712-309-8695 | MadOxBakery.com
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Hit: Blueberry stuffed croissant, stuffed just enough to get fruit throughout without any bread-sog.
Miss: Needs more beverage offerings; a smoothie or a latte, or even bottled juice, would have gone down nicely.
Reservations: None needed.
Price: Very reasonable. Didn't see anything that cost more than $5.
Service: Friendly and helpful. Noise level: Comfortable.