Friday, February 15, 2019

Pringles - Flavors from Around the World

You know Pringles.  Yes, the chips that come in a tube.  Somehow I've never reviewed these, I'm not sure how.

But this isn't a review of the Pringles you likely know.  Instead, I'm focusing on flavors of Pringles not available in the United States.

Australian Flavors

In Australia, Pringles, like most chips, come in different flavors than we have in the US.  Sure, they have Original, Sour Cream & Onion, and BBQ, but they also have ... Sausage & Onion.   And of course, Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream and multiple chicken flavors (Chicken Salt, Roast Chicken, Chicken Kebab).   I still don't understand why they have so many chicken flavors, and we literally have none (not just in Pringles, just across the board).
"Discover the incredible flavour of Pringles. Our chips are uniquely shaped and perfectly seasoned! Experience the irresistible crunch and delicious flavour in every bite. "
Anyway, the form factor is exactly the same as Pringles I know from the US, just, well, more interesting flavors.
Chicken Kebab.
"Try our NEW Chicken Kebab Flavour! A delicious combination of your favourite Chicken Kebab flavours."

So, um, I don't like chicken.  Not the texture, the (lack of) flavor, etc.  But I still thought these sounded crazy, and wanted to try.

I certainly wouldn't have ever guessed "chicken kebab" if asked blindly to taste these and identify the flavor.

Did I taste chicken?  No.  Did I taste salt?  Yes, lots.  Did I taste seasoning?  Yup, but not a particular flavor I could pinpoint.

They were salty, savory, seasoned standard Pringles.  Well coated in whatever the seasoning was, as most Pringles are.

Not much more to say here, I guess I'm glad I tried them?

Irish Flavors

Ireland also has some interesting options.  They too have chicken flavors (Roast Chicken & Herbs), plus Sweet Chilli (no sour cream though), and an amusingly named "Cheesey Cheese".
Prawn Cocktail.
"Prawn Cocktail Flavour tastes like you went deep sea diving for treasure and didn’t find the treasure but found a wealth of prime jumbo shrimp instead. Then a master chef perfectly seasoned them, broiled them and served them up with cocktail sauce for you (and famous cool people) who praised your shell fishing skills. That’s how you live the dream with ‘em."

Uh.  I can't say that is what I tasted.  Not the provided description (I definitely didn't taste a master chef praising my fishing skills!), nor the general concept of "prawn cocktail".

I'm not sure what I did taste though.  Something zesty.  Seasoning, yes.  Not fishy.

I think it was fine, but, certainly not as advertised.
Read More...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Kara's Cupcakes

Update Reviews, 2018

I got over cupcakes a while ago.  And cake, generally.  I just haven't been into either for years, really.  And then I went to New York, and somehow had insanely good cake many times.

My desire to start trying cakes and cupcakes was renewed, so when I was passing through the microkitchen at my office and there was a box of Kara's Cupcakes, I actually stopped to get one, knowing I had liked some of Kara's offerings before, but that was *years* ago, literally, back in 2012 when Kara's had ... not nearly as many locations, when Kara herself was often at artisan's markets and did demos, and you certainly didn't find the cupcakes at the airport!  Yes, Kara's Cupcakes has done well.
Cupcakes!
The box had an assortment, and none were labelled, so I just picked two.  It turned out, I picked poorly the first time.

Luckily for me, a month later, the same thing happened.  And I did much better that time!
Sweet Chocolate (November 2018).
"Chocolate cupcake with a sugary
 sweet chocolate frosting."

I didn't know what I was picking when I picked this.  There were several chocolate cupcakes, all decorated differently.  I assumed they were all the same, but the others turned out to be "Chocolate Velvet" with a bittersweet buttercream and Fluer de Sel with caramel filling and chocolate ganache frosting.  Doh.  I picked the boring one!

It was not a good cupcake.

The cake itself was dry.  No moisture, not a good crumb.  Barely any chocolate flavor.

The frosting looked great, fluffy, but it too was lacking chocolate flavor.  Just sweet.

The decoration was tasty?
Meyer Lemony Lemon (November 2018).
"Vanilla cupcake with a tart lemon filling
 and lemon buttercream frosting."

But more in the world of "I didn't know what I was doing when I picked this one", is this.  Lemon?  I really tend to dislike lemon desserts.  Doh.  I thought it was vanilla.

I really did not like this cupcake.  Not at all.

The cake was dry, plain.  "Vanilla", but I didn't taste vanilla.  Just plain.

Inside was the unexpected lemon curd filling, really tart, but also eggy, exactly the type of lemon curd item I really dislike.

The buttercream on top was a bit oily, too heavy on the butter, and only vaguely lemony.

Sadness, I really did not enjoy eating this at all.
Kara's Karot. (December 2018).
"Moist carrot cupcake with a silky soft 
cream cheese frosting." 

The carrot cake cupcake was better.

Very moist, loaded with shredded carrot and plump raisins, but, aggressively spiced for my taste.  The frosting was thick, rich, cream cheese frosting.

Overall nicely done, just, too spiced for me.
Red Velvet. (December 2018).
"Red velvet cake with a silky 
smooth cream cheese frosting." 

The red velvet though I *really* liked, which shocked me as I don't generally care for red velvet.

The cake itself had a real depth of flavor (buttermilk?), a bit of tang.  Great cake.

It had the same very rich, very cream cheese forward frosting as the carrot.

Success.
Raspberry Dazzle (December 2018).
"Chocolate cupcake filled with a raspberry cream filling
 and sweet raspberry vanilla frosting."

I handed this one off to a co-worker, thinking it was just a chocolate cake with vanilla filling.  Oops!

I tried the frosting that was on the edge of the box though, and it was *extremely* sweet.  I didn't taste the raspberry though, just, sugar!  It was very fluffy frosting however.
Seasonal Special: Peppermint Twist. (December 2018).
"Chocolate cupcake with a sweet chocolate frosting, sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies."

This cupcake is essentially the "Sweet Chocolate", just topped with the crushed peppermint candies.  I didn't like the sweet chocolate before, as the cake was dry and the frosting lacking depth, but I wanted to give it another try.

It was better than expected.  In particular, I actually really liked the sweet chocolate frosting this time, it was super sweet, but I liked that, and it was decently rich and fudgy.  I liked the peppermint candies on top too for crunch and flavor.

The cake however was till lackluster, quite dry and flavorless.

Original Review, December 2012

This past Saturday, Williams-Sonoma, one of my favorite places to watch cooking demos, hosted a fantastic sounding demo: Kara, from Kara's Cupcakes!

I've been familiar with Kara's for some time.  A few years ago, I was in charge of organizing a team bonding offsite, with a very small budget.  I looked around for options for fun things we could do, and found that our limited budget didn't cover most of the ideas we had.  But then I discovered that Kara's offered cupcake filling and decorating classes.  I was sold.  I didn't care that my co-workers were all male and may not have cared quite as much about cupcakes as I do.  And they probably had little interest in decorating them.  But ... I was in charge :)

It was a really fun event, we learned the different techniques for frosting cupcakes, and how to properly fill them.  At the end, we had a contest where we all decorated cupcakes, submitted our best works, and then voted on the best one.  The winner received a Kara's Cupcake T-shit, which he still proudly wears to this day.  I think everyone was surprised by how much fun they had.  And, we got to eat a lot of cupcakes!  I tried many flavors at the event, bought a bunch more to take home with me, but sadly don't have tasting notes from back then.
Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting and candied walnuts. 
I also attended a demo Kara did at the Ferry Building last November, where she made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and candied walnuts.  I didn't take notes then either, but did snap a photo and remember raving about it, particularly the delicious candied walnuts.

Anyway, back to the Williams-Sonoma demo.  I was excited to attend, but I got held up at a previous event, and didn't arrive until 25 minutes into the time slot.  I expected that she'd still be doing the demo, but as I rushed up the stairs at Williams-Sonoma, I encountered a mob of people with sticky fingers and frosting on their faces.  On no!  I turned the final corner to reveal what I feared: the demo was over.  Luckily, they still had some cupcakes and allowed me to have one, even though I hadn't seen the demo.  I'm grateful for that, and very much enjoyed my cupcake, but I wish I'd seen the demo.  She was talking about making gluten free cupcakes, and I have a number of friends who have been experimenting with gluten free diets for assorted health reasons, so I was interested to hear more about what has worked for her, since I know many people say her gluten free cupcakes are the best around.  Next time ...
Gluten Free Sweet Vanilla.  Mini.  $2.
"Gluten free vanilla cupcake with sweet madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting."

The cake had a lovely vanilla flavor to it, far better than most things labelled "vanilla", this was real vanilla, not just plain.  The cake was very uniform, which I didn't love, since I enjoy having a crispy top and moist interior, but I think this is more appealing to most people.  It wasn't particularly moist nor dry, just somewhere in the middle.  I would have never known it was gluten free.

The frosting was very sweet, fluffy.  There was a ton of it.  I actually couldn't really eat all of it with the cake, there was just too much, but I finished it by the spoonful afterwards, because it was quite delicious!

By far the best gluten free cupcake I've had, and my second favorite gluten free baked good ever (behind the crazy awesometastic good sour cream coffee cake from Mariposa).

Notes from previous tasting:  I’d never know this was gluten free!  Dense cupcake, not particularly moist, lots of frosting, ratio of frosting to cupcake was 1:1, a little much.  Frosting was very sweet.
Pumpkin Spice: Pumpkin Cupcake, Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Fondant Turkey.
Kara did another demo at the Ferry Building, again in November.  She was an enthusiastic speaker, and  definitely embraced the cold, rainy Saturday morning, claiming it was a great time of year to get in the mood to bake.

The cake was not my style, but fairly moist, with some pumpkin flavor.  The frosting was delicious cream cheese based.  On top was a chocolate decoration, that was one of the more tasty pieces of fondant I've had, as it was chocolate flavored.

I didn't really love this cupcake, but I did really enjoy Kara's demo.  She was clear, well spoken, and informative.  I picked up a number of tips, particularly regarding the correct temperature of things when baking (eggs, cream cheese at room temperature with mixing, but then refrigerate your frosting before piping).

An enjoyable demo, with a fairly tasty end!
Chocolately Chocolate Peppermint: Chocolate Cupcake, Sweet Chocolate Frosting, Peppermint Candies, Fondant Logo, Mini.
And Kara did yet another demo, this time at Macy's.  This woman is a demo machine!  As in her previous demos, she was clear spoken, and really informative.  She demoed a special seasonal cupcake,  one of two peppermint varieties they are currently offering.

The cake was a nice moist chocolate cake.  The frosting was very fluffy, super chocolately, and sweet.  I'm never a huge fan of chocolate cupcakes nor chocolate frosting, so this wasn't going to be a favorite of mine, but it was nicely done.  I loved the peppermint for flavor and crunch, but didn't think it went that well with the chocolate.  They also have a "Peppermint Twist" cupcake that uses white chocolate frosting, which sounds far more appealing to me.
Chocolate Coconut Mini.  $2.
I was out shopping, and it turned out that the store I visited was having a trunk sale.  So they had champagne and custom cupcakes!  A very sweet and pleasant surprise for me!

They had a large selection of cupcakes, but none were labelled, so I had to guess what I was getting.  They all had the logo of the store on them.  I liked the fact that this was rolled in coconut, and assumed it was just a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting, in addition to the coconut flakes.  I was right about the cake, it was their standard chocolate cake, fairly moist, but still just not my style.  The frosting however was delicious!  It wasn't just plain vanilla, it was coconut cream cheese!  It was incredibly sweet, but seriously tasty, and the extra coconut on top made it even better.  I'd seriously just eat that frosting by the spoonful.
Strawberry Cream Mini.
"Vanilla cupcake with strawberry cream filling and cream cheese frosting".

Another day, another great cooking demo by Kara, this time at the Ferry Building as part of the Saturday Cuesa market.

As always, I didn't care for the cake, it was just a simple, homogeneous vanilla cake, and I prefer to have a crispy top.  The filling inside however was amazing!  Bursting with strawberry flavor and creamy.  And the cream cheese frosting, creamy, flavorful, delicious.  And as always, I even liked the fondant decoration.  I'd gladly just eat the top and filling.


[ No Photos ]
A few months ago, a friend had a party, and someone brought Kara's Cupcakes, so I have those tasting notes below, but they are only of a few of the ones I've tried.
  • Meyer Lemony Lemon.  $3.25: "Vanilla cupcake with a tart lemon filling and lemon buttercream frosting." Tasting notes: Dense vanilla cupcake that wasn’t very flavorful.  Lemon filling was tart but not very plentiful.  I thought the frosting was vanilla, as it didn’t really have lemon flavor.
  • Fluer de Sel.  $3.25.  "Chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, chocolate ganache frosting and fleur de sel".  Tasting notes: Very moist chocolate cupcake, decent chocolate frosting, fleur de sel added nice touch.  Caramel filling gooey and went well with chocolate.  Not bad.
Lemonade!  $3.
What is more fun with cupcakes than another childhood treat ... lemonade!  I actually thought it was a little too much sweet to pair with a cupcake, but the lemonade was wonderfully tart and not just a sweet overload.  Pretty tasty if you are wanting a lemonade.
Kara's Cupcakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Read More...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Breakfast at The Lambs Club, NYC

A hotel restaurant.  Why would I bother?  In New York City of all places, where good food abounds.  And why one with an Iron Chef as the exec chef, which so often can just mean a celebrity name stamped on it? 

Well, because I was staying in the hotel, and after lazily trying the breakfast the first morning due to jetlag and rain, I was convinced this was a quality venue.  Turns out, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian really does care about his restaurant - I even saw him when I was there!

The result?  The Lambs Club, at least for breakfast, is really quite good.  The little touches that went into the composition of the dishes, the serving style (warm syrup!), and the housemade pastries (really good!), were quickly apparent.  I ate there every morning during my stay.

Setting

Entrance.
The Lamb's Club is located within the Chatwal Hotel, with signage matches the hotel facade (or, perhaps, vice versa?)

I assure you, though, this is not "just a hotel restaurant".  Its a legit destination, for any meal, and is frequented by celebs (or so I'm told).  The only celeb I saw while I was there was Chef Zakarian, not really as exciting as someone random, but, tbh, was kinda fun to see him in person.
Lobby Bar.
Outside the restaurant is a very elegant bar, which in the evening served a lounge area for hotel guests, and I believe also does make the drinks for the restaurant.  There is a separate, much larger, bar on the Mezzanine level as well.
Entrance.
Just past this bar is the entrance to the restaurant.

Breakfast is clearly not a busy time, there was no host or hostess, and I needed to enter and kinda stand around for a while until someone came to seat me.
Seating.
The dining room matches the elegance of the hotel. All dark black wood paneling, red leather upholstered seating, formal place settings.
Fireplace.
There is even a real wood burning fireplace.  The atmosphere seems like it would be amazing at night.
Table Setting.
Even for breakfast, the tables were properly set, with white table clothes, water goblets, bread plates and knives, coffee cups, and cloth napkins.

I'm not really sure why they had bread plates out, as all food comes plated from the kitchen, and there is no bread service at breakfast.

Breakfast

My visits were all for breakfast, served daily from 7-10am.
Breakfast Menu.
The breakfast lineup starts with a generous selection of fresh squeeze juices, coffee, and huge selection of tea.  The top third of the menu is devoted entirely to drinks.  Next comes the pricey set options (continental for a whopping $32, full american for $35 - yes, $3 gets you eggs and a side dish, or $42 for the signature "Chatwal Breakfast", which adds on the premium egg options like an omelette or frittata, and a fruit salad.

You can also order a la carte, from a selection of breads & pastries, mains and sides.  Mains cover a decent selection of egg dishes (including more interesting options like eggs en cocotte, not just scrambled/fried/omelette) and a handful of breakfast hot carbs, while the sides round out the offerings with breakfast meats, fruit, and potatoes.

I was particularly excited to see that they offered all 3 standard breakfast hot carbs: pancakes, french toast, AND waffles, and that they all came with interesting components:

  • Buttermilk Pancakes / Vanilla Mascarpone, Spiced Apples
  • Stuffed French Toast / Whipped Peanut Butter, Strawberry Compote, Butterscotch
  • Belgian Waffle / Blueberry & Meyer Lemon Butter

I was also interested in the house made pastries, but wish they said *what* the seasonal muffins and scones were.  The fact that they had cannelé in the lineup convinced me the place takes its baking seriously.

Dine-In Experience

Like many hotel restaurants that are at higher end places like this (like Plum & Split Milk at The Great Northern in London, review on that one coming soon), I always appreciate the great food option in the hotel, but always feel a bit bad because I've either 1) just rolled out of bed or 2) come directly from the gym.  I ... don't exactly match the attire of those who are there for business meetings, or have chosen this as a destination restaurant!  Luckily, I am rarely alone in my appearance, I'm sure this is common in hotel restaurants, but, I do always have a moment of feeling bad.

I choose to dine-in several times, but mostly opted for takeout to bring right back to the comforts of my close-by room.
Breakfast Day 1.
My first day was a pleasant surprise, and set me up for a wonderful, unexpected, week of dining.

The service was good, the food was far better than average, and, most importantly, I immediately realized that they get the little touches right.
Breakfast Day 2.
The second day was equally impressive.  Service was a bit slower, but, I actually *really* appreciated one detail: my server asked when I'd like my decaf coffee served (as I was finishing off a togo cup of regular as I entered).  I was thrilled, so that I could actually get it *with* my meal, rather than drink it all before, and have to eat sans coffee.

Drinks

La Colombe Monte Carlo Decaffeinated Americano. $6.
I was shocked by the quality of the decaf Americano.  $6 Americano perhaps not, but, it was *very* good.  Real depth of flavor, I honestly can't believe it was decaf.

It needed nothing added, although it was served with an assortment of sweeteners (including brown sugar cubes) and a little pitcher of warm steamed milk.  #itsTheLittleThings

Subsequent days I had higher expectations, so it blew me away less, but it was still good.
La Colombe Monaco Drip Coffee (Decaf). $7.
They also have regular drip decaf, which I found out later, but it was only ok, fairly watery, too toned down.  And $1 more (although, came with refills).

Cuisine

Buttermilk Pancakes.  $16.
The first day, after a consult with my server, I opted for the pancakes as he said the waffle wasn't *really* anything special, except for the blueberry compote.  But I wasn't excited for the spiced apples that come with the pancake.  So I did what a difficult, opinionated Julie always does: asked for a customization.  The pancakes, sub the blueberry compote from the waffles for the spiced apples.  It was easily accommodated.

The pancakes themselves were very nicely done.  Crispy on the outside.  You can't actually see, but this is a full stack of 3 pancakes, each as large as a dinner plate.  A huge order.  Topped with copious (ok, too much) powdered sugar.

They didn't have tons of buttermilk flavor, and weren't that fluffy, but I liked the crispness.  The pancakes were hot and clearly fresh.
Pancake Condiments: Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone, Hot Blueberry Compote, Warm Maple Syrup.
I'm not sure if the toppings are normally served on top, or on the side, but I was glad to see mine on the side.  It made it much easier to craft my perfect bites!

I adored the whipped vanilla mascarpone.  It alone justified my order choice.  Strong vanilla, strong mascarpone, really delicious.

The blueberry compote was ok, it did have whole berries and lots of sweet blueberry liquid.  Perhaps a bit too sweet.  I liked the berries with the mascarpone, but actually kept finding myself thinking the berry compote would go better with butter (which is how it is served with the waffles, with a meyer lemon butter).  Maybe I *should* have just gone for that!  The compote was hot/warm.  Again, #itsTheLittleThings.

And lastly, the syrup.  A custom bottle of their branded real Vermont syrup.  Warm. #itsTheLittleThings
Belgian Waffle. $18.
The next day, I went for the waffle, since the pancake was good, but, I wanted something different.  Also, um, I have a thing for waffles.

Since I had the blueberry compote that comes with it the previous day, I asked for ... the strawberry compote instead (normally the filling of the stuffed french toast).  I appreciated being asked if I wanted my toppings on the side, or on top.  #itsTheLittleThings.

I expected to also get the "meyer lemon butter" on the side, and was confused when it showed up without.  I was informed that the "meyer lemon is already inside the waffle".  Which would be fine, except ... I didn't taste any citrus at all.

The waffle was fine, but just like my first server had said, nothing special.  No real flavor to base (certainly not meyer lemon).  It was crispy, but not bad crispy like Eggo (if you know what I mean?).

It was also $18, $2 more than the pancakes, or stuffed french toast, which doesn't really make any sense to me.  How is the single waffle that goes into a waffle iron more costly than a stack of pancakes or french toast?
Waffle Toppings: Strawberry Compote, Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone, Maple Syrup.
Oh, uh, I also asked for more whipped vanilla mascarpone.  I know, I know, but, I'm all about toppings!

The vanilla mascarpone was again great, sweet, rich, and went amazingly well with the strawberry.

The strawberry compote was much much better than the blueberry for me, sweet, fruity, full soft berries.  I really wish I had them with the pancake instead!  Oh, and of course, served warm.

Also warm was my personal bottle of real maple syrup, again.

Strawberry compote and vanilla mascarpone was certainly a winning combination, and I think would go amazingly well with some of the baked goods (more on those soon!)

Takeaway

Some mornings, I really just didn't want to deal with sitting in the nice restaurant, mostly because I didn't want to deal with showering after the gym.  Luckily, they do allow takeaway, and package it up quite nicely.
Takeaway Bag.
I didn't exactly need such a nice bag to carry the goods to my room, but, hey, not complaining.
Continental Breakfast #1. $32.
"Choice of: Coffee or Tea and Juice, Parfait or Fruit Salad or Cereal, Two Breads or Pastries."

The first time I got takeaway I just went for the Continental Breakfast, thinking that room temp/chilled items would be best (e.g. hot foods wouldn't get cold or soggy).  It turns out, the pastries weren't served room temp, they heated them (yay!),  and they held their temp fine back to my room.

I selected the aforementioned mediocre decaf drip coffee, the parfait, scone of the day (cookies & cream), and muffin of the day (blueberry).
Continental Breakfast #2. $32.
The continental offering was such a success, that I got it to go again the next day, again selecting the parfait (but changing the packaging, requesting the granola separate, so I could eat it later, and just enjoy the hot fresh pastries when I picked it up!).  This time I went for two different pastries, the almond croissant, and the cannelé.

Spoiler: This breakfast was even better!  These baked goods blow me away.
Pastries & House-Cured Smoked Arctic Char. $45.
My final morning, I finally finally tried something that wasn't sweet and carby: the char.  Oh, but of course I got some pastries too.  Just in case.

It was the worst breakfast I had, and highly inconsistent with my other experiences.

Beverages

Most days I just got an Americano (regular or decaf), and it was usually fine, better than my in-room coffee maker coffee, but not as good as those first couple dine-in experiences.  Sometimes it came as just an espresso, but I didn't really care, I added water from my tea kettle.
La Colombe Cold Brew. $8.
One morning I opted to try the cold brew, at a pricey $8.

I took one look inside my cup though, and laughed.  Of *course* they had ice cubes made of coffee too!  Huge square cubes, made from coffee, so that as they melted, the cold brew didn't get diluted.  ZOMG, #itsTheLitleThings.

It was fine coffee, nothing particularly remarkable, but nice on a hot morning.

Pastries

The baked goods lineup called out immediately, a nice selection with croissants (regular, almond, chocolate), muffins and scones ("seasonal"), bagels and toast, and, as I mentioned, cannelé!    The pricing was a bit funny, most items $5, but the pain au chocolate $7 (even though almond croissant was $5 ...), and the scone $7 (even though the muffin was $5, and the scone tiny).

These items were all generally fantastic, and served warm, really high quality (but final day they weren't warm, strangely).

If you care for my "official" ranking, from least good to best: pain au chocolate (the only one that wasn't actually good), blueberry crumble muffin (fine, but unremarkable), cannelé (nailed it! Great, but not really what I wanted in the morning), cookies & cream scones (very, very, very good, really hard to pick between #1 and #2), and almond croissant (insanely good filling, soooo good the first time, edges out the scones but only barely).
#allThePastries
Ok, I didn't order *all* the pastries during my few days there, I skipped the plain croissant, the bagels, and the english muffin.  But the rest?  Yup, I tried them all.  Some of them I repeated.

Spoiler: some of their baked goods rival that from any top bakery.  In Paris.  I'm not joking.  I don't understand it, but they make incredible pastries.
Pastries from Continental Breakfast #1: blueberry muffin, cookies and cream scone.
The pastries came boxed together, warm.  #itsTheLittleThings.
Pastries from Continental Breakfast #2: almond croissant, cannelé.
The second day, again, two pastries together, again warm.

These were even more amazing.
A la carte Pastries: Almond croissant, pain au chocolates, cookies & cream scones.
The final morning, I got a slew of pastries, knowing it was my last time, but not as part of the continental breakfast.

Very strangely, they were not warm this time.  Do they ... only warm them if you get the continental breakfast?  That would certainly be odd.

They also gave me two scones this time when I ordered one.  Were they supposed to before also?  And look at that icing, they were clearly iced once plated!   I was also given two pain au chocolate when I ordered one.  And the almond croissant, while still large, wasn't nearly as large as before.  So many inconsistencies this day.
Seasonal Muffin (Blueberry). $5.
The seasonal muffin was blueberry.

The muffin was ... ok.  A large muffin, warm, clearly fresh, but not amazing.

It was loaded with big juicy blueberries, was moist, but moist in a oily/spongy way.  It had a slightly odd flavor to it as well.  The top was crisp (not burnt, just a nice contrast) and had a bit of a streusel, but not enough to be meaningful.

Overall, fine, but compared to everything else, not as good.

The subsequent days, the seasonal muffin was described to me as buckwheat blueberry.  Which I guess really was different, as this didn't seem buckwheat at all, but, I didn't order another muffin given that I had other items I wanted to try out.
Seasonal Scone (Cookies & Cream). $7.
The scone was much, much better.  It was very good, in fact.

Cookies & Cream.  So ... "seasonal"?  Go with it.  Chocolate is always in season.

It was also warm.  A hard style scone, good crumble, great tang to the base.  It was loaded with dark chocolate, clearly quality stuff.  Very generously iced with delicious sweet icing.

A healthy item?  No way.  But very good.  $7 scone though?  Eh ...

I'd love to try a fruit scone, with the berry compote and whipped mascarpone though.  I think that would just be incredible.

The second time I ordered the scone, I received two scones instead of just one, and it was clear that they were drizzled with the icing once inside my box even.  Insane.  They ice them to order!  #itsTheLittleThings

The scones were again fantastic that second time.  I really love the tang in the base, and they crumble so nicely.  So hard to pick between 1st and 2nd choice, but this was in the top 2, no question.
Cannelé. $5.
Ok, wow!  I ordered this really just as a “test”, as is a bit odd odd breakfast item (at least to me, although I trust this is standard, I could see it pairing equally well with an espresso as a glass of red wine!), and an extremely hard one to nail.  Side note: the best cannelé I ever had was from Keiko a Nob Hill, which introduced me to how good a cannelé actually *can* be, but most ... are incredibly underwhelming.  And I was getting it from a hotel restaurant, no less.

I shouldn't have feared.

It was good.  Very, very good.  The outside perfectly caramelized right on the edge of burnt in that fascinating way that draws you in.  So crispy.  But not waxy like some cannelé are.  Perfect exterior, really.
Cannelé: Inside.
And inside?  Moist, teetering on custard-like, but not quite.  The contrast between the center and exterior was dead on.

Yes, the Lambs Club somehow nailed this.  Of course it was served warm. 

The $5 price on this one was more than justified!
Almond Croissant. $5.
Speaking of #nailedIt.  Another stunning pastry.  I honestly don’t understand how this place makes such quality pastries, when so many bakeries struggle to deliver this quality level.  Is it the fact that they don’t need to make that many, and small scale production wins?  Do they outsource them from somewhere local and magical? I just don’t know, but wow, this was a fantastic almond croissant.  Fantastic.

Every layer of this was again nailed.  The croissant itself, flaky, buttery, crispy.  It made a horrible mess, and that is a good sign.  The top was crusted in almond frangipane, and plentiful flaked almonds.  Crispy crispy crispy, great textures.
Almond Croissant: Inside.
And inside?  Like a good double baked almond croissant, it was sliced in half, and stuffed.  The inside looked kinda “eh” at first, runny and thinner than I am used to, and not that generous, but it actually was only thin looking I think because it was warm?  The flavor was great, sooo much almond essence.  It wasn’t gritty with bits of almond like some fillings are, but that was absolutely fine, there was enough texture in the topping and croissant itself.  And it was more than generously stuffed, actually, it soaked into the croissant and provided plenty of sweet almond goodness.

So, overall?  Wonderful all around.  Crispy, flaky, buttery, sweet … check, check, check.  My top pick of the pastries, but only barely, as the top three really were all amazing.

This is high end bakery in Paris quality.

When I got this a final time however, it wasn't nearly as good.  It wasn't warm.  It was smaller (although still plenty big).  Not quite as flaky.  Not as much frangipane on top.  But that magical inside filling?  Still there.  I just adored that filling.
Pain au Chocolate. $7.
Since the almond croissant was soooo good, the final morning I added a pain au chocolate to my order.  I couldn't wait to see how they pulled this off.

Strangely, or, maybe expected since the pastries just weren't as good that final day, it ... wasn't good.  Not warm, but also, it honestly was the only one that *did* seem like a generic "hotel restaurant" pastry.  Not very flaky nor buttery.  Just a tiny single bar of chocolate inside.  Mini size.

Absolutely nothing special about it.  And it was priced higher, at $7, but, I got two at least?  My absolute last pick.

Mains

I mostly stuck with the continental breakfast as my takeaway option (since who wants cold soggy pancakes), which included my choice of cereal, fruit salad, or parfait (all of which are also considered "mains" and available a la carte), but I did also order one non-continental main as well.
Parfait: Yogurt / Seasonal Berries. $15.
I'll admit I was a bit sad when I saw the parfait.  It looked so ... ordinary.  But since my breakfast came with a choice of that, or just fruit salad (which had melons) or cereal (literally just corn flakes, raisin bran, Müeslix), parfait seemed like the only real choice.

I had some hope though, as I've had amazing yogurts and parfaits at hotel restaurants on occasion (ZOMG, the yogurt at Tres at the SLS Beverley Hills!!!!)

This was actually really quite good.

The yogurt was rich, thick, creamy, definitely full fat, Greek style.  Excellent.  So often it is runny sweet junk, and the menu didn't say what it was.  A nice surprise.  Slightly tangy, but balanced amazingly with the next layer.

And that layer was the real surprise.  Honey!  Streusel-like granola!  The menu just said "yogurt, seasonal berries", but I assumed it would have granola of some sort, likely generic since the cereals were.  But ... it wasn't at all.

If purchased alone, this is $15, so, I guess it makes sense that it needs to be quality components, but still, I was impressed.  I truly enjoyed this parfait.
Parfait: Yogurt / Seasonal Berries. $15.
(Separately Packaged).
The second day I ordered it, I asked for the granola to be separate so that I could consume it later without it getting mushy.

This also gave me the unexpected benefit of having them still fill the first container, just, with far more fruit.  Score!
Granola (from parfait).
The granola was crunchy, loaded with seeds, and when drizzled with honey, complimented the yogurt so well.

The menu also has granola on the menu as a cereal option ($8), I'm not sure if this was the same or not.  Or if they make it in house or not.  But, here you can see the close up.  It is good granola.
Fruit (from parfait).
And finally, it comes topped with fresh berries - blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, all in basically equal distribution, plenty of them.  They too surprised me.  All very fresh and flavorful.

Such fresh fruit!
House-Cured Smoked Artic Char. $25.
"Crème Fraîche, Caperberries, Bread or Bagel."

Ok, wow.  This was a beautiful, beautiful take out breakfast!!  Their version of uh, a bagel, cream cheese, and lox.

Seriously, someone bothered to plate it like that, just for takeout.  #itsTheLittleThings.  I really expected just ... some slices of smoked fish, a container of crème fraîche, and some whole  pickled caperberries.  And ... this is what I got!

So, what did we have?  Slices of rolled cured artic char.  I was hoping for more smoky flavor though, it didn't really have any, but, the fish was fresh, mild, not oily, no real concerns, but not standout in any way.

A quenelle of crème fraîche.  Creamy, smooth, fairly standard, but more interesting than cream cheese.

And then ... capers.  Fried.  Crispy.  Salty.  Briny.  Loved them.  Mega points for frying these.  There were also slices of fresh pickled caperberry, again salty and a great savory element.

I don't know what the crumble was.  I don't know what all the garnish was (some celery greens, pickled red onion, and ... other micro greens?).  Beautiful, fresh components.

There were certainly some unique, fun touches here, and overall it was a good dish, but, at the core, just not the dish for me, since, well, I'm a sweet, carby breakfast girl.

Also my most expensive choice, and, at $25, the most expensive item on their menu.
Five Grain Bread.
The char came with my choice of bagel (plain only) or toast (white, whole wheat, country, or five grain).  I didn't really want any, but picked the five grain, just to keep it for the next day at my next hotel that wouldn't have breakfast (but would have toaster), so I asked for it untoasted.

It was ... bread?  Not much to say here.
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