Here's the great thing about the new Amphora Bakery in Herndon: You can watch your cake and eat it, too.

The bakery, which just opened in a business park near Fairfax County Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road, ingeniously combines a commercial bakery operation with a charming retail shop. Instead of concealing the area where workers are baking, frosting and decorating, co-owner Maria Cholakis has glassed it in so customers (and their fascinated kids) can watch cakes being created as they shop or eat in the retail area.

Cholakis, who runs the Amphora operations with her brother George Cholakis and cousin Steve Bilidas, made the bakery kid-friendly, with some child-sized tables and chairs, and an amusing assortment of kids' birthday cake decorations, including "fairy food" (pink rock sugar crystals) and "nose worms" (gummy worm candies), plus decorated lollipops and cupcake kits.

For grown-ups, it's a nice place for a cup of coffee and a sweet snack. There are two levels (a loft area has a great bird's-eye view of the bakers at work) with an eclectic collection of tables and comfy chairs that Cholakis calls "European flea-market style." A stone fireplace will be welcome in the winter months.

Cakes, pastries, cookies and breads are sold in the shop, as well as distributed to another bakery in Vienna and the Amphora restaurants located in Vienna and Herndon.

Customers can also special-order cakes, including wedding cakes and sheet cakes, as well as pastry and muffin platters.

For those in need of a dessert fix, some of our favorite treats include the mini brownies, fresh fruit tarts and chocolate decadence cookies. A loaf of multigrain bread is nice for toast or sandwiches.

The bakery also carries various gift items, including humorous note pads (chocolate is a recurring theme), wedding guest books and a handy bridesmaid emergency kit.

-- Candy Sagon

Amphora Bakery, 294 Sunset Park Dr., Herndon; 703-964-0500. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Anto Nitta puts the finishing touches on a cake at the Amphora Bakery.