Take a sweet bite of summer by visiting friendly spots, serving locals and visitors the best boutique bakeries the area has to offer.
Located in downtown Chaska, Red Bench Bakery is housed in a historic building that operated as a bakery from 1884 until closing in 2009. In 2017, Andy Mooney, chef-owner, opened Red Bench Bakery and reunited this side of the Southwest Metro with fresh baked pastries, breads and artisan sandwiches.
Growing up in Woodbury, his mother made pastries and cakes and waited on tables in the evenings at a local restaurant, “so I would go with her all the time when I was like 8 years old and go bake with her,” he says. At the age of 12, the staff started giving him small tasks. He made his way onto the payroll and worked his way from the pantry to prep to line cook. His high school job was at a coffee shop that made pastries. “I’d be up at 4:30 in the morning to go [make pastries], and then I’d go to school,” he says.
After over 20 years of experience running kitchens and baking in hotels, restaurants, bakeries and local markets around Minnesota and Chicago, Mooney studied at the French Pastry School in Chicago and graduated in 2007. Inspired by French technique and Midwestern hospitality, Mooney opened Red Bench Bakery with a focus on breakfast pastries and artisan bread. “My specialty is what the French call viennoiserie, which is your laminated doughs—your sweet breads, brioche, cinnamon rolls, stuff like that,” he says. But that can be savory, too. “We will also have breakfast sandwiches,” he says, and a signature ham and cheese croissant made with smoked ham and Taleggio cheese inside, topped with Swiss cheese.
For a chef-recommended item, try the chocolate croissant. “It’s my favorite thing in the world. When somebody takes a bite of, say a chocolate croissant, for the first time, seeing their eyes light up—nothing can beat that,” he says.
Red Bench Bakery
500 North Chestnut St., Chaska
Inspired by her grandmother, “who was an amazing baker” and a love for caramel rolls, Linnea Boyd opened Ruby’s Roost Bakery in 2015. First opening in Mayer, the bakery enjoyed such a booming business that the family decided to expand. “The shop and the kitchen were getting too small,” Boyd says. “We also wanted to go to a town that had a larger small business community.” These considerations eventually led to relocating the business to Victoria. Despite the change, Boyd says it is comforting to see that the same group of cycling customers visit every Saturday due to the shop’s close proximity to the bike trails.
In addition to her grandmother and caramel rolls, another reason behind Ruby’s Roost is family. Boyd wants her children to “learn the whole thing along [with us] ... and hopefully, become entrepreneurs, as well, in the future,” she says. The commitment to organic ingredients also grew out of the long-running family tradition. “Ever since my husband and I married 17 years ago, we grew more and more organic. I had grown up that way a bit,” Boyd says. “And 10 years ago, we started eating all organic at home.”
Over the years, the caramel rolls remain Ruby’s Roost’s most popular item. The scone is another must-try. “I added all the things I love in it—dark chocolate, white chocolate, coconut, oatmeal and cinnamon glaze,” she says. As for the name, Ruby is one of the five hens in Boyd’s family backyard, and Roost suggests a place to hang out. “We think Ruby is a great symbol for an organic, self-sustaining, loving bakery,” Boyd says.
Ruby’s Roost Bakery
7924 Victoria Drive, Ste. 101, Victoria
Known for the quality and excellence of her baking, both in presentation and taste, owner of Paragon Bakery, Tanis Hesser, has been teaching herself to bake since she was 10 years old. “At an early age, I was fascinated by baking. My mom was not a baker, so all my experience came through trial and error. I have always loved the challenge of making something I’ve never made before and then perfecting it. I love reading and doing research on not just the art of baking, but also the science of baking, and I strive to get the best possible recipe for my products.”
Over the years, Hesser and her husband, Ben, talked and dreamed of opening their own bakery, where they could provide the community a place where people can find really delicious baked goods made with quality ingredients. By opening her own bakery, Hesser can showcase her scratch recipes and bring back that almost-forgotten, long-missed treat of bread, rolls or desserts that are made and baked fresh in the local bake shop.
Behold the daily-made cinnamon rolls, dolloped with cream cheese icing or the “best in town” giant chocolate chip cookies. Other crowd pleasers include chocolate chip cheesecake balls and a variety of scones and muffins, all baked fresh daily. Take note: Gluten free options are also available.
530 West 79th St., Chanhassen