Friday, April 27, 2018

Cornology Popcorn

By now you know I'm obsessed with snacks, and popcorn in particular.  So I'll keep this short and sweet.

Cornology is a fairly fancy popcorn company, not mass produced. They have shops in San Francisco and Japan only, where their goods are popped fresh, and packaged to order.  Beyond that, they only distribute through small retail shops and mail order, and claim to never produce or bag until popcorn is ordered.

Flavors range from standard savory (salted, double cheddar, "movie", truffle Parmesan) to standard sweet (caramel, chocolate drizzle, sweet) to the more unique, like "The Daily Grind" ... coffee flavored.

I tried a sweet and a savory, but didn't care for either.
Double Cheddar. $5.95
"Vermont and California got together for twice the cheddar. Your favorite macaroni and cheese taste is all over this scrumptious snack."

I started with the classic double cheddar.  I loved the idea of it being like "macaroni and cheese taste", as in, totally fake cheese.  Yes!

And it was signature orange.  Things were looking good.

But ...  the cheese was too ... cheesy?  I kept trying to like it, and got halfway through the bag, but just never liked it.

C Squared.
"Add our Chef’s 50-year old family recipe for Carmel Corn to our super popular and cheese-a-licious Double Cheddar popcorn and you get C Squared!"

So I moved on to C Squared, with both cheddar and caramel, a la Garrett's famous mix.  Spoiler: Garrett's is much more pleasing to me.

The caramel was too ... sweet.  I love caramel corn, I love decadent caramel corn, but this was just too cloyingly sweet.  Yes, I realize how crazy that is coming from me.

And no, the "too cheesy" cheese and the "too sweet" caramel were not able to balance each other out.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stan's Donuts

I've been hearing about Stan's Donuts for quite a while, from my team who works in Mountain View.  They have a donut rotation, where someone brings in donuts, every single Friday.  You know if I worked there, I'd be the most enthusiastic member of the group.  As it is, I lurk on their mailing list, even though I never get to enjoy the treats myself.

And then one Friday, I was FINALLY there on a Friday.  And I lucked out.  The person on donut duty brought in Stan's Donuts.
Simple Box for Donuts.
I've never been to Stan's, but my understanding is that it is an old school donut shop, no frills, no fancy flavors, just classic donuts.  Boxes aren't even pink.  It has been around since 1959.

As a donut lover, I had to try them.

Summary? OMG.  I honestly didn't know a donut could be this good.  And, I eat a lot of donuts.  Just go.  Now.  Get a glazed raised donut. (Side note: I'd love to try their cinnamon rolls, they sound great too!)
Glazed Raised Dozen.
The host of the rotation brought in a box full of just simple glazed raised.  He also brought in a dozen assorted decorated cake donuts, with different frosting and toppings (sprinkles, nuts, coconut, etc).

I was headed for the cake donuts, when he told me the glazed raised are amazing and I really should go for them instead.

Plus, they were still hot!
Glazed Raised Donut. $0.95.
I'm not going to beat around the bush.

This was the best glazed raised donut I have ever had in my entire life.  No contest.

And not just because it was hot and ridiculously fresh.

It was lofty.  Moist.  Doughy in all the right ways.  Amazing tang to the base.  Well distributed sweet glaze coating.

Quite literally, everything about it was perfect.  I had no idea, no concept, that a simple donut could be this good.

As I was leaving the office, there were still a bunch left, so I snagged one to go, planning to waffle it the next day, as per my style with leftover donuts.  But I couldn't wait that long.

That night, after dinner, I tried a nibble.  Yup, still amazing.  A few seconds in the toaster oven and it was even better.  Wowzer.  Yes, even hours old, it was still the best.

I can't wait to somehow get my hands on these again.  Almost worth the 1-2 hour drive!
Glazed Raised Donuts. (September 2018).
I got my hands on them again, a few months later.

Still just as glorious.

This time, I took an extra and did save it until the next day.  I was skeptical about doing something other than waffling it, but a friend said these donuts are just as good, if not better, the next day if you very briefly warm in the microwave, so I humored him and tried it.

The verdict?  I agree.  

I think that because the donuts are so light and airy, not laden in oil, they do actually keep a day just fine.  And when you heat them gently, they don't just turn into oily sponges like other ones I've tried this with.  Microwave, 70% power, 15 seconds, and, well, magic happens.  Warm, light, fluffy, seriously, as good as new.

The only casualty is the glaze, that does somewhat run off, but, you can toss in regular sugar, coat with something else (I think chocolate glaze would go great on these!), or, gasp, just enjoy a more plain donut, and be very, very happy.
Vanilla Frosted Sprinkle Topped Cake Donut. $0.95.
After lunch, I saw the box of cake donuts were still untouched.  So ... I tried one.

I really didn't like it, and not just compared to the raised donuts.

The base had a spicing I just didn't care for.  I'm not sure what it was, but, whatever it was, it wasn't for me.

The toppings were fine.

I didn't mind though, really, the glazed were so good I didn't need to like the cake, and I can still rave about Stan's.
Stan's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Waffling Apple Fritters & Jelly Donuts ... with Foie Gras

Normally, I just post update reviews to the original reviews themselves, rather than starting a fresh review.

But, this one is too awesome to be an addendum.  Because it involves a number of my favorite things: foie gras. Donuts. And my obsession with waffling things (if you don't know what I'm talking about regarding that last point, go ahead and check out that master post, then return here).

So yes, this was just another day, with another batch of leftover donuts to waffle.  Nothing new for me.  This time, I had a huge apple fritter, and a small jelly donut.  I did several trials, culminating in one of my best creations yet.  Spoiler: it involves foie gras.

Version 1: Fritter a la Mode

I started simple, and normal, waffling my fritter, and of course, going a la mode.
Leftover Apple Fritter-Waffle!
How had I never waffled a fritter before?  It works wonderfully.  Particularly when served a la mode.

Success, for sure, basically, just like any glazed raised donut.
Original: HUGE apple fritter.
The fritters I get are massive.  I know many fritters are large, but these are dramatically large.  Easily 4 satisfying servings.  I usually only have half, in two servings throughout the day (breakfast and afternoon snack), and share the other half with someone.

The original form is excellent, fluffy interior, loaded with chunks of moist apple and tons of cinnamon, crispy exterior (particularly the bottom), well glazed.  Really, just an excellent fritter.
Leftover Chunk of Fritter.
When I do have some leftover for a second day, I usually just wrap it in foil and heat it up in the toaster oven, and it is wonderful.  No need to do more.  Warm, yummy, fried dough.  Yes.
Leftover Fritter: Into the waffle iron.
But finally I decided to deviate from my traditional re-heating method, as I *am* the one always evangelizing waffling after all!

Into the waffle iron it went, 350 degrees.
Leftover Fritter: Waffled.
It waffled easily as expected, although, like many glazed items, the glazed did melt off and fill up the grill plates.

Note to self: try panini'ing next time, per my lessons learned from panini trials with other donuts.
Leftover Fritter: a la mode!
I wanted this as a dessert, not breakfast, so I added a scoop of ice cream (Three Twin's Land of Milk and Honey), and it was perfect.

Crispy exterior "waffle", cinnamon and apple flavors from the fritter, sweet creamy complimentary ice cream.  Highly recommended, and I'll do this again (although panini it?)

Version 2: Jelly Donut a la Foie Gras.

I've raved before about the success of waffling a leftover jelly donut.  But this time ... I kicked things up many notches. Many, many notches.
Waffled Jelly Donut a la Foie Gras Torchon.
Yes, that's right.

I topped it with foie gras torchon instead of ice cream.  Because foie gras > ice cream?

It was more amazing than I even imagined.
The Original: Leftover Jelly Donut.
The original was a leftover jelly donut, from Bob's Donuts (my favorite jelly donut!).  It was great when I had it fresh (so fluffy! such great jam!) but it was actually my second donut of the day, so I saved a chunk for the next morning.  As always, it was a bit stale the next morning, so I had other plans for it.
Waffled Leftover Jelly Donut.
I've waffled jelly donuts many times now, so this wasn't new.  Waffle iron, 350 degrees, yadda yadda.  Out pops a lovely crispy waffle with hot jam inside.
Waffled Jelly Donut + Foie Gras Torchon?!
Normally, I top this with whipped cream.  Or ice cream.  Or just eat it as is.

But this time, I had a very different idea in mind.  The night before, I had been reading about foie gras funnel cake (that is, huge fried dough, topped with strawberry compote and fresh berries, and, well, foie gras).  It sounded amazing to me, and I wanted to quasi-recreate it at home.  

And I just happened to have foie gras torchon on hand.  Like ya do.
Waffled Jelly Donut a la Foie Gras Torchon.
I got a bit lazy and decided not to add more fruity elements, and just topped it with slices of foie gras torchon and a sprinkle of sea salt.

The donut-waffle was exactly as expected - crispy exterior, sweet molten jam inside.  The jam was exactly what the creation needed, the sweet element to compliment the foie.  It could have perhaps used a bit more, but this was more than enough.
Waffled Jelly Donut a la Foie Gras Torchon, melty.
Since the waffle was warm, the foie gras melted slightly.  It may not look that appetizing like this, but, I actually really liked the smooth, warm texture.

This was fantastic.  Crispy waffle, sweetness from the jam and glaze, savory creamy rich foie gras, sea salt to amp it all up.  The jam, glaze, and salt were key in tying it all together.

Absolute victory, better than I imagined it would be, and I highly recommend ... for when you happen to have leftover jelly donuts and foie gras?

Version #3: Apple Fritter Stuffed with Foie Gras & Mom's Strawberry Jam

What do you get when you combine all my experiments?  Perhaps you can see where this is headed.
Panini'ed Apple Fritter Sandwich with Foie Gras Torchon and Homemade Jam.
Yes, that's right.

Instead of using the waffle iron for the apple fritter, I used the panini press.  Instead of open-faced, I did it as a sandwich, and slathered my mom's homemade jam inside (since it wasn't a jelly donut, and I wanted the fruit component).

It was better than I ever imagined it could be.
Trial Run: Mini Foie Gras Torchon and Strawberry Jam Waffled Apple Fritter.
I did a quick trial run first.  By which I mean, I was impatient, and the waffle plates were still in.

Waffled fritter chunks, slathered with jam, stuffed with foie gras, sprinkled with sea salt.   Just as good as the jelly donut version, but this time, with higher quality jam.

I could tell this was going to be awesome.
The Original: Final Chunk of Apple Fritter.
For my final creation, I used my last chunk of apple fritter, still a decently sized piece.
Butterflied, and onto the grill.
I changed out to the panini plates, so that I wouldn't lose all my glaze.

Since I liked having the hot jam inside the jelly donut version, I decided to butterfly the chunk of fritter, so I could stuff it.
Panini'ed, Butterflied, Apple Fritter.
It grilled up perfectly, without losing much glaze.  And since I increased the surface area, it meant I had even more crispy, caramelized bits.

Oh yes.
Some Assembly Required.
Putting this together took a touch more work than most of my creations, but it was worth it.

I slathered each half with a bit of my mom's homemade strawberry jam (I'm sure she *never* imagined it would be used this way!), stuffed the foie gras torchon slices in the middle, sprinkled on sea salt, and stuck on the top.
Foie Gras Torchon & Strawberry Jam Apple Fritter Painini.
It took all my restraint to take a photo before I devoured it all.

Oh wow, it was good.  I suspected this would work well, but, even I was shocked at just how delicious it was.

Crispy, sweet, caramelized exterior.  Sweet jam that made me nostalgic for home.  Creamy, decadent, savory, rich, foie gras torchon.

OMG.  That is just about all I have to say about that.

It was incredible, and quite fun to eat as finger food, since I made it into a sandwich.  I might have slightly preferred it left open faced, or, perhaps, just stuffed with more foie gras, since the donut was the prevalent ingredient this way, but still, wow, it was just so good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Silver Trumpet, Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa

Silver Trumpet is the restaurant located at the Avenue of the Arts hotel in Costa Mesa.

Open for breakfast, brunch on weekends, lunch, dinner, and late night daily.
I recently stayed at the Avenue of the Arts, and since the location is a bit isolated for a quick breakfast elsewhere, I opted to get breakfast there every day during my 6 day stay.  

I also checked it out for cocktails and perhaps a late night dessert ...

Overall, there were some serious hits and some major misses.  Still, I was so pleased with several items, I recommend overall.


The majority of my visits were for breakfast, both dine-in and takeout.
Breakfast Menu.
The breakfast menu is broken into "Express Breakfast", "On the lighter side", "Made to order omelets", "Classics", and "Sides".

The "Express" options are a bit of an odd mix: oatmeal, breakfast burrito, continental (granola, yogurt, pastries), and standard breakfast platter of eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, potatoes.  I guess the point is, all fast things?

The "Lighter" side is smoothies, granola parfait, a smoked salmon bagel, and a farro bowl.  Omelets include a slew of fillings.

The "Classics" aren't really what I think of as classics, but, range from streak and eggs, to breakfast carbs (several varieties of pancakes and waffles - including a stuffed one and a savory bacon cheese one), to fancy egg dishes (crab benedict! lobster omelet!).  No french toast, no regular benedict (although they have smoked salmon for the bagel, and spinach for the lobster omelets, so I'm sure you could do eggs florentine or royale if you asked?).

And finally, sides: bacon, sausage, potatoes, eggs, toast, fruit, pastries.

Not a *huge* menu, but plenty large, and decent variety.

Dine In

My first visit was at 9am on a Monday.  There was only one other diner.  It was very quiet and tranquil, with great service, as you might expect given that it was so empty.  My other visits were for takeout, just to bring back to my room, but the restaurant never had more than a handful of occupied tables (except one morning, with a huge banquet).
Bright, light filled room.
The room is open and bright.
Outside Patio.
They also have a huge outdoor dining area, which looks awesome for lunchtime.
Place Setting.
Tables were set with standard silverware, cloth napkins, sweeteners, creamer, salt and pepper.
J. Gursey Cold Brew. $4.
I arrived right after a workout, so I was thrilled to see cold brew on the menu.  I wanted caffeine, but, hot coffee didn't sound great.

The cold brew was fine, but not iced, just room temp.  Still, very inoffensive, mild coffee.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes. $11.
"Cinnamon whipped cream, shaved chocolate."

Ok, the pancakes were amazing.  I was blown away.  I don't normally rave about pancakes (except IHOP, lol), but these were some of the best I've ever had.  Totally wasn't expecting this.

The serving: 3 huge pancakes, studded with chocolate chips, topped with "shaved chocolate" (uh, white chocolate chips?), with "cinnamon whipped cream" and syrup on the side.

These were pancake perfection. Crispy exterior and doughy interior. The distribution of the chocolate chips was absolutely perfect, and the chips were melty. The base had a nice tang to it.  I loved the pancakes.  They were delicious plain even, no butter, no syrup needed.

The top was a bit confusing, it was … white chocolate huge chips?  The menu said "shaved chocolate", but, um, these were chips.  And white chocolate.  Very, very sweet.  I love white chocolate, and I loved how they melted into the pancakes, but, it was a bit of a strange combo, and actually just too much sweet.

On the side, maple syrup and what the menu called cinnamon whipped cream. The syrup certainly didn’t seem like real maple syrup, which I don’t mind, but I know some folks do. The whipped cream was … odd. It wasn’t fluffy, and it didn’t taste like cinnamon as advertised. I think it might have been the mascarpone whipped cream that goes with the stuffed waffles instead.

So, the menu wasn't *quite* accurate, but I didn't care.  I loved the pancakes.  They tied for first place for my favorite item on the menu.

The serving was huge for $11 at a hotel restaurant too.   Far more reasonably priced than standard.


The service in the restaurant was fine, but I opted to just get food for takeout the rest of the days, preferring to sit in my own space, given that my room had a lovely dining area.  Takeout was easy, always took only about 15 minutes, and came nicely packaged.  But highly inconsistent in how they choose to present dishes.

Over the course of the week, I sampled all areas of the menu - the sweet breakfast carbs, the egg dishes, the healthy smoothies.

The egg dishes weren't winners, but, the breakfast carbs were mostly great (just like the earlier pancakes).


My room did have a Keurig in it, but I didn't really care for the type of k-cups provided, so, I ordered coffee most mornings.
J. Gursey Cold Brew. $4. 
My cold brew for takeout came with ice, which I greatly preferred to the room temperature version I was served at the restaurant.  No idea why done differently for takeaway.

Still, not great cold brew, a bit harsh and acidic.
J. Gursey Coffee (Regular, Decaf). $3.95 Each.
I moved on to hot coffee after the lackluster cold brew.

The first day, it was much better than the cold brew.  Minus a few points for being barely lukewarm (I think they put the coffee in cups right when my order was placed, and then it sat there while the food was being prepared ... boo!)

The regular was really, really inoffensive coffee.  I mean that in a good way.  It was just really decently fine coffee.  Not amazing depth of flavor, but not harsh, not acidic, not watery, not too strong.  Really, just decent.

The decaf was also reasonable, again, not acidic, no decaf funk, but it was more watered down.

Overall though, both were surprisingly good ... the first day.

The next day, the regular coffee was piping hot (as in, too hot to drink!) but the decaf was barely warm.  The regular was fine, a bit more harsh than the previous day, but still fine.  The decaf though ... wasn't very good at all.  It was very strong and bitter, in a "way too over steeped" kind of way, as if it had been sitting there for a long time.

The final day, both cups arrived, unmarked.  "Which is the decaf?", I inquired.  She pointed to one, but was clearly unsure.  I kinda think they were both regular.  Both were piping hot at least.
J. Gursey Coffee (Regular, Decaf). $3.95 Each.
The second day, perhaps someone decided that decaf drinkers don't like coffee as much?  Lol, the decaf came in a smaller cup.

Both coffees were hot and back to being good.

Clearly, there are some consistency issues here, likely from just how long the coffee has been sitting around.
Smoothie. $7.
I never order smoothies.  But I did one morning.

Why?  The hotel has these posters everywhere with the smoothies on them.  They look so good!  And, one of my co-workers who was staying in the hotel told me how much she liked hers.  So finally, one morning, after an evening of way too much over-indulgence in fried food at Hatch, I opted for a smoothie (ok, ok, to be fair, I had the waffle with mascarpone cream and berries too ... which I didn't expect to love and thought I'd mostly just steal the berries from!).

I'm glad I hedged by bets with the waffle though, because, I didn't care for the smoothie.

It was watery.  I didn't taste soy (I picked this one for the soy milk, I love soy milk).  It did taste like berries.

I also expected the "green tea" to be matcha-style, so, an intense flavor.  But instead, I think it was just regular mild green tea, I didn't taste it at all.

Overall, watery fruit juice that was vaguely milky.  I didn't like it.


Stuffed Waffle #1. $10.
"Macerated berries, whipped mascarpone cream."

Ok, a few things to start.

First, "Stuffed Waffle", this was not.  "Waffle topped with berries with a side of whipped cream", it was.  Maybe in the restaurant they stuff it though?  Anyway, I was glad they did this, as the whipped cream didn't get everywhere in the container, and the waffle stayed crispy.

Second, I have strong opinions on waffles.  And really, I don't eat many actual breakfast waffles (liege waffles are the exception).  In general, I find American Belgian breakfast waffles highly mediocre.  They are usually kinda flimsy, not crispy and caramelized (obviously, again, not liege waffles), and just not actually interesting.

So why would I order this?

Well, the pancakes were amazing, so I was quasi-inspired by that success.  But really, the answer is far more complicated.  I went out to a huge, indulgent dinner of fried food the night before with my co-workers (at Hatch!), and I wasn't even remotely hungry.  I was stuffed, and I felt gross.  I went to the gym, and felt too food hungover to really work out.  So, I decided it was a good day to try 1) the smoothie and 2) get some fruit.  But I couldn't order just fruit, the side fruit salad was melon and pineapple, which I'm allergic to.  And they wouldn't let me order just berries.  So ... I went for the waffle, to steal the berries (and, um, the cream!) and planned to at least try the waffle, have my curiosity satisfied, and mostly discard it.

I was shocked by how good the waffle was, particularly as, well, it looked like any waffle.  And it was takeout, only a few minutes in a box, but still, not fresh off the iron.  And, they didn't provide me any syrup nor butter.  My heart kinda sank when I saw it, to be honest.

And yet, I really liked it.  It was bigger than most Belgian waffles, actually thicker (see next photo), than the standard ones.  And a wider diameter.  A really, really big waffle.  And yet ... I devoured the entire thing somehow.

It was crispy at the outside contact points with the iron, and inside was really doughy, more yeasted than usual.  The flavor was good.  Just like the pancakes, I was impressed, they clearly don't use the generic waffle/pancake mix most places do.  I couldn't get over how nicely doughy it was.

I finished it.  I finished it plain.  I didn't actually want syrup or butter it turned out, given how my stomach was feeling.  But the plain waffle?  That was perfect.

As for the berries, what I thought I wanted, the blueberries were fine, large juicy berries, but the strawberries were really bitter, not very ripe, and not good.

The whipped mascarpone was definitely the same as what came with my pancakes, and I enjoyed my side of blueberries and cream.

Overall, very very good, quite the surprise.  Tied for first place with the chocolate chip pancakes.
Stuffed Waffle #2. $10.
The waffle was so good, I got it again.

This time, it lived up to the "stuffed" name.  It looked way more impressive this way, but, this actually wasn't as good for takeout, and I'm glad they did it differently the previous time.  The whipped cream, as I kinda expected, made the waffle inside very soggy (the top waffle stayed nice and crisp though, since it wasn't really touching, help up by the stakes.

However, the whipped cream seemed fluffier this time, and there was far, far more of it than when I just had the little container on the side.  This aspect was much better.

The fruit was also the same - awesome blueberries, huge, fresh, juicy, flavorful, and horrible sour strawberries.

The top waffle was again a thing of glory, very crispy on the outside, although, it was more cooked this time, almost a bit burnt.  In this photo, you can see what I meant by how huge it is, far thicker than the standard Belgian waffle molds.  The bottom waffle was soggy, and although I didn't prefer that, it soaked up all the whipped cream, and once slathered with syrup (more on that soon), I didn't really care so much.

Overall, quite different from my first waffle, successful in different ways, and again, somehow devoured.  Not *as* good as the previous one, but still, enjoyed.
Maple Syrup, Butter, "Maple Syrup".
This second time, I did ask for maple syrup and butter to come with my waffle, just to try something different, and, because I expected that it would come the same way it did last time, that is, packaged up separately.  I was assured, "It always has butter and syrup with it".  I told the server that no, actually, mine didn't last time. (This is the same server who told me a completely wrong answer about the pastries ...).

I was amused by what I was given.  Two containers of butter, pretty normal.  But for syrup ... I had one of their own to-go containers with syrup in it, clearly the same sticky fake stuff that came with my pancake.  I'm sorry, this is definitely not real maple syrup, the flavor and consistency are just off.  Anyway, that is what I expected to be given.

But then I also had not one, not two, but three individual Dickinson's brand real maple syrup.  It was much better!

In the end, I'm glad I asked for the butter and syrup.  I didn't use the butter, but, the Dickinson's syrup was awesome to slather the soggy waffle in.
Classic Buttermilk Pancakes. $10.
"Maple syrup, seasonal berries."

My final morning, I planned to get the chocolate chip pancakes again, since I liked them so much.  But ... at last minute, I swapped out to the classic pancakes, wanting to see how they did the classics, and craving the buttermilk tang.  And, they came with berries, and I was feeling like some fruit.

The pancakes were the biggest disappointment of all my visits.  They were exactly what you'd expect from any random restaurant.  Although large diameter, they were thin.  No buttermilk flavor.  Kinda soggy.  Highly, highly lackluster.

The menu said they came with seasonal berries, but, mine did not.  I asked about this (I knew to check my order before leaving the restaurant by now), and I was told, "Oh, maybe that is a topping?"  Not that that explained much.  She did however offer to get me a side of berries.

They did come with a jar of syrup, the same real Dickinson's syrup I got with my waffles.  No butter though, so I was glad I had saved the leftover from my waffles.

Overall, very, very, very mediocre, and very, very disappointing.  Second to worst breakfast.
Side of Berries.
Since I asked about the berries, I was provided a side of berries, the same ones that come stuffed in the waffle.  And again, the blueberries were fine, the strawberries sour.

I also asked for whipped cream on the side, it was provided in the same tiny container as the first time I got the waffles.

I was happy enough with my berries and cream.
Mini Pastries. $3.
It is a bit surprising that it took until my 4th visit to finally try a pastry from Silver Trumpet.  I was tempted nearly every day.  Like with the smoothie, I finally opted to add on a pastry when I went for a savory option (lobster omelet) to hedge my bets.

The menu simply said, "Mini Pastries".  I asked what they were that day, and I was told "I know one is blueberry, one is plain, and one is ... I think pecan.  Yeah, pecan.".  I thought that when I ordered "mini pastries" for $3, that I was selecting a single type of pastry, so I said, "ok, great pecan!"

You can guess my confusion when 1) my box had 3 pastries, 2) I was charged $4, and 3) there was no pecan pastry (nor blueberry, nor plain).

I cleared up the charge that didn't match the menu, but decided that since it did say "pastries" maybe you really do get 3 for $3?  Although, the "mini croissant" is also $3, and I can't imagine that is 3 ... maybe they just gave me all 3 since they didn't have pecan?  I dunno.

Anyway, the baked goods were about as good as any hotel breakfast buffet baked goods.  I'll give them a few token points for heating them up, they were nice and warm, but, none of these were very good.  

They clearly weren't blueberry, plain, and pecan, but rather, cinnamon roll, custard danish, raspberry danish.  Lols.

The two danishes were exactly the same, crispy due to being warmed up, but not flaky nor buttery nor good pastry.  Both fillings were congealed goo, again, due to being warmed up, and neither was particularly good.  The raspberry one had seeds and was fruity, but, meh to congealed raspberry goo.  The custard was fine, but again, pretty boring, had a strange film on top, and not much custard.

The cinnamon roll had great cinnamon flavor, but the pastry was again lackluster.  Crispy from being served warm, but, not flaky nor butter.

I'd skip all of these in the future.


I can't *just* eat pancakes and waffles every day, particularly when I travel as much as I do, so, I did finally try some savory items too.
Granola Parfait. $7.
"House-made almond and raisin granola, plain yogurt, seasonal berries, honey."

One healthy inspired morning, I opted for a yogurt and granola parfait (ok, who are we kidding, I got this on the side with my pancakes, to have a little protein, and likely to save as a snack for later).

The menu again was a bit ... inaccurate.  I believe the granola may have been house-made, but, it certainly didn't have any raisins, and I didn't detect any almonds.  Not that I mind - I don't actually like raisins.

The assembly of the parfait in this container made it nearly impossible to enjoy.  The yogurt was plain, thinner style, generic plain yogurt, not really my thing.  I wanted the sweetness of the honey, but, the honey was entirely in the bottom of the cup, along with a few berries.  The cup was full, and large, and you simply couldn't get to the honey until at least half the parfait had been consumed.  Minus a point for this.

The fruit was minimal, just 2 each of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries on top, and I think 1 each down with the honey.  Minus a point for this.

And finally, the granola, the layer between the berries and yogurt.  This parfait clearly was assembled in advance; I think they took it from the grab-n-go gift shop next door rather than making a fresh one.  The granola was very, very soggy, clearly had been in contact with the yogurt for a long time.  Minus more points.

So overall ... generic thin yogurt, not much fruit, soggy granola, impossible-to-reach honey.  Not worth the $7.  But, all that said, it did somehow satisfy me a bit.  The best of the savory.
CALIFORNIA CRAB BENEDICT (No Avocado, Sub Breakfast Potatoes for Melons). $15.
"Poached eggs, english muffin, crab meat, hollandaise sauce, avocado, chives, served with fresh fruit."

Eggs aren't really my thing.  Nor are english muffins.  But ... crab {link} is!  And hollandaise.  I got this mostly intending to eat the crab and hollandaise, and at least try out the rest of it.

Since I’m allergic to avocado, I had to get it without the avocado, the "California" element. And since I’m allergic to melons, I had to sub out the side fruit salad that normally comes with it, as it was exclusively melons and pineapple. My server recommended the breakfast potatoes, so, I went for those.

I didn’t ask for it this way, but it came with the hollandaise on the side, which I appreciated, and a container of ketchup (and adorable little bottles of tabasco!)

The english muffin was a standard english muffin, soggy though (from being in the box, even for a short time), nicely buttered. Not much to say about this. Not house made.

The eggs were poached, and not very well.  As you can see, the white was slimy still around the yolk.

The crab, what I was in this for, came as a decent amount, but, it was fishy. I didn’t care for it at all, which made me very sad.

But the hollandaise? Delicious! Creamy, thick, good flavor. I tried to mask the fishiness of the crab by dunking it generously in the hollandaise, but, it didn’t really work.

The potatoes were actually pretty good, chunks of red potato, nicely seasoned, with peppers and onions. These were good dipped in the hollandaise, particularly the pieces that were crispier. I wouldn’t get them again, but, they were good enough.
Stuffed Waffle & "Breakfast Sausage"?
To go with my waffle, I also ordered a side of breakfast sausage, to be quasi-responsible and have some protein.  I also adore sausage and maple syrup, so, I figured this was a good time to try the sausage, since I'd have syrup.

I opened the box in my room to find ... potatoes.  Doh.  I had a few, they were the same as before, good onions and peppers sauted in the mix, tasty dunked in the maple syrup, but, more breakfast carbs was the opposite of what I was going for.

My slip clearly said "sausage", so, I called down to ask about it.
Breakfast Sausage (Side). $5.
My sausage was delivered to my room soon after.

The sausages were really well prepared, super crispy, great snap to the casing.  The inside was fairly flavorful, well seasoned, not strangely gristly.  Decent breakfast sausage.  It went well with my maple syrup as I expected.

It was however very, very oily, and since it arrived so long after my waffle, I was already too stuffed to really enjoy it.  And I prefer patties.

But still, good sausage, and a very generous serving.
Lobster Omelet. $17.

"Garlic aioli, spinach, cherry tomatoes, gruyere cheese, served with fresh fruit."

Again, I'm not 1) an egg eater, 2) a savory breakfast eater, or 3) that into lobster, but ... given just how good the sweet breakfast items were, I wanted to give the savories another chance.

The lobster omelet was better than the crab benedict, but, I still wouldn't order it again.

The omelet was not a standard american stuffed omelet, instead, it was actually just a plain omelet, with toppings, rather than fillings.

The omelet was just a hard dense blob.  It wasn't nicely layered, it wasn't seasoned, it was just ... a big block of egg.  I quickly moved on.

The toppings though were pretty tasty.  Steamed spinach, colorful cherry tomatoes, and lobster meat, mixed with what the menu said was garlic aioli.  I didn't taste garlic, but, it was a creamy mayo-like substance.  The lobster was a decent portion, chunks of assorted pieces, all well cooked, not rubbery, not fishy, good texture.  Good for lobster I guess, but again, I'm not a huge lobster lover (crab is so much better!)  Not what I normally have for breakfast, and I likely would have enjoyed this filling more at lunch as a lobster roll.

I did really like the spinach and tomatoes in the aioli though.  The tomatoes were assorted colors, ripe, fresh, tasty.  And the spinach soaked up all the aioli.  Again, not my type of breakfast, but, tasty.

The gruyere was basically non-existent, a few tiny strands, but, again, I think this was fine, seafood and cheese is always a bit of an odd pairing.

Like the benedict, the omelet comes with melon salad, and so I asked what options I had to substitute.  Only the potatoes were an option, and, although I liked them before, I wasn't really in the mood for more potatoes.  I asked about subbing a cheaper item (e.g. a pastry) but I was told no, only toast or potatoes.  So, minus a point for lack of flexibility on the side.

Dessert & Cocktails

Several nights I returned to the hotel pretty worn out from long work days, and a creative cocktail seemed like just the thing I needed.  Or, uh, a dessert.  Because, well, I'm me.

I wasn't up for sitting in the bar though, so, much like breakfast, I opted to just take back to my room.  For cocktails, I was happy they let me just walk back with the regular cocktail glass, no takeout packaging needed.
The cocktail list at Silver Trumpet is impressive.

The first page was seasonal cocktails, with fun things like a "Pumpkin Spiced Up Latte", with kahlua, half and half, vodka, and of course, pumpkin spice.  Not what I wanted, but it also had a number of cocktails that sounded great to me. 

Like the "Cranberry Kiss" (whiskey/cranberry sauce/vanilla/lemon juice/soda water/allspice/rosemary) or the Tamarind Margarita or the "Boots & Pants" with tequilla/triple sec/st. germain/passionfruit puree/lime/chiles/sprite.  For the Ferbet based "Winter's Tale Mule".  Or the "Fig Fashioned".  More on the later two soon.  The main point?  Creative cocktails, and many were whiskey, gin, or tequilla based, always my go-tos.
Signature Cocktails.
But then there were the Signature Cocktails, I think ones that rotate less frequently, but also full of tempting options (a raspberry and ginger beer mule?)
"Fernet branca / st. george spiced pear liqueur / lemon juice / honey-ginger syrup / soda / candied ginger / cloves / orange."

For my first drink, I asked about the two mules (one gin based with raspberry and ginger beer and one fernet based and more seasonal).  The server, without hesitation, recommended the Winter's Tale.

It came served in a classic copper cup, garnished with a skewer with candied ginger, and a dried orange slice.  Great presentation.

But, I didn't really care for it.  The honey and ginger syrup didn't come through, nor did the cloves.  It mostly just tasted like ... well, Fernet.

Oh well.
"four roses bourbon / fig infusion / dash of maple syrup / black walnut bitters / brandied cherry / orange peel."

My next cocktail was more successful.

A very booze-forward drink, with a huge cube of ice in the center.  I can't say that I tasted "fig" exactly, nor maple syrup, nor black walnut, but the flavor was fairly complex, and it complimented the bourbon well.  Bitter and sweet, nice to sip on throughout the evening.

I of course loved the brandied cherry garnish.
Winter Dessert Menu.
The dessert menu had recently been switched over to a winter version.  The servers were pretty excited about the options.

The selection was only 7 items, but, it there was good diversity, ranging from a simple affogato to a slightly more adventurous flavored creme brulee (earl grey) to a Instagram-worthy "S'mores Whoppie Pie" (deconstructed of course).  And then there were the three I had my eyes on: warm sticky toffee cake, warm apple pudding cake, and a seasonal galette.

My visit was a week after being in London, where I got a bit sticky toffee obsessed (mostly, desperately seeking out a good version, or, trying to understand if I really like this dessert in the first place), so, that called out (although, I did kinda overdose on sticky toffee in London ...).

But the apple pudding cake sounded fascinating, a warm dessert, and it would have salted caramel gelato, apple crisp, and "spiced rum milk sauce" with it.  I don't love apples, but, the other elements of this were enough to draw me in.

And then, the seasonal galette, with promised "buttery and flaky pastry, brown butter molasses caramel, mascarpone whipped cream".  I was most excited for that really, but then found out it was pumpkin, which wasn't quite as fun.
"Toffee sauce, mascarpone whipped cream, medjool dates."

In the end, I went for the sticky toffee.  I ordered it to take back to my room, which resulting in ... creative packaging.  A coffee cup!

The server even apologized as he came out with it.  "She wanted it to stay warm for you", he said.  "But I promise it will still taste great."

I laughed, and told him it wasn't really Instagram-worthy now, but, I wasn't upset.  He handed over the very large, tall coffee mug, with an explanation that the cake was in the bottom, then the sauce and whipped cream on top. 
Sticky Toffee Sauce and Whipped Mascarpone!
I'll admit, I expected way more of a disaster when I opened the lid.

This was really quite reasonable, a big scoop of the whipped mascarpone on top, lightly melted from contact with the warm cake.  I think this was the same as the whipped mascarpone I had with my morning pancakes and waffles, and it worked better here.  With the waffles and pancakes, I sorta wanted lighter, fluffier, standard whipped cream, but with this, the thicker, richer nature helped cut the sweet of the dessert, and somewhat mirrored more like a clotted cream.  The large scoop somehow easily vanished, even though I thought I might not finish it all.  Oops.

And then there was the sticky toffee sauce.   Sooooooo much sticky toffee sauce.  You might be able to tell from the photo, this was covered in ... nearly an inch(?) of just liquid toffee sauce.  Warm liquid toffee sauce.  Very, very sweet toffee sauce.  It was good, it was sweet, and it was a total ridiculous amount.  The first few bites I had were just sauce and whipped mascarpone, even as I tried to dig for the cake.

But much like the whipped mascarpone, it too disappeared.  Once I reached the cake, and broke it up a little, it soaked in quickly.  Ridiculous, and way too much sugar, but, it did its job.
The Cake!
And finally, the cake.  I'm not entirely sure how they got it in the cup in the way they did - it wasn't a slice or chunk of cake stuffed into the round cup, rather, it really did fill the cup, as if it had been baked in it.  There was tons of cake.  I've seen Instgram photos of the portion served in the restaurant, and it is normally about the same diameter as what I had, but, only about two inches tall.  This was ... well, about 70% of the very tall cup.  So much cake!

The cake was fine, fairly standard sticky toffee cake.  It was moist and sweet, made much, much moister and much, much sweeter as it soaked up the toffee sauce.  It was warm.  Studded with a few chunks of dates.

Overall, this was a good execution of sticky toffee cake, far better than the one I had at the famed Hawksmoor in London, on par with Gordon Ramsey's version at Heddon Street Kitchen (stay tuned!).  I liked the use of dates in it.  I think I'd prefer a scoop of vanilla gelato with it though, rather than the cream, just because I really like warm desserts with cold ice cream.
Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato