Petals and edibles

You can have your Cake and flora, too, at this cafe inside a Chestnut Hill flower shop.

On those gray days when it feels as if winter will never give way to spring, when bare and brown seems so far from lush and green, Cake is a respite: a warm cafe nestled in the greenhouse of Robertson's Flowers in Chestnut Hill, with tables set beneath soaring tangerine banners, among bountiful potted plants.

A couple of years ago, when Cake was located nearby on Evergreen Avenue, Grey Heck, the owner, would often stop at the florist to buy cut flowers to top her fanciest cakes.

And one day, an owner approached her with a proposition: Would she ever think about moving Cake into the greenhouse?

Today, it seems a perfect fit. The cafe, open for breakfast and lunch, Sunday brunch, and now dinner on Thursday and Friday, brings in more business than the bakery side.

The chef, Joan Gigliotti, a veteran of Judy's, Fork, and Cresheim Cottage, has put together a menu of simple, yet intriguing offerings: The BLT is served on black bread with tarragon mustard and smoked salmon; the Greek salad is bulked up with wheat berries; the brisket, infused with ancho chilies, is served with grilled tortillas and sour cream.

And although the menu changes with the seasons, one salad has become a permanent fixture - the roasted beet and mango salad. "We've tried to take it off the dinner menu at least," says Heck. But too many customers were begging for the tangy, earthy combination of beets, strawberries, mangos, and fresh goat cheese, tossed in vanilla oil with pomegranate balsamic.

While the popularity of salads was anticipated among the largely female lunch crowd, the success of red meat at midday was not.

"I was shocked. It's a very high population of women," Heck says. "Burgers and cheesesteaks are huge!"

And, diets be damned, so are the chocolate tarts. Because, if you are eating at a place called Cake, how can you leave without trying something baked?

Cake, 8501 Germantown Ave., rear; Chestnut Hill. 215-247-6887.