We visit bakeries mostly around the holidays or when we have guests. Deerfield Bakery is close by. Their cakes are good but sweet. My daughter recently had cupcakes for a party and they were easily forgettable. I agree with other posters that nothing there stands out.
Whole Foods market used to make a very tasty pecan pie and flourless chocolate cake, but as they have grown their recipes have become more mediocre as their prices have risen. The Fresh Market used to have a well made fruit tart but not anymore. Based on some posts here we tried Three Tarts in Northfield. The cupcake was stale and the cookies no different than Deerfield's. They did not have enough pies and cakes on offer to taste, and they didn't have small serving options of these.
Blind Faith cafe has very tasty carrot cake and pretty good flourless chocolate cake. Their vegan line in general is the best we have found so far.
We have lots of get togethers in the last 2 months of the year, so I'm interested in other bakery recommendations in the Northshore area. We don't eat breakfast baked goods so after dinner, celebration and holiday focus helps. Vegan also helps but is not a requirement.
As an afterthought, I like stollen, gingerbread and ethnic holiday baked goods. I recall a couple of places in Palatine from last year. Thoughts on that would be welcome. (By the way, I know Palatine and Arlington Heights are not northshore)