Friday, August 04, 2017

Keebler Snacks

I feel a bit silly introducing a company like Keebler.  I'm sure you know them.  You've seen the Keebler Elves on tv.  Keebler is the largest cookie and cracker maker in the US, and has been around since the 1800s.  They sell products under a slew of other brands, that I'm sure you also know: Cheez-It, Famous Amos, Town House Crackers, Wheatables, and many, many more.  They are even one of the bakers for Girl Scout Cookies (the Little Brownie Bakers versions).  Oh, and now Kellogg owns them, so, I guess the correct parent company is Kellogg, but, I'll restrict to just Keebler branded products for these snack reviews.


"Let the Keebler™ Elves make your world a little sweeter. Explore the tasty goodness baked into every bite of Keebler cookies."
The Keebler elves are probably most known for their Chips Deluxe cookies.  I remember always thinking they were dry, hard, and really boring as a kid.  I have no interest in trying them now as an adult.  I do recall liking the Fudge Stripes cookies though, I'm not really sure why, as, they too were hard cookies, and, I'm just not a cookie girl.  I kinda remember liking Vienna Fingers too.   Keebler also makes a slew of other types of packaged hard cookies too, like Sandies (shortbreads), E.L. Fudge, frosted animal crackers, Vanilla Wafers (no, no Nilla Wafter, those are Nabisco), and many others.  But again, just hard cookies, not my thing.

I did however try one kind, marketed at kids.
Cinnamon Graham Bug Bites..
"Crunchy and lightly sweet bite-sized crackers in cute bug shapes."

These were actually really tasty.  And yes, they were just graham cracker snacks in silly shapes.

They had a strong cinnamon flavor.  Nicely crunchy.  Somewhat caramelized on the outside.  They were good plain, but even better when dipped in Fluff.  Or Nutella.  Or both.  Just sayin'.

Sadly, they have been discontinued, and are now only available as part of a variety pack with RIce Krispies Treats and Skooby-Doo! Graham Cracker Sticks.

Sandwich Crackers

Keebler has a large lineup of crackers, sold under the Town House brand.  But they also have many different varieties of sandwich crackers, each with a different cracker and filling, sold just as Keebler items, no sub-brand.  They are named simply, all flowing the "cracker name" + "filling name" model.

The offerings are pretty simple, crackers filled with peanut butter or cheese, but the shapes and flavors do change slightly.  Most are fairly basic, but they have a few for the more adventurous types, like a Pepper Jack version.

All suffer from one common problem: way too little filling for the amount of cracker.  Perhaps they need to be like Oreo and offer DoubleStufs?
Club & Cheddar.

"Enjoy the signature buttery flavor and flaky, melt-in-your-mouth texture of these sandwich crackers made with real cheddar cheese and Club® Original Crackers."

I was in the mood for something cheesy, so I went for the "Club & Cheddar".

"Club" is the type of cracker apparently.

I was curious about the name, so of course I looked it up, and discovered that Keebler makes a variety of crackers in the "Club" line, as standalone crackers.  They come in mini sizes for adding to soup, sticks for dipping, or standard cracker shapes.  Described as "light, buttery, flaky crackers".

Anyway, these were square versions of their Club cracker, with a thin layer of totally fake, er, I mean "Real Cheddar", cheese in the middle.

The crackers were rich and buttery, and the filling tasted sorta like easy cheese (or, at least my memory of easy cheese).  I actually kinda liked these, but ratio of cracker to cheese was all off, way too much cracker, too little “cheese”.  I just wanted the cheese!
Toast & Peanut Butter.
"Tasty sandwich crackers made with real peanut butter and crispy toasted crackers."

Next I went for "Toast & Peanut Butter".

I was again amused by the name of the cracker.  "Toast"?  There was nothing toast-like about these.  What is a "toasted cracker"?  Where do they come up with the names?

Anyway, "Toast" were also rich buttery crackers, although actually pretty different from "Club".  Sure, they were round instead of square, but they were perhaps even more buttery, more flaky, and reminded me of Ritz crackers.  That might have just been because they looked just like Ritz though?

Inside was a thin layer of peanut butter.  Far too thin.  It wasn't particularly interesting peanut butter, not creamy, not chunky, just there.  Good enough, and less fake tasting than the cheese.

These were also fine, and reminded me of the snack I used to eat with my dad in the evenings while we watched Star Trek together.  He'd pull out a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter (chunky!), a knife, and a bag of Ritz (or sometimes Saltines), and we'd just sit there spreading crackers with a generous amount of peanut butter, munching away.  Sometimes I did make them into sandwiches like this too, but usually left them open faced.  The key is, I used more peanut butter on a single cracker than this entire pack of 6 had!  I loved them, and these did actually make me nostalgic.

They also make a PB'n J version, that looks identical, plus some jam?  I'm curious about those, but, really, I just want Ritz and Skippy now.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Rocko's Ice Cream Tacos

Ice Cream Tacos.  From a food truck.  Made with liquid nitrogen.

Yup, a trendy food mashup.  And yup, tacos are a fitting mashup concept for San Francisco (I'm looking at you sushi burritos).  But I prefer to think of these a bit more old school: just think of them as Choco Tacos.  You know, the most awesome frozen packaged ice cream novelty of the late '90s.  Except, these are customizable Choco Tacos, made to order, with organic local ingredients.
"What's an ice cream taco? Glad you asked!  We take a freshly baked waffle taco shell, stuff it with your favorite ice cream and then dip it into various chocolate or peanut butter dips."
Rocko's Ice Cream Tacos is a Mountain View based food truck and caterer offering, well, ice cream tacos.  They have no physical store front, but you can find them at all the big food truck events (Off the Grid, etc) around the Bay Area all summer.  I recently attended an event catered by them.

I was excited by the concept, to be honest.  I love ice cream, and who doesn't love customization and getting to see liquid nitrogen come out?  They freeze the dips using liquid nitrogen, to order.  Of course.

Rocko's prides themselves on quality product, not just gimmick.  All ingredients are organic and sourced locally, and, they mean it: Straus Family Creamery and Clover for the dairy (milk, cream and butter), local organic eggs, Oakland based TCHO chocolate, even the vanilla comes from a place in Santa Cruz, the flour from San Carlos and Capay Valley, and the oil from San Leandro.  They do not make their own ice cream, but it comes from Leslie's Dessert Werks, based in South San Francisco.

I was glad to try it, but it really was better in concept and novelty than practice, sadly.
Custom Made Ice Cream Taco!
I customize my taco, and watched the creation be dipped into the chocolates and liquid nitrogen in front of me.  It was fun to customize, and fun to watch.

They also make dipped to order "Ace"-Cream Cake Pops, made from cake and ice cream balls dipped in your choice of chocolate, dipped frozen bananas, and frozen s'mores tacos (with warm toasted marshmallow instead of ice cream inside), but the event I attended had only the tacos.
Taco Ice Cream Stand.
For catering, they offer up a cart for mid-sized events (minimum 50), a full truck for large gatherings (100+), and drop off pre-packaged goods for smaller events (packaged on dry ice).

This was a mid-size event, so we had the cart.  The little generator and liquid nitrogen tank sitting on the sidewalk were a bit funny to see (and made me wonder a bit about what kind of permits they needed to get ... )
Friendly signage explains the concept, complete with illustration.
Options for the day.
I'm not sure if cart options are always more limited than truck options, or if this is just something our hosts selected, but we could only pick from 4 ice cream flavors (Espresso, Mint Chip, Salty Caramel, Peach Ginger), 4 dips (Milk Chocolate,  Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate,  Peanut Butter), and no toppings.

Rocko's normally offers about a dozen flavors of ice cream (including vegan options), the 4 dips, and a bunch of toppings.  Toppings usually include pretzels, cocoa nibs, pistachios, almonds, coconut, and toffee, all for an additional $0.50.  A single dip is always included, extras are $0.25.

In some ways, our simple menu made my decision making easier?
Liquid Nitrogen!
Of course, the fun here is the liquid nitrogen, which the taco is dunked into after dipped in the liquid dips.  This causes it to solidify.  And it is fun.
All Packaged Up!
Right after dipping and freezing, the taco is wrapped in parchment paper, and handed over.
Salty Caramel Ice Cream Taco with Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and White Chocolate Dips. $5.
"Waffle Taco + Ice Cream + Dip."

For my creation, I picked the salted caramel ice cream (although I almost went for mint chip, and wished I had), mostly based on reviews I had read.

I was really excited to try the peanut butter dip, but, it didn't seem like it would go with salted caramel, (or mint chip for that matter, and definitely not peach ginger!), so I opted to just get all the other dips.  All tacos were pre-dipped in milk chocolate, so I added Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate, which she dipped one end in each.

White chocolate was sweet and tasty.  The dark was fine but unremarkable, even though high quality TCHO.  I really liked the texture of the chocolate, they both got really snappy, and the liquid nitrogen process clearly works well for this.

The taco shell (e.g. waffle cone) was actually really good, and my favorite element.  It was not too hard nor soft, pleasantly sweet.  Soooo many better than the taco part of a real Choco Taco, or any ice cream novelty sundae cone.  Clearly fresher.

The ice cream is made by Leslie's Dessert Werks.  It was the real downside to my creation.  The ice cream was far too sweet.  I didn’t taste the salt.  And the ice cream didn’t seem particularly good quality, it was not creamy, was rather icy and crystalized.  Maybe the refreezing causes this?  Even as it melted, it just got more grainy, rather than smooth and creamy.

I appreciated the serving size, just 3 1/4" long, filled with 1.5 scoops of ice cream, and not unreasonable for a single portion.  A standard taco is usually $5 (+$0.50 for toppings, +$0.25 for additional dips), which seems a bit high for a small portion though.

Overall, this was fun to try, and I did like the shell and dips, but, alas, the ice cream didn't complete the deal.  I also did want more crunch, and wished I could have added nibs, nuts, or really any of the toppings.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Waffling Leftovers: Hotdogs

Yes, I waffle my leftovers.  Sometimes I pick strange items to attempt to waffle, mostly because I don't see any other way to salvage the leftovers.  This is a story of one of those times.
Leftover Hot Dog Transformation.
Will it Waffle: Leftover Turkey Hot Dogs?  Yeah, I guess, but, still a leftover hot dog.
The Original: Turkey Hot Dogs.
The original form was turkey hot dogs, grilled on the bbq.

A secret love of mine, really.  I don't like turkey normally, but I adore turkey hot dogs.  I like them far more than beef hot dogs.  Bonus points if they are corn dogs, but, regular turkey hot dogs make me a happy camper.

The originals were great, fresh off the grill, nice char marks on some (for those who like them that way).  I enjoyed one very much.

But of course, there were leftovers.
Leftover Turkey Hot Dog.
A leftover, fully cooked, hot dog is not a glorious thing.

I had selected a super charred one, since that is how I like them, and it basically was just a shriveled up sad looking thing.  I certainly didn't want it cold, and I was skeptical it would be very good just heated back up in microwave or toaster oven.
Waffling ...
So, into the waffle iron it went, 350 degrees.

Not that it needed more grill marks, but, the waffle iron added to the existing ones, creating a waffle pattern.

I let it go a few minutes, and then removed it.
Waffled Leftover Hot Dog!
The result?

Yup, even more charred, again, as I like it.  Lots of crispness to the exterior.  The hot dog stayed fairly juicy inside.

It was however ... still a leftover hot dog.   I can't say it was magical this way, but it was probably better than another reheating method? 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

New Air New Zealand Lounge, Sydney

Last time I flew on Air New Zealand out of Sydney, the lounge was a temporary space, down in a basement somewhere.  The space wasn't exactly nice, but I did recall the breakfast items (in particular the muffins, yogurt, and muesli) being quite great.  I didn't write it up, since the lounge was temporary at the time, and I saw no value.

In December 2016, I was able to visit the brand new lounge, and it really was a nice space.  Sure, it is NOT the Qantas First Class Lounge - there is no spa, no made-to-order Neil Perry dining, but, for a business class lounge, it was quite nice, large, not over-crowded, well looked after, and very modern.

My visit was at 10:20am, which meant I was able to catch the end of breakfast service (cleared away at 10:30) and the beginning of lunch (set up right after).  I left at 11:10am though, so I didn't get to see the lunch "action station" in operation, only the buffet.

I was impressed by the facilities and the food, particularly the breakfast.


I did not check out the showers, nor the kids play space, but both of those were available.
Runway Views.
Many, many seating options were available.  Along the large, bright windows were cozy looking wing chairs and little tables.
Along one wall were these blue padded benches, with bright pink pillows, and beautiful wall art.  This is where we settled, and were happy to find power outlets even here, under the bench.
Communal Table, Black Arm Chairs.
In the center of the space was a communal table, with built in power outlets, and cute little stools.  I'm sure this isn't for everyone, but I thought it was a unique style of seating.

This area had more wing chairs, this time black.  All seats had nearby little tables to set things on.
Arm Chairs.
More traditional black armchairs with side tables were also available, along with red wing chairs.

Nearly every seat had power of some sort.  This space was well designed.
This is the best photo I got of the bar, oops!  

As it was still morning, the bar wasn't very active, but, the other end of the bar featured a coffee barista station, which I visited (more on that soon).


Most drinks were self-serve, with two large drink stations, one on either side of the room, in addition to the central bar.
Wine, Spirits, Juice. 
Apple and orange juice were in dispensers, and a small selection of spirits and wine were on the counter.  I think the bar had a much bigger selection, but I didn't investigate.
Soft Drinks, Sparkling and Still Water  Tap.
More self serve drinks were a soda fountain, and a water tap.  I was happy to see the sparkling water tap, although it meant I couldn't snag a bottle to bring on my flight with me (which, didn't turn out to be a problem).
Assorted Beer and Cider.
Coolers also held New Zealand beers and even cider.
Self-Serve Robot Coffee.
Tea making facilities included a decent selection of tea, but no rooibos.

The drink stations also had a robot coffee machine, for those who wanted to just push a button and get a coffee or espresso drink.
Ordering Tablet.
Barista service was available at the bar, where you could order through a tablet, customize your drink, select if you wanted it for there or takeaway, and then be given the time at which your drink would be ready.  It also animated your drink filling the cup as you put in selections.  Very cute, and just like I had used in the lounge in Auckland.

You could also order through their app on your phone, if you are into downloading random extra apps to bog down your phone.
Decaf Long Black, Double.
I went for a decaf long black, double.

It was decent.  Nothing mind-blowing, but, not bad.
Biscotti, Marshmallows, Sweeteners.
The end of the barista bar had jars with biscotti and marshmallows, plus an assortment of sweeteners.

Of course I munched on marshmallows.


The food layout is a buffet, plus an "action station" with a chef serving up a particular dish made to order.

I arrived at 10:20am, just in time to grab some breakfast items before the staff whisked them away to make room for lunch.  I'm glad I did, even though I had just had a full breakfast in the lounge at my hotel for one last Eggs Benedict!.  I remembered the temp lounge having good yogurt, bircher muesli, and baked goods, and that did not change with the move to the full lounge.


Cereal, Yogurt, Fruit.
The first section had cereal dispensers on the end, big bowls of plain yogurt (greek or non-fat) and fruit salad, and individual pots of yogurt parfaits (passion fruit, cranberry & orange, raspberry)  and bircher muesli.
Bircher Muesli.
Ah, bircher muesli.  Something I love, and first discovered in Sydney.  Sadly not something we have much of in the US.  On this trip, I didn't have any bircher that I really liked though, because the Sheraton lounge version had too much acidic apple and too much tart yogurt for my taste.

The lounge saved me.  This was great.  Creamy, soft stewed oats, and not too tart (in fact, not tart at all).  It was very sweet, but the sweetness seemed to come from honey, and was a pleasant sweetness.

On top was a few raisins and a chunk of dried apricot, but besides that, there were no mix-ins.  No raisins soaking up the juices inside, no nuts, no seeds, and not even any apple?  I wouldn't really call this bircher muesli, it really seemed more like just a creamy version of overnight oats.  But I'm not complaining.

Overall, I enjoyed it, particularly the pleasant sweetness, but I wouldn't call this a traditional bircher.
Raspberry Yogurt Parfait.
Yogurt parfaits were available in three flavors: passion fruit, cranberry orange, or raspberry.  Since the staff were there clearing the breakfast items as we arrived, I rapidly just grabbed the first I could, raspberry, but I had a bit of remorse that I didn't get passion fruit.

This was very good though.

The yogurt was rich and thick, clearly full fat, full cream, delicious yogurt that we don't get in the US.  I loved the yogurt.

In the middle was a layer with raspberry compote, nicely sweet, and a granola/seed mix, soft from being inside the parfait, so not a crunchy element, but it was still nice.

Overall, very tasty.
Baked Goods, Fruit, Toast.
The next section contained croissants, danishes, cinnamon rolls, whole fruit (pears, apples, bananas), toast, and pretzels.
Danishes, Cinnamon Rolls.
I didn't try the danish, but it looked like it had strawberry filling?  The sign said "pain au chcoolat", which made me realize we missed out on some of the pastry selections, they clearly had more earlier.
Cinnamon roll.
I did grab a cinnamon roll, and threw it in my bag to eat later (in a baggie of course!).  I pulled it out on my next flight, and was so glad I had grabbed one.

It was actually really good, even a bit later.  The pastry was crispy, the cinnamon layer super flavorful, and the entire thing a bit sticky and sweet.  A wonderful pastry, particularly for a lounge.
I didn't try the plain croissants, but, given the success of the cinnamon roll, I sorta wish I had.
Cheese, Crackers, Dried Fruit, Nuts.
The backside of the pastry section had cheeses (brie, sage cheddar, and blue), almonds, dried cranberries and apricots, and crackers, served on attractive wooden cutting boards.

This station stayed out during lunch as well.
Thyme Roasted Mushrooms, Hash Brown Bites.
The hot foods section had 3 chafing dishes, each with two items.

I did not try the roasted mushrooms nor hash brown bites.
Chorizo bites, Fritatta.
Nor did I try the fritatta.

I did try a chunk of chorizo, spicy, flavorful, quite nice.
Scrambled Eggs.
The scrambled eggs looked much better than my hotel breakfast buffet, creamy, and loaded with herbs, but I skipped those too.
Toaster, Crepe Station.
The made to order action station featured a chef making crepes with assorted toppings.  If I had arrived any sooner, I certainly would have tried this.  A very unique offering!


Apple Cinnamon Muffin.
Muffins seemed to be part of the transition time, as they were brought out after the breakfast items were cleared away.

I remembered the muffins being good before, so, uh, I tried all three this time (to be fair, I stashed them in my bag too, and ate them on a later flight when I got peckish.  Am I breaking rules here?  I'm not sure, but they were really good, and I'm glad I did so.).

The apple cinnamon was my second favorite, but it was a decent muffin, it seemed fresh, not stale, and the apple and cinnamon flavors were both strong.  I just don't tend to like those flavors.
Zucchini, Walnut, & Parmesan Muffin.
The savory muffin ended up my favorite.  I didn't necessarily taste the zucchini, but it was nicely cheesy from the parmesan, and loaded with walnuts.  I appreciated that they had a savory baked good, as it made me feel less guilty eating three muffins when one was not sweet ...
Raspberry White Chocolate Muffin.
The one I expected to like the most was the raspberry white chocolate, but, it was my least favorite.  It didn't have white chocolate chips.  It didn't have noticeable raspberries, although it was pinkish.  It didn't have much flavor at all.

But like the others, it wasn't dry, was fresh, and was topped with powdered sugar and a slightly crisp top.
Plain Scones, Whipped Cream, Strawberry Jam.
Scones too were part of the transition time, post-breakfast.

On my previous visit to the Auckland Air New Zealand lounge I was sad that I had missed out on the scones, by opting to use the bathroom first, and having the gone moments later.  This time, I was able to get one.

Turns out, I wasn't missing anything.  The scones were just hard biscuits, no tang, nothing interesting about them.  The whipped cream was fine, but, just whipped cream.  The strawberry jam was as generic as could be, just goo, no visible fruit.

Disappointing, but, honestly, I didn't need this anyway.
The main lunch lineup seemed to be sandwiches.  The lineup was more interesting than I expected, not just basic egg salad.  Vegetarian options were baba ganoush, carrot, tabouli, and lettuce in an orange wrap or sundried tomato cream cheese, spinach, and fresh tomato on white or wheat bread.  The other wraps were chipotle chicken, with pumpkin, fetta, and buttercrunch or cured silverside with mustard and ice berg.  I am not sure what the final sandwich was.

I was surprised to see no salad options, but perhaps those replace the muffins and scones?  Still, an impressive sandwich lineup, as far as sandwiches go.
Carrot, Pumpkin, & Split Pea Soup.
The soup station had toppings and rolls as well.

The action station didn't start until closer to lunch time, so I wasn't able to see what the chef would be making, but I saw woks being set up.  Next time!
On the end was cookie jars, with shortbread, chocolate chip, and anzac biscuits.  Cookies for breakfast!
Fruit Salad, Carrot Cake, Pear & Raspberry Cake.
Dessert selections, in addition to the cookies, scones, and muffins were a fruit salad and two cakes.  I didn't actually try either, as I was beyond stuffed at this point, and cakes don't exactly slip into the purse easily.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Caffe Centro

Caffe Centro is yet another neighborhood cafe in San Francisco, one that has been around for more than 20 years.  It is small, not trendy, and really does have a community feel to it.  I was a bit disappointed when I started listening to conversations around me though and realized that nearly every person there was pitching start up ideas.  I'm not joking.  But then again, it is located right where all my startup friends hang out too, so, I guess that *is* the community.

Curb Appeal.
The location is adjacent to South Park, a park that was recently renovated and is now quite nice.  

It is a small cafe, open for breakfast, lunch, and happy hour, with a small breakfast menu, sandwiches and salads at lunch, and pastries all day.  The pastries are not made in house, which gave me a chance to try more items from wholesale producers that I've been trying from many other places around town.

I didn't find any hits on the pastry or coffee menu, but, the staff were quite friendly.
Sidewalk Seating.
If the weather is nice, and you are lucky enough to get one of the few small tables out front, the location right alongside South Park really is quite charming.  Or, now that the park is re-done, you can take your items to go sit in the sun in the park on a nice day, which is what I did, and recommend.

Most seating however is inside.

Breakfast Baked Goods

Caffe Centro does offer a full breakfast menu with egg sandwiches, bagels, toast, wraps, scrambled eggs, even acai bowls.  But I had my eyes on only one part of the breakfast menu: the baked goods.  I'm always excited to check out baked goods from new places.

Caffe Centro, like many other cafes around town, sources most of their breakfast baked goods from City Baking (like Caffe BiancoMartha & BrosPrima Cafe).  I was interested in trying more items that I hadn't found other places yet.
City Baking: Strawberry Scone.  $3.
"These moist scones are bursting with color and the sweetness of strawberries that melt in your mouth."

As you know, I've never been a fan of most of City Baking's scones before, like the blueberry triangle scone from Prima Cafe, or the mixed berry round scone from Diller's.  But, I was craving a scone again, so I decided to give another flavor a try.  I had the choice of a triangle strawberry scone, or a round cranberry scone.  Since I don't really care for cranberries, and had a vague memory that the triangle scones were slightly better than the round ones, I went for the strawberry.

It was a well baked scone, not overcooked, dried out, or even brown anywhere.  It had a decent crumble to it, and I liked the slight sugar topping.  It had a slight tang to the base flavor.

So the base scone was decent.  Not remarkable, but decent.  And, if it really was "bursting" with strawberries, it might have been a good scone.
But, it wasn't.  There was exactly one lone, tiny chunk of strawberry in the entire scone.  And it wasn't a petite scone.

The scone base was actually pretty good, better than other City Baking scones, but, there was only this one minuscule chunk of strawberry inside, so it didn't add any additional flavor, as the base was plain.

Luckily for me, Caffe Centro has a condiment station with peanut butter and jam for their bagels and toast.  The peanut butter was really basic, standard, creamy peanut butter, not that great.  It didn't belong on a scone anyway, but I of course couldn't resist trying it.  The strawberry jam was filled with HUGE chunks of berries, super sweet, somewhat candied even.  The jam really helped the scone out, and saved the day.  I probably wouldn't get this again though.

The $3 price was higher than anywhere else's prices for the exact same City Baking scones.
City Baking: Pecan Sticky Bun.
On my next visit, I was intending to get a scone, but I was really disappointed by the selection.  The only ones available were assorted berry scones, that I've never liked before.  I went to fall back on a muffin, but they only had black bottom muffins, which just didn't seem appealing.  The croissants didn't really like good.  The only other options were frosted cinnamon rolls, or pecan sticky buns, neither of which I was particularly excited by, but, given the choice, I obviously went for the more decadent offering.

This was one of the least interesting pecan sticky buns I've ever had.  It was dried out.  Yes, there was cinnamon between the folds of the dough, but it somehow didn't really have much cinnamon flavor.  The part that should have been the highlight, the stickiness, was also totally lacking.  Yes, there was a sweet moist topping, but, it didn't really have anything going for it.  The nuts were fine at least.

This was truly, truly boring, which makes no sense, given what it was.  Maybe it would have been better warmed up, although Caffe Centro did not offer that.  But still, too dry, too flavorless.  I somewhat wished I'd tried the cinnamon roll instead, although I imagine the dough would have been the same, but at least it would have been covered in icing?  And who knows, I did actually end up liking the cinnamon roll from 7-Eleven ...
City Baking: Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake. $3.50.
"This moist cake is bursting with flavorful Maine Blueberries. The crumb topping adds a great texture and sweetness to every bite."

Finally, I went for coffee cake.

Ok, when do I ever get coffee cake?  Pretty rarely.  But the only scones that Caffe Centro carries are the berry ones I already know I don't really care for, the muffins are only bran (which I didn't like when I got one at Prima Cafe or black bottom (which doesn't make sense as a muffin to me), and the croissants just don't ever look very good.

Thus, I was left with coffee cake.  And honestly, it did look good.

It wasn't bad.  It came in very distinct layers.  The base was very dense, clearly loaded with butter.  It was fairly plain, not particularly spiced or flavorful, not particularly moist nor dry.  Just, there.  This layer I wasn't excited by.

Next, a generous layer of blueberries, still a bit plump.  They added moisture and flavor.

And then, the top, the most distinctive feature.  There was just as thick of a layer of crumb topping as there was base to this cake.  It broke off easily in little chunks, which I loved, and was sweet, but not too sweet.  A good crumb topping, but, not remarkable.

So, overall, it was fine.  It wasn't a showstopper, but there was nothing bad about it either.  It did go well with coffee, which is sorta the point of coffee cake.

I felt a bit strange having it for breakfast however, as it was clearly so loaded with butter and sugar.  There wasn't any part of me that could justify that this was an ok thing to have for breakfast.  Uh, it had fruit?

It was also massive.  The slice was $3.50, which is more than the other baked goods at Caffe Centro, but, did reflect the size.  I would have been much happier with a smaller slice.  However, I just had half for "breakfast", and saved the other half for dessert after lunch, which also worked perfectly well.

Dessert Baked Goods

The dessert lineup is mostly bars, brownies, and cookies, from Ultimate Cookie (who makes wonderful oat cakes) and City Baking.
Ultimate Cookie (?): Pecan Chewy Bar.  $2.75.
"Shortbread crust topped with a blend of honey, butter, walnuts and pecans. OUR NUMBER ONE SELLING BAR for over 20 years."

I think this was an Ultimate Cookie product, rather than City Baking, who provided the other items I tried.

A pecan bar, with shortbread crust, gooey layer, pecans and walnuts on top.

I love pecan pie, so I was really excited for this bar form.  The part of the pie that I like is the gooey layer and the nuts, so I didn't care that it was in bar form with a shortbread base rather than pastry dough.  Both can work for me.

But ... this was not good.  The shortbread was mushy.  The gooey layer had no flavor.  I guess it was sweet, but all one note.  And the nuts?  Bitter and stale tasting, likely from the addition of walnuts.  I rather suspect that this was baked much earlier in the week, and had been sitting there unloved for quite a while.

Definitely not tasty, I wouldn't get another (the $2.75 price seemed high too).


Caffe Centro offers standard espresso drinks, brewed coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, plus cold beverages such as lemonade, soft drinks, and beer.
Decaf Macchiato.  $2.25.
I'm really not sure why I choose a macchiato, as I normally go for just an Americano.  But somehow a touch of foam sounded appealing.

The espresso was strong and very bitter.  It definitely had the decaf "funk" to it.  I didn't care for it.  The foam was decently done though.  No latte art or anything, but good microfoam.

The coffee condiment station was simple but adequate, with sugar in the raw and splenda, milk and half and half, and cinnamon and chocolate powders.

$2.25 price was standard, but I wouldn't get another.
Caffe Centro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato