Hardin, Montana (pop. 3,567, give or take) is an all-American, apple pie, church on Sundays kind of town. A place where people grow up together, marry one another, raise their kids together, and in time, grow old together. It is a reassuring kind of town – what Mr. B might term “just this side of Mayberry” – and last week as I walked down its main street, I found myself turning into in an unassuming bakery called Oh’s, where I found more than a few of Hardin’s residents casually gathering on a sunny summer afternoon.
When I first discovered Oh’s! Bakery & Cafe, I assumed it was named for the sound one might make upon walking through the front door, as the rich, yeasty scent of baking bread and sweet rolls wafted over. As in, “Oh! My! That smells fabulous,” or, “Oh! Dear! This is not going to be a good thing for my diet.” But I was wrong.
“Oh’s!” is in fact named for a captivating, toe-headed three-year old named Olivia who keeps customers entertained while her parents, Amy and James, go about the business of running their bakery. During the two hours I spent at Oh’s, twenty-three customers came and went, and of them, I was the only “foreigner” (until Mr. B walked in). While Olivia played Pudding Monsters on my iPad and chatted about the bakery, I watched folks greet and linger together, updating one another on family news, talking politics and exchanging ideas over delicious baked goods and beautiful café sandwiches. And caramel rolls. Oh! Those caramel rolls!
Amy and James bought the bakery two years ago, after moving here from Mississippi to join James’ brother as part of Hardin’s small but solid Mennonite community (which Amy estimates at about twenty-five families). As the niece of a baker, Amy says baking is in her blood and buying the bakery seemed the obvious and natural thing to do. If the caramel roll I shared with Mr. B is any indication, I’d have to say Amy made a great choice, and Hardin got itself a bargain in the deal.
The menu is simple and items are very reasonably priced. Be advised, daily baked goods go fast! When I arrived, half a pan of caramel rolls were out on the counter. By the time Mr. B to joined me an hour and a half later, only Amy’s kindness and foresight allowed us the indulgence – having overheard that I wanted one, she held the last one behind the counter until we were ready for it. Delicious baking, great food, and attentive, personal service – who could ask for anything more?
These beautiful murals grace the bakery walls. They are the work of a talented young muralist whose name I need to get next time I visit Hardin.
Oh’s! Bakery & Cafe
305 N Center Street
Cinnamon Rolls, Bread, Pies
Homemade Soup & Sandwiches