Wild Love Bakehouse, or Where to Eat in Knoxville, TN

Gracie might be watching her girlish figure, but I. Need. Pastry.
Gracie might be watching her girlish figure, but I. Need. Pastry.

It’s nearly 7 am and my husband and I are scrambling around getting ready.  I am putting the finishing touches on my makeup, he is trying to coax Gracie, our husky, to eat her food quickly, so that she can be walked before we leave.  Gracie is stubborn, and has never been too interested in food (I swear she is the reincarnation of some sort of early Hollywood Grand Dame), so this can be a daily ordeal.  This morning, though, we are in a hurry.  Because we want to get to the bakery in time to have first pick of the goodies.  Which is becoming a regular thing for us, and I MIGHT have a bit of an addiction problem.

Prior to the recent opening of Wild Love Bakehouse, though, my husband and I felt a bit starved for coffee shops.  When we first moved to Knoxville we lived in what I call the Wasteland of the West, aka, west Knoxville.  We were surrounded by chain restaurants and box stores, and couldn’t safely walk anywhere.  The closest “coffee shop” was Starbucks. Cue whining. Last year we moved to North Knoxville, though, and were at least close enough to a bus route that my husband could commute to and from campus on his own.  He doesn’t drive – but thats another story for another day.  And suddenly, in the last year, a number of new places have opened that have been helping assuage our we-don’t-live-in-New-Orleans-or-London-anymore sadness.

I'll take one of everything please.
I’ll take one of everything please.

There are coffee shops in the downtown area, however, they were typically packed and required a trip downtown.  I like going downtown, but it IS a trip from our house, and the whole point of your neighborhood coffee shop is that it is close.  So when Wild Love opened last November, we were thrilled, before we even saw the place.  It is, in fact, run by the proprietors of one of the downtown coffee shops, Old City Java.

So. Much. Pretty.
A rainy Sunday morning view of what is usually a sunny and bright patio.
A rainy Sunday morning view of what is usually a sunny and bright patio.

We went early on its first morning, and let me tell you, it was love at first sight, and heaven at first bite.  Inside it is full of light, with light wood tables, elegant picture windows, and a glass wall into the bakery portion of the shop where you can watch all of the tasty things being made.  It has a large selection of outdoor tables, and people frequently bring dogs with them to enjoy the outside area.  It has a distinctly northern European feel.  Its design is functional though – while there are several new coffee shops open in Knoxville now, Wild Love is far and away our favorite space to WORK.  Two long counter provide multiple outlets, and several long tables provide many work stations.

Window to the baking world.
Window to the baking world.

Its not just a place for students, writers, and their ilk though.  Strollers and toddlers can frequently be seen throughout the day.  Do I mention this just because I find it reassuring? As we have a baby on the way and I’m the kind of writer who tends to only be productive in a coffee shop? Maybe, she says, blushing, but I also think it is a testament to how much Knoxville NEEDED this kind of space for people of all ages. It is one of the major things I have been missing in Knoxville, and it is now practically in my backyard.

Strawberry Almond Frangipane Croissant. AH-MAZING. #noiwillnotshare #selfishpregnantlady
Strawberry Almond Frangipane Croissant. AH-MAZING. #noiwillnotshare #selfishpregnantlady

It is also simply delicious.  I swear, this Strawberry Almond Frangipane Croissant is one of the best I’ve ever had, including in my travels through France.  Check out the layers of dough in your croissant.  It’s looks properly laminated enough to even impress the judges of the Great British Bake Off right?  That’s right, fan girl here, and I AM NOT ASHAMED.

The quiche is velvety soft, and their savory scone du jour, the Green Onion, Feta, and Creme Fraiche is nearly irresistible.  They also serve a small selection of sandwiches, salads, and soup at lunch.  Ingredients are seasonal, locally and ethically sourced (check out this Instagram photo of the bakers picking their own strawberries), and they always seem to have a great vegetarian option.  Everything is made from scratch, and in small batches, which is why my husky needs to eat her food quickly!  Because I want to get there before they run out of insert-delicious-dish here.

Hot black loose leaf tea with a wee delectable shortbread cookie on Valentine's Day.
Hot black loose leaf tea with a wee delectable shortbread cookie on Valentine’s Day.
This is a sea salt ricotta and strawberry jam biscuit. YUM.
This is a sea salt ricotta and strawberry jam biscuit. YUM.

Their coffee is also impressive, single origin, and they have the best iced coffee/cold brew in town I think.  My husband loves their pour over, and I am fond of their lattes and cappuccino as well.  They serve Counter Culture coffee, and they care about each cup.  I once thought mine tasted off, and they quickly replaced it.  They also serve a good selection of hot teas, and their Rose Lemonade is so popular they have a hard time keeping it in stock.

In short, it seems this place was dreamed up with me in mind – and its mine!  All mine!  I’m kidding, of course, I am happy that the place is such a success, and hope their success continues.  And I will continue to get there as close to opening as possible, because that strawberry croissant!  And the Black Sesame and Sea Salt Bagel.  And the strawberry, rhubarb, and rose water hand tart.  And…  You get the picture.  And the next time you’re in Knoxville, you should get the real thing.

Wild Love Bakehouse.  Seriously.  You won’t be disappointed.

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