People go wild over Baker’s Kitchen’s Butter Syrup, but there is so much more.
It’s hard to imagine how in the world a family business that started with sheet metal in the early 20th Century would get into the restaurant business—much less be so good at it. But here they are.
The Bengel family was into several things: sheet metal for more than a century, a travel agency, New Bern’s Pepsi Store—even a Collegiate Summer League baseball team (the Morehead City Marlins).
They jumped into the restaurant business in 2012, taking over then-called Baker’s Square on Middle Street and rebranding it Baker’s Kitchen.
(They also own Beer Army around the corner on Pollock Street, but that’s another story for another time.)
The Bengels tweaked Baker’s Kitchen’s menu and shifted from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to breakfast and lunch—served seven days a week except Christmas Day.
They also serve take-out pre-made reheat-able family meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Baker’s Kitchen today is a mainstay for Historic Downtown New Bern. During non-COVID-19 times, the line is often—OK, usually—out the door for people craving a simple or full breakfast, or a good Southern lunch.
Baker’s Kitchen Snapshots
Known for a friendly setting and well-made comfort food, Baker’s Kitchen is divided into three parts: the bake shop on the right, restaurant dining on the left, and a spacious meeting area upstairs simply called “the room upstairs.”
And for now, there’s a fourth component, but more on that in a moment.
No detail is overlooked at Baker’s Kitchen. A well-trained wait staff is dressed uniformly and provides friendly, fast, professional service.
They food will fill you up and leave you satisfied without emptying your wallet.
Breakfast ranges from their own home-made Cinnamon Rolls (the restaurant makes all its baked goods on-premises), to simple bacon-and-eggs options, Chick & Waffles, omelettes, and breakfast sandwiches.
But it’s their French Toast and Butter Syrup that defy superlatives. They are so good, you can buy a French Toast Kit to go, and Butter Syrup has its own web site where you can order it online. https://www.buttersyrup.com/
Lunch is equally comfortable, with Southern staples including Baker’s Hamburger Steak, Country Fried Chicken Lunch, Shrimp Basket, and more.
Lunch sides include Fried Okra, Squash Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Dutch Potatoes.
And don’t forget a slice of their own homemade Key Lime Pie.
Which brings us to that other thing, that “fourth component” mentioned earlier in this story.
Something for dinner
Baker’s Kitchen actually does serve dinner now, outside on Middle Street on Friday and Saturday nights.
That menu is a fusion of Italian and Southern cooking.
Starters, called “Something to Start,” include Fried Green Tomato Caprese, Prosciutto and Melon, and Tomato-Basil Bruschetta.
Entrees, called “More than a Little Something,” include Tuscan Lasagna, Shrimp and Grits, and Short Ribs and Grits.
And of course French Toast is on the menu, this time a Bananas Foster French Toast version made from Baker’s Kitchen’s own Tuscan bread.
“A lot of people talk about Baker’s Kitchen,” said restaurant Manager Buddy Bengel, a fourth-generation member of the Bengel family businesses.
“We want to be the best restaurant in New Bern,” he said. “We want to be the best restaurant in North Carolina.”
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