Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse @ Coffee Cultures

Last week, I reviewed Epicenter Cafe, specifically to discuss the tasty scones from Sandbox Bakery.  This week, it is time to visit another cafe, Coffee Cultures, again to focus on the baked goods.  They are open only M-F, so I haven't had many opportunities to visit.

I did actually try the coffee (Counter Culture Coffee), and it was fine, but, you know me, I'm all about baked goods.

Coffee Cultures is unique in that they have a very curated set of baked goods from a variety of suppliers, rather than picking just one provider for all their items.  And, as you can probably imagine given this fact, they don't use City Baking, like seemingly everywhere else (like Prima Cafe, and many others).  Don't worry, a full review of all of City Baking's products will be coming soon.

But back to Coffee Cultures.  The baked goods all look amazing.  The croissants (plain, almond, chocolate, or ham and cheese) come from the famous Patisserie Philippe.  The cookies, from my favorite cookie place in the city: Anthony's Cookies.  And the muffins, which I was there to try, from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.  This was my first time tasting goods from Mr. Holmes, and I assure you, it won't be my last!

I didn't try it, but they also serve Straus froyo.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Blueberry White Chocolate Muffin.  $3.50.
The first item I tried was a blueberry white chocolate muffin.

It sounded amazing.  Blueberry muffins are always decent, but then add in white chocolate to sweeten it up?  And, it looked to have a streusel topping?  Yes!

My first reaction upon tasting it was that it was more of a coffee cake than a muffin.  The streusel topping really pushed it in that direction.  But, it wasn't dry like a coffee cake.  It was more like a moist blueberry coffee cake.  Loaded up with really plump, juicy, flavorful berries. There were a few white chocolate chips, but they didn't sweeten it up quite as much as I hoped.

The whole hybrid coffee cake-muffin style did work for me, but it was a bit burnt on the edges.  If it wasn't burnt, I would have been pretty happy with it.

I shared my muffin with Ojan, who loves blueberry muffins, and his first comment was basically identical to mine, "this is half coffee cake, half muffin".  We both liked it, but wished it was slightly better than it was.

$3.50 was a bit pricey for a muffin, and the baked goods did not have prices listed at the cafe, which is a bit lame.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Gluten Free Raspberry Muffin.  $3.50.
On my next visit, I was again drawn to the pastry case.  Everything looked phenomenal, and, the selection was largely different from what was there last time.  I almost went for the ham and cheese croissant, or the almond croissant, from Patisserie Philippe.  They looked marvelous.

But, when the person behind the counter asked, "do you have any questions?"  I blurted out, "yes, which is the best?"  Without hesitation, he pointed at the Gluten Free Raspberry Muffin.  I wasn't even considering that one.  But if he said it was the best ...

It was a good muffin.  Dense, but not in a bad way.  Incredibly moist.  Unlike my previous muffin, it was perfectly cooked, no burnt edges.  It was loaded with raspberries, which added pops of even more moisture to the inside.  And to cap it all off, it was sprinkled with large chunks of sugar for a bit of extra crunch and sweetness.  It was very good, and I'd certainly never guess it was gluten free.  I also appreciated that although it was sweet, it was clearly a muffin, not a cake.

But ... I wouldn't get another.  Why?  You see, I hate seeds.  Remember last week's review of the blackberry scone?  I grew up with blackberry bushes in my yard, and my grandmother would make blackberry pies all summer long.  I'm sure they were great, except I never wanted anything to do with them, as I just can't stand the seeds.  They ruin anything for me.  And, although raspberries don't normally have seeds that bother me much, this did have more seeds than I could stand.

I had such a love-hate relationship with this muffin, as it really was good, but with every bite, I'd have a moment of joy, followed by the realization that there was a seed in between my teeth, which would ruin everything.  And then I'd see the sugary top staring back at me, and dig right back in.  Rinse and repeat.  So much potential, but alas, my own serious hatred of seeds will prevent me from getting another of these.

Again, $3.50 felt a bit pricey for a muffin, but Coffee Cultures selects products from fantastic bakers, and you are paying not only for the baked good itself, but also for that curation.
See review on Urbanspoon
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