Sweet Dreams brings sweet and savory treats
By Selina Foreman
Just the name Sweet Dreams French Bakery and Café conjures images of delicious French pastries, cream puffs, croissants, macarons and other sweet treats. However, the new bakery and café on Route 17 near the Newport News line endeavors to be much more than that.
Patrons have quickly come to expect consistently delicious, savory breakfast and lunch items in addition to pastries, cakes, tortes, pies and cookies. The bakery also creates special-order cakes and desserts for events.
Co-owners Sallie Messier and Cindy Triplett joined forces to create Sweet Dreams, taking the leap together after they met a little more than a year ago.
“Cooking has always been a passion,” said Messier. A certified ophthalmic assistant, Messier spent the better part of the last 20 years assisting retina doctors in surgery. When she met Triplett, who had a business plan ready to go for a bakery she had been dreaming about opening, it was an easy decision.
“I would rather try something than later regret not trying it,” she said. “I don’t want to be 85 years old going, ‘I should have done it when I had the opportunity.’”
Messier and Triplett mostly handle the business end of the cafe while Chef Byron Kelly, whose pedigree includes local faves like the Trellis, Blue Talon restaurant and Fire and Vine, creates the food that is quickly gaining a loyal following. Messier said she is continually amazed at the humble ingredients Kelly turns into show-stopping meals, and his baking skills are evident in every inch of the space.
“He whips up bread like we pour bowls of cereal,” she joked. “He makes amazing Canneles.”
All items are homemade, and pastries are made using traditional French techniques. Classics like Gateau Breton, Canneles, Kouign Amann, éclairs and croissants can all be found daily.
For the uninitiated, Gateau Breton is a rustic cake similar to a large shortbread, traditionally with an apricot filling. Canneles hail from the Bordeaux region of France, and are golden, crispy cakes with a custardy center, often flavored with vanilla or rum. A buttery pastry originating from Brittany and whose name literally translates to cake (Kouign) and butter (Amman) is part sticky bun and part sugared croissant.
Kelly’s partner in crime in the kitchen is Devin Whitley, a baker newly graduated from The Culinary Institute. Whitley did a 100-hour internship at Sweet Dreams as a student and never left.
Messier makes the popular chicken salad as well as her pineapple upside down cake, and that along with Triplett’s signature 7-Up cake — the original inspiration for the business — give a nod to their Southern roots.
Another unique twist for this spot is the ABC license they hold, which allows them to sell items containing liquor. Their specialty “Boozy Cupcakes” are available to purchase by the dozen, and éclairs filled with Bailey’s Irish Cream filling are a perfect match.
“I believe that what we have is amazing,” said Messier.
They keep traditional bakery hours, closing most days at 3 p.m. This leaves the space available for evening special events. Private parties, paint nights, baby showers, book clubs and bridal showers are all events Sweet Dreams can accommodate, creating a unique menu based on client needs from lighter bites like charcuterie boards to full sit-down dinners.
“Whatever their needs are, we will do everything within our power to give it to them,” said Messier.