Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fearless Coffee

In my review of Red Dog Restaurant last week, I mentioned that the coffee I enjoyed came from their neighboring cafe, Fearless Coffee.

Fearless is the final installment in Chef Lauren Kiino's trio of establishments in the neighborhood.  Il Cane Rosso is the original, a fast-casual restaurant in the Ferry Building serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.  As I mentioned last week, Red Dog is a full service restaurant, open for lunch and dinner daily, and brunch on weekends.  Fearless is the most casual of them all, a coffee shop, open daily for breakfast and lunch.  Located next to Red Dog, but in a separate space, and with a totally different decor.

The fact that Fearless and Red Dog are actually open on weekends is their first selling point.  The neighborhood has seen rapid expansion, of housing particularly, yet the coffee shop and restaurant scene has really lagged behind.  As a resident of the neighborhood, I am thrilled to have more options available on a weekend, and casual ones at that.

The food philosophy at Fearless is the same as Chef Kiino's other establishments, with a focus on local, organic, fresh, seasonal cuisine.  At Fearless, there is an emphasis on grab-n-go items, as it is designed to be a quick option for office workers nearby, which makes sense, given the location inside an office park.  These items are available in coolers for self-service, and a few other things can be ordered at the registers.  They also have a small marketplace of assorted packaged goods from local vendors, including my favorite coconut chips (Dang!, which I just realized I have never reviewed.  I'll have to fix that soon!).

The breakfast menu includes a few breakfast sandwiches, a healthy quinoa bowl, and a couple items also featured at Il Cane Rosso or Red Dog, like their cinnamon toast or a yogurt parfait with housemade granola and fruit.  A few pastries round out the offerings, including a savory sausage roll, several types of muffins (strawberry-streusel, bluebery-meyer lemon, and banana pecan), and coffee cake (the muffins and coffee cake are available for brunch at Red Dog too).  For lunch, the menu is soups, salads, and sandwiches (hot or cold), which sounds similar to Il Cane Rosso, but the selection is much, much larger, but (gasp!), Fearless does not have the signature warm egg salad.  The most exciting part of the menu, for me at least, is the dessert selection, since, as you may recall, I was saddened by the fact that Il Cane Rosso has only a single cookie available.

On all my visits, service was friendly.  And they had samples of baked goods at the register, which is always a bonus for me, as I love trying everything.  I took my items to go, but they did have a few tables inside and out, along with plenty of seats around the fountains in the office park.


Decaf Iced Americano, Small.  $2.25.
Since I was at a coffee shop, I had try the coffee, even if I was mostly eying the dessert.  It was a hot day, so I went for iced.  If I were a regular coffee drinker, they have special cold brew, but since I wanted decaf, an iced americano was my only option.

It was delicious.  I added just a hint of milk and sugar since I tend to like my iced coffee that way, but it didn't need it.  No decaf funk to it at all.  I can't wait to try the hot coffee next time.

$2.25 was a standard price for a quality americano, and I'd gladly get another.
Decaf Americano, Medium. $2.75.
On another visit, I finally went for a hot americano.

It was really quite good.  No decaf funk, not sharp or harsh, very balanced.  I didn't even want to add any sweetener or cream to it.


Banana Pudding.  $4.
But I was there for the sweet treats.  You know I love desserts, and in particular, puddings.  After all, my blog has a label just for my reviews of puddings.
I was delighted to see that Fearless offers several pudding-style desserts, including a very tempting chocolate pudding with espresso whipped cream and a panna cotta, but I went for the banana pudding.

Pudding cups are a great idea for Fearless, since they focus on grab-n-go items, and this was easy to take with me.  Plus, homemade pudding is so much better than grocery store pudding, and most restaurants do not serve pudding, as it isn't upscale enough.  So, it is both convenient and fairly unique.
Top View.
The pudding cup was a layered creation.  The bottom layer was banana pudding, next came a few slices of banana, followed by whipped cream, and then, a crumble top.  It was like a banana cream pie, turned into a pudding cup.  Yes!

The pudding itself was thick and fairly creamy, although the consistency was a bit strange, it was almost gritty.  It wasn't just plain vanilla pudding though, it did have some banana flavor.

The slices of banana were just that, simple banana slices, but fresh, and not turning brown or anything.  My cup didn't have many though.

Next came the whipped cream, which sorta reminded me of Coolwhip.  I think that perhaps because it wasn't freshly applied, it deflated a bit?

And finally, the crumble top.  I'm not entirely sure what it was, it seemed perhaps like a crumbled oatmeal cookie?  I was going to say it was granola, since it had oats for sure, but, it was more sweet and buttery than granola usually is.  The crumble on top was my favorite part, I always enjoy a bit of crunch with my creamy desserts.

I loved the idea of this dessert, since I love puddings, and I love banana cream pie.  It didn't quite come together for me though.  The biggest issue was the ratios: the majority of the cup was the banana pudding, and I really wanted more whipped cream for that amount of pudding.  Just adding more whipped cream probably wouldn't work well though, because when eating out of a cup like this, if the whipped cream layer was thicker, then you'd get many spoonfuls of just the whipped cream.  So, maybe it would be better with multiple, thinner layers, parfait style?   I also would have liked more banana slices.

When I got a perfect bite of all the layers, I really quite enjoyed it, but, I was left with lots of extra pudding at the end.  Of course I devoured that too, but, I probably wouldn't pick this dessert again.

$4 was a fine price for the size of the dessert.  I'm very excited to see what else they add to the dessert menu!

Baked Goods

Caramelized Apple Pecan Tea Cake. $3.
My receipt may say "lemon raspberry tea cake", but I believe this was caramelized apple pecan tea cake, with a cinnamon top.

I went to Fearless intending to finally get a muffin, since their streusel topped muffins always look so amazing, but I'm never there at the right time of day for a muffin, so I haven't tired one yet.  And then ... I saw the tea cakes.  They had several varieties, one was banana nut, the other lemon poppy, and then there was this one.  I heard "caramelized apples", I heard "pecans", and I heard "cinnamon on top", and ... it just sounded good to me.  I don't know why.  I don't really like apples, I don't like quickbreads or cakes ... I blame the word "caramelized".

Anyway, this was very moist, dense cake.  Not exactly dessert-style cake, not as sweet and obviously sans frosting, but it also clearly wasn't bread.  There were generous chunks of well cooked apples.  Lots of nuts for crunch.  I didn't detect much cinnamon.  Nor did I tasted anything "caramelized".  Yes, the apples were cooked down but ... I was hoping for something different.

So I didn't care for it, and gave it to Ojan, who gobbled it up.  I think this was just poor choice on my part, as it was a generous slice, loaded with stuff, and super moist.  Just not my thing.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie. $2.
By now, you probably know I don't really like cookies, but Ojan does, so he picked this up one day.  He's been on a peanut butter cookie eating spree these days.

So, as I said, cookies aren't my favorite dessert.  But if I'm going to eat a cookie, I want it to be a thick, soft, slightly underbaked one.  This was not that.  This was crispy, very crispy.  Complete opposite of my style of cookie.

But, the peanut flavor was quite good, more flavorful that most peanut butter cookies, and the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is always a winner.  If I liked hard style cookies, I'd probably like this, a well made cookie, just not for me. 

Fearless Coffee on Urbanspoon
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