Atlanta Orders In: Garnet Gal’s is a hit for healthful baked goods

Garnet Gal's offers a variety of organic baked sweet treats using house-milled flour.
Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Garnet Gal's offers a variety of organic baked sweet treats using house-milled flour. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Garnet Gal’s Coffee Shop & Bakery in Buckhead prides itself on its health-minded baked goods. It’s also a place where healthful translates to tasty.

“I found that a lot of people, once they come in, they come back,” owner Pat Azogu said.

Oh, I’ll be back, alright. I’ll stand in front of that bakery case and point my finger to the blueberry lavender muffins, whose moist insides are stained Cookie Monster purple, and the mixed berry scones made with matcha flour, too. I’ll salivate as I wait for the barista to heat up the savory stuff: flaky hand pies packed with curry-laced vegetables and chicken, and bombs — bready, dome-shaped breakfast handhelds, filled with scrambled eggs, melted cheddar, chicken sausage or vegetables, that really are da bomb.

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This chicken sausage bomb is from Garnet Gal's Coffee Shop & Bakery. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
This chicken sausage bomb is from Garnet Gal's Coffee Shop & Bakery. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Azogu is a hobbyist baker turned pro. She opened her shop in the space vacated by Mae’s Bakery last April, the culmination of a life-changing journey that began four years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“That diagnosis made me rethink everything,” Azogu said. “I was in a job that had a lot of stress. It paid well, but I wasn’t happy. I changed the way I was eating, became more physically active. I’ve always loved food, been baking over 30 years. I decided, if I made it to the other side, I was going to do something that made me happy, but where I could help others.”

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Pat Azogu is owner of Garnet Gal's Coffee Shop & Bakery, which focuses on organic, health-minded sweet and savory breakfast and lunch items. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Pat Azogu is owner of Garnet Gal's Coffee Shop & Bakery, which focuses on organic, health-minded sweet and savory breakfast and lunch items. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

The food-as-medicine philosophy that Azogu adopted during her fight with cancer — “If you are eating the right foods, it can really change your health trajectory” — guides the food prepared at Garnet Gal’s.

Ingredients are organic, when possible. Baked goods are notably fresh. A key reason why: Flour is milled in-house from grains that include soft white, hard white and hard red wheat, rye, spelt and corn. There’s also an Ezekiel blend of grains and beans used for bread, and even snickerdoodles, that has a slightly earthy character and grainy texture.

Garnet Gal's offers a variety of sandwiches, including vegan options like the Chickpea Sunflower Seed, served on your choice of bread (pictured  is sun-dried tomato foccacia) with a side of sweet potato chips. 
Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Garnet Gal's offers a variety of sandwiches, including vegan options like the Chickpea Sunflower Seed, served on your choice of bread (pictured is sun-dried tomato foccacia) with a side of sweet potato chips. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Cinnamon rolls aside, the selection of sweet morning treats I sampled weren’t sugary indulgences; they tasted wholesome. Garnet Gal’s doesn’t do cupcakes topped with inch-thick buttercream frosting; it does mini loaves of vegan chocolate chip banana bread, blueberry coconut oat bars and chai-spice coffee cake to pair with tea or coffee (beans are from Counter Culture, Peach Coffee Roasters in Johns Creek and Batdorf & Bronson).

But, it’s the savory stuff that makes me want to return the most. The vegan chickpea sunflower seed sandwich, on house-made focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes and black olives, was as satisfying and flavor-filled as any chunky chicken salad sandwich.

Roasted red pepper multi-grain is new to the loaf lineup. I want to try turkey and Swiss between a couple of slices, as well as the tuna melt, maybe with millet bread; the meat lover’s quiche; and another bomb, this time vegetarian.

Despite the delicious fare, Garnet Gal’s has struggled in its first year. Weekday traffic is slow, with many people working remotely, and catering orders are fewer than hoped for.

“Opening during the pandemic was not a deliberate choice,” said Azogu, who settled on the location in October, 2019. “There are all sorts of delays when you are trying to open.”

Because Garnet Gal’s unlocked its doors after February, 2020, it did not qualify for federal aid last year. The current financial situation has Azogu concerned enough that she launched a GoFundMe campaign, but the fundraiser hasn’t taken off.

“We’ve just been managing as best we can to get people in the door,” she said.

Garnet Gal's Coffee Shop & Bakery opened last year in the Lenox Village shopping center in Buckhead. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Garnet Gal's Coffee Shop & Bakery opened last year in the Lenox Village shopping center in Buckhead. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

GARNET GAL’S COFFEE SHOP & BAKERY

Menu: heath-minded baked goods, sandwiches and other cafe items

Alcohol: no

What I ordered: blueberry lavender muffin, snickerdoodle cookie, matcha mixed berry scone, original cinnamon roll, chicken sausage bomb, vegan chickpea sunflower seed sandwich, vegetable hand pie. Everything tasted fresh, from-scratch and wholesome. The muffin and scone were terrific morning treats — with less sugar than some counterparts. I’m partial to the savory items — the filling bomb and the sunflower seed sandwich, in particular.

Price range: baked goods, $2.25-$6; lunch, $4.95-8.95

Service options: dine-in or carryout; delivery via Grubhub; order online, in person or via phone; curbside available

Outdoor dining: limited patio seating

Mask policy: required for all employees, and for customers when not eating

Address, phone: 2770 Lenox Road NE, Atlanta; 404-748-4027

Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays

Website: garnetgalscoffeeshop.com

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