Thursday, June 27, 2019

Frozen Yogurt at Pinkberry

Update Review #7: 2018 Visits

March 2018 Visit

Oh Pinkberry.  I just ... don't understand.  I've reviewed it many times before (see below) and, besides the peanut butter they had way back when they opened in SF in 2012, it just always fails to impress.  There really is such better froyo out there!

But, I'm still a member of their rewards program, and thus, I do sometimes get free ones.  I keep trying, just for those.  I've concluded something though.  Unless there is a flavor I actually like, the best move is just the original, loaded up with fruit.  The fruit always is actually good, and, while boring, and still not creamy, the original flavor is a decent base.  Not really my general style, which is why its taken me so long to conclude this, but, it really is what I should do.  Next time.
Small Side-by-Side with Toppings: Chocolate Pinkbees, Original Yogurt. $5.99.
As always at my location, the flavor selection was lackluster.

Tart original, pomegranate, and meyer lemon.  Mango sorbet.  Chocolate hazelnut froyo.  Chocolate Pinkbees (ice cream).

The chocolate Pinkbees was new to me, and, although I don't generally want chocolate ice cream, I tried it.  It was ... meh.  Better than the very icy chocolate froyo, but, not super creamy premium chocolate ice cream.  It is lowfat after all.  And I didn't end up caring for the chocolate flavor itself either.  Doh.

"Original: one-of-a-kind taste that is refreshing, light and craveable with the perfect balance of sweet and tart".

I also went with Original yogurt, done as a side by side, since I knew it wouldn't combine well, and since every other flavor was tart, I didn't really have a choice if I wanted to try the ice cream.  The Original was fine, slightly tart, slightly sweet.  Not very creamy though, clearly "froyo" in the sense that makes people look down on it.

For toppings on the Original side, I opted for fruit, finally taking my own advice to stop getting all the candy and things that looked good, and just get fruit which actually generally *is* good.  I went with kiwi and mango, as the strawberries looked a bit sad.  Both were, well, good.  Juicy, ripe, flavorful.  They went well with the Original flavor.  

So that side was a quasi-success.  Still not something I'd crave, but I was happy to finish it.

The other side was ... very sad.  I didn't care for the flavor of the ice cream, so that was one strike.  My toppings also weren't great.  I wanted nuts for crunch, so I went for pecans, that looked slightly caramelized.  I couldn't taste them, very, very masked by the strong chocolate flavor.  I'm willing to try them again on a more neutral flavor, but, they were lost here.

My other topping was horrible.  I asked what it was, and was told "cinnamon".  I said, "cinnamon granola?", as it looked granola-esque.  "No", was the curt reply, "that is granola" (pointing at the plain granola).  I tried again, "cinnamon crumble?"  "No, its just cinnamon".  Um ... ok?  It clearly wasn't just cinnamon.  So I got it.  I like crumble things?  It was some kind of cinnamon crumble, but it did not add the texture, nor flavor, I was looking for.  It was like sand throughout.  Gritty.  Horrible.  And the flavor wasn't good either.  It really ruined that side for me, and even as I tried to scrape it off, it infiltrated.

For my final topping, I asked what sauces they had.  "Caramel" was one of the answers, so I opted for that.  I was surprised when she picked up the squeeze bottle of "dulce de leche", and squeezed it on, clearly annoyed to be doing so, as it didn't exactly flow easily.  It was ... fine, but covered in the horrible sand-cinnamon.

Lesson learned.  Original with fruit.  Give up on the others!

August 2018 Visit - Logan Airport, Terminal C

I arrived off a flight, totally unsatisfied, and craving ... something, anything.  Except it was 9:30pm, and everywhere was closing.  I seem to have literally just missed them all by mere minutes.  Lights were being flicked off, staff were still there picking up, as I went running up to each and every place I picked out.

After my heart was broken at Wahlburgers, I rushed around the corner saying to myself, "Well, FINE, I'll just get a big huge froyo for dinner!", only to see the Pinkberry lights off, and the staff member walking away with all the serving tongs.

Nooooo ...  

I still approached, and said "You are closed, right?"  The staff member smiled, said nah, and asked what I wanted.  

My options were not exciting though, once I had a second to read the menu:  the standard lineup of Original, Pomegranate, and Chocolate Hazelnut, that every Pinkberry seems to always have, and none of which I really like.  No more Pinkbees real ice cream, and instead just the Coconut Milk Coconut that I never really like that much.  Green Tea Lemonade, caffeinated, so out cuz it was night.  And the seasonal special: banana bread.  Eh.

I asked to sample the seasonal flavor, and she didn't mind, even offering if I wanted to sample anything else.  And when I was indecisive about which flavors to order (since, to be honest, I didn't really like any of them, but I still wanted something), she even offered, not by my asking, to make me one with all three of my choices!  They normally only do side-by-side.  She said she'd never tried it before, but would totally do it.

She was kinda awesome, even if she led me astray with one of my topping choices, strongly encouraging me to get the cookie dough, her absolute favorite.
Small Side-by-Side-by-Side with Toppings: Original, Banana Bread, Coconut Milk Coconut, with Kiwi, Blueberries, Candied Pecans, Yogurt Chips, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
The three I went for were the Original (since I know that one is at least decent with fruit, but is a very tart flavor, and not the style of creamy froyo I prefer), the Banana Bread (it was the only non-tart option, and it wasn't awful, just, not great), and the Coconut Milk Coconut (always too much on its own, but I hoped it would balance with the others).  Basically, all mediocre choices, and I hoped they would combine together to be better.  Which, they sorta did.

The original was as it always is, tart, icier style, not that creamy.  And, good with fruit.  Exactly what I expected.

The banana bread I sampled first, and it was certainly a banana flavor, and you need to like banana flavor to like this, and was too much to imagine a full bowl of it, but, it was much creamier than the others, and sweeter, so it was nice to have in the bowl.  It went best with the non-fruit toppings.

And the coconut milk coconut, even more icy than the original, way too strong coconut, just too much on its own, best tempered with the original, but still not one I actually like.  Nice with the blueberries, but again, too strong.  I need to not get it again.

The fruit was all great as always, kiwi and blueberries, both very fresh, ripe, flavorful.  Pinkberry does a consistently good job with fruit.  Maybe I should have gotten strawberries and mangos too, but I wanted to mix it up.

The yogurt chips were fine, but I always wish they were white chocolate.  Nice from some texture.  Same with the candied nuts, good texture, and hey, protein, right?

The cookie dough I added really because she told me to, telling me about how it was her favorite, how she's on a diet but eats two balls of it per shift (as in, 2 tiny pieces), so, I got it.  They were the most unremarkable cookie dough bits ever!  Tiny, much smaller than most places, and I didn't really taste cookie dough, no butteriness, etc.  Eh.  Would not get these again.

So overall, it was all fine, decent choices given the options, and at least it was something to eat at 10pm, but, eh.

Other flavors sampled:
  • Cookies & Cream (nonfat, sweet): "A chocolatey yogurt made by blending real cookie pieces into the yogurt." Tasting notes:  Meh.  Yes, chocolately but not chocolate, creamy but clearly not "ice cream".  Nothing very redeeming about it.
  • Green Tea Lemonade (tart): "The vibrant new Green Tea Lemonade is a summertime sensation with its delicious taste and refreshing flavor that goes so well with fresh pineapple and mango, we're calling it A Perfect Matcha!"  Tasting notes: This is a limited summer special, and, it was listed on the sign as "A Perfect Matcha", so I expected, well, matcha.  I was pretty taken back when the yogurt sample was 1) not really green, 2) tart, and 3) tasted like lemon.  I looked up, confused.  "Oh yeah, its very lemonade flavored, right?", said the server.  I'm glad they changed the marketing on this to "Green Tea Lemonade" from "Matcha", because, I can't be the only one who was expecting something entirely different!  I can't really evaluate this one, as icy, tart, and fruity was not what I wanted ... I wanted bitter creamy matcha!
  • Meyer Lemon: "A new, fresh squeezed flavor just in time for spring". Tasting Notes: This was almost good, but even though it was a tart yogurt, it was too sweet for me.  I know that is hard to explain really, but, it was too sweet somehow.  Also, icy/grainy.
  • Pomegranate (tart): It had been a few years since I tried this, so I gave it a try to see if perhaps my taste had changed.  Nope.  Still way too tart and just not a flavor I enjoy in any way.
  • Milk Chocolate Crunch (Luxe Topping, $0.50/scoop): I took one bite of this, and was instantly sad.  Hazelnut.  I tasted hazelnuts.  I know people love chocolate and hazelnut, but, I do not.  And this was called "milk chocolate crunch" ... not "chocolate hazelnut crunch"!  I thought that my brain might be just be playing tricks on me, but, alas, when I looked up the ingredients online later, it was confirmed.  Hazelnuts, and almonds, both in the ingredient list than cocoa even.  Sigh.  And, it probably doesn't need saying that this wasn't exactly great quality chocolate base, the first ingredient is vegetable oil, followed by sugar.  I'm really sad they do not carry the peanut butter nor lemon crunch any more, as I loved those, and only tried this one hoping it would be like those.
  • Mochi: Very standard little mochi.  Soft, pliable, fresh, but just mochi.

Update Review #6: July & September 2017

My local Pinkberry has the lamest flavors. Always. They had peanut butter, and other good ones, back when they opened, but in the past few years, I've been really disappointed. Pinkberry makes good flavors, I just don't understand why my shop never has any of the sweet interesting flavors.

This year, I visited for my annual free birthday treat, and was met with yet another disappointing flavor lineup.  2 sweet, 2 tart, and 2 non-dairy: Tart Original and Pomegranate, sweetChocolate Hazelnut and Blueberry Muffin, and non-dairy Coconut Milk Coconut and Just Fruit Tropical Mango.

The first three they always have.  Original is just boring.  The pomegranate is always too tart.  The chocolate hazelnut always fails to impress.  Boo to those.

I tried the other three.  Meh to mango sorbet.  The "Blueberry Muffin" I had tried once before, but still gave it another try.  It did indeed taste somewhat like a muffin, but it was also too tart, and also icy.  The coconut milk based coconut flavor was ok, so I opted to do a side-by-side with the lackluster chocolate hazelnut.  They seemed like they would go together well.

My creation wasn't very good.
Chocolate Hazelnut & Coconut Side-by-Side. Almond Roca, Candied Pecans, Dark Chocolate Chips, Fresh Kiwi.  Small.  $5.25.
Chocolate Hazelnut
"Decadent and sweet chocolate with a hint of hazelnut from real Nutella"

I got the chocolate hazelnut mostly because I didn't like anything else.  This one at least is decently creamy, unlike every other flavor that is always icy.  But, I never really taste the hazelnut, and the chocolate isn't that intense.  Meh.

Coconut Milk Coconut
"Made with real coconut milk."

This was decent in a small sample cup, but, it was extremely overwhelming in a real portion.  Way too strong of coconut flavor.  I like coconut, but this I didn't like.  Even as it melted, even when combined with the chocolate, I just didn't like it.  Too intense, with a strange mouthfeel.  They do add "coconut flavor" to the coconut milk base, whatever that means ...

My toppings also weren't very successful.

On the chocolate side, I had almond roca and mini dark chocolate chips.  The crushed almond roca was even disappointing, and that is one I normally like.   It normally has bigger bits and this was kinda just powder.  The little dark chocolate chips weren't particularly flavorful, not nearly as deep a flavor as the dark chocolate curls they used to have a Pinkberry.

On the coconut side, I opted to try the candied pecans, which were sweet and crunchy, and actually good, and the fresh cut kiwi, which was the best part of my entire treat.  The kiwi really was ripe and tasty ... all 4.5 nibbles I had of it.

Note to self: just get the boring original and load it up with the fresh fruit.  The fruit really does seem to be the best thing at Pinkberry.

My treat was free as a birthday reward, but normally this is >$5, which seems crazy.

[ No Photo ]
Other Flavors

Blueberry Muffin Frozen Yogurt (Summer 2017 Seasonal)."Cool down without heating up the oven with our sweet new blueberry muffin favor."

For summer, Pinkberry introduced a new flavor, and new topping to go along with it, Blueberry Muffin froyo, with blueberry muffin crumbles.

I tried it, but, I wasn't impressed.  Why was it "Blueberry Muffin"?  It just tasted fruity and tart.  It was fine I guess, but not muffin-like, and not particularly interesting.

Just Fruit Tropical Mango (non-dairy).
"Real tropical mango and pineapple that tastes like sunshine."

I didn't taste the sunshine, sorry.  But it wasn't wasn't very mango-y, because of all the other tropical fruits mixed in.  It turned out to be a mix of mango, banana puree, white grape juice, pineapple juice, and pear juice, lots of fillers in addition to the mango.  I don't like sorbet, but tried it because I have liked the mango froyo before.  Sadly, no, this was just sorbet, very icy.

Review #5, August 2016

Pinkberry has expanded beyond basic tart and sweet frozen yogurt.  They now offer a number of dairy-free flavors, and, finally, soft serve ice cream.  For dairy free, you can pick from "Just Fruit" flavors (strawberry, peach passion, or tropical mango) or you can opt for a coconut milk base (available in regular coconut or salted caramel flavors).  Ice cream comes in only one flavor "milk", is low-fat, and not available in San Francisco.

In fact, the San Francisco shop flavors continue to disappoint me.  When I went to redeem my birthday freebie, I was again faced with no flavors I wanted.  My choices were the standard tart, pomegranate, blood orange, and chocolate hazelnut that they always have, plus peach and the plain coconut milk based one.  I tried 4 flavors before I settled on two, but, honestly, I didn't want any of these flavors.  Why does our store never carry the good ones anymore?
Pomegranate Froyo and Coconut Milk Coconut Side-By-Side, With Cookie Dough, Cheesecake, Almond Roca, and . Small.
Even though I didn't really like them, I opted for Pomegranate and Coconut Milk Coconut, because the others were just way too sweet.  The coconut milk flavor was dairy-free.  In retrospect, I really should have considered the Original flavor.  Oops.

The pomegranate was slightly fruity, and very sweet.  Rather icy and not very smooth.  I know people love Pinkberry, but, there is much creamier froyo out there (like Yoppi, or my favorite local Prima Cafe).  As it melted, it got even worse, it separated into liquid and ice.  Meh.

The coconut milk flavor was about the same consistency, but was very rich.  Extremely coconut flavored.  It was a bit much, really.  It was also sweet.  I had hoped this would tame the sweet pomegranate, but it didn't.  I don't think I'd get it again, as it as just too much coconut for me.

For toppings, I went a bit crazy.  I had to rule out all fruit toppings since they had watermelon, which was sad, since the mangos and blueberries looked great.  I couldn't risk it.

I decided to get a bunch of toppings that I'd never had before, just to really mix it up.  And since I was saddened by the froyo flavors themselves, I decided to go big on toppings, hoping they'd jazz up the lackluster flavors.

So, I started with the most decadent option: cheesecake cubes.  They were awful! Cubes of mushy warm cheesecake, coated in some graham crumbles.  I tried a few, and discarded the rest.  Would certainly never get again.

The cookie dough balls were better, but not remarkable.  At least they weren't gross like the Baskin-Robbins ones?

Next up came almond roca, standard chocolate toffee crumbles, sweet, crunchy, fine.

My final topping you can't see here, but it was little pink balls.  I honestly had no idea what it was, I think she said they were pomegranate blueberry crunch balls?  They added great crunch, but were otherwise flavorless.

So, overall, not really great.  My toppings, besides the cheesecake, were all fine, but I wouldn't really recommend any of them.  And I didn't really care for the froyo itself.

I also sampled a few others:
  • Blood Orange: "Exquisite and succulent tart citrus with a zing".  Just like last year when I tried a sample, it was crazy sweet.  I honestly don't understand how they take a tart thing like citrus and make it so sweet.  I did not like this at all.
  • Peach: "Everything Is Peachy! light and succulent taste of a fresh harvested peach".  This is a summer flavor, and, we'll, it too was too sweet.  The peach was lost in the sugar.
A few months prior, I was on the East Coast, and got to sample the ice milk ice cream, when Ojan's niece couldn't finish hers, and I couldn't let it go to waste.  It tasted … well, like milk.  I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not.  Better than the froyo, but, compared to other soft serve ice cream, not as good.

Review #4, August 2013 and 2014

Many businesses give out freebies for your birthday, but usually they are chain restaurants, or fast food joints, and aren't really things I want (although, I've of course checked out many of them!).  This year, when my birthday rolled around, there was one freebie I was really looking forward to: Pinkberry!

Since I've reviewed them several times already, I'll skip the general details, and focus only on my experience on this particular visit.

The staff was friendly enough, happy to let me sample a few flavors first (in fact, the first question I was asked wasn't "What would you like?", but instead, "Would you like to try any flavors?").  And the cashier even wished me a Happy Birthday (always a great touch!).  And it was a beautiful sunny day, and I enjoyed the fact that they had outside seating.

My froyo was great, and I'll certainly be back again.

August 2013

Peanut Butter Froyo topped with Dark Chocolate Curls and Almond Roca, Mango Froyo topped with Blueberries and Mochi.  Small.  $4.95.
For my flavors I decided on two that I have always loved: Peanut Butter and Mango.  Of course, those flavors do not go together at all, so I had them side by side rather than swirled, and ate them separately.  My last few bites did have a little bit of each in them, as they had melted somewhat at that point, and ... yeah, mango and peanut butter just do not go together :)  But, I honestly don't know how I'd pick just one, so side by side it is!  I love that Pinkberry lets you have any two flavors you want in this way.

Peanut butter is the most decadent of their flavors.  While some are low-fat or non-fat, the peanut butter is definitely not.  They use real peanuts, which, yup, contain fat.  I'm certain that using real nuts is what makes it so delicious.  It is creamy and just so peanut buttery.  Always one of my favorite peanut butter froyos anywhere.

I love a chocolate and peanut butter combo, so I wanted chocolate based toppings on that side.  I had many choices, including milk or dark chocolate shavings, chocolate crunch balls, brownie bites, crushed cookies, chocolate granola, mini chocolate chips, or almond roca.  I have gone with the almond roca on many other occasions, and liked it, so I went for it again.  This time however, I didn't love it.  It was ok, I mean, it is chocolate covered toffee and ground up almonds, totally delicious, but it actually just seemed a bit too sweet to me.  The real winner on my peanut butter froyo was the dark chocolate shavings.  I was shocked by how much I liked them.  The chocolate was actually really good, slightly bitter, and the size of the shavings made them really fun to eat, added a bit of a crunch, and were big enough to really taste against the peanut butter froyo.  I'd certainly get the chocolate shavings again.  Surprising how the most simple seeming topping can be the best!

Mango is another one of their froyo flavors that I've gotten many times, although I've usually paired it with something more appropriate, like lychee.  I knew it wouldn't go with the peanut butter, but I didn't care.   I wanted a fruity tart option too!  And it was.  Not as creamy as the peanut butter, but still fairly smooth, nicely tart, and with strong mango flavor.  It was a refreshing contrast to the richer peanut butter.

With the fruity froyo, I wanted a light, fruit topping.  I've had such mixed experiences with the Pinkberry fruit toppings, ranging from underripe mangos to amazingly delicious raspberries, but generally the fruit is good, although not remarkable.  It all looked ripe and fairly fresh, so I took a gamble and went for blueberries.  They were as expected - not mushy, ripe, but not extraordinary.  Good enough, and I'd get this again.

I was a bit stumped on what to pick for my final topping.  I could go for another fruit, as the strawberries and raspberries both looked good, and would pair nicely.  I could add something crunchy, as there were plentiful choices, ranging from all sorts of nuts (caramelized almonds, slivered almonds, mixed nuts) to several varieties of granola.  But instead my eyes were drawn to the mochi.  The last time I had mochi on my froyo, I said I wouldn't get it again.  But I really liked the flavor combination of the sliced fresh mango and mochi when I used them as toppings on the Greek yogurt, and since I was having mango froyo, I thought it would go well.  Like all other occasions, the mochi was good.  Soft, glutenous, a tiny bit sweet.  And like before, I liked the mango and rice flavors together, reminding me of mango sticky rice.  But ... I still don't think mochi is a very good froyo topping.  I'm not sure what it is about it, I just do not like the soft mochi with the soft froyo.  I mostly pushed the mochi aside, and ate them at the end, in a pool of mango flavored melty goodness.

I also sampled the green tea frozen yogurt.  It was very creamy, but didn't have a strong enough green tea taste for my liking.

I'm still always shocked by the price of Pinkberry.  With no toppings a small is $3.50; with toppings $4.95.  Their stuff is quality for sure, but it always seems steep.  Of course, this was my birthday freebie, so I'm not complaining.

August 2014

Another year, another free birthday froyo!  The very first warmish day in the month around my birthday I headed straight to Pinkberry to redeem my freebee.  I was really looking forward to this, and hoped to get peanut butter.  But alas, my choices were fairly lame: chocolate hazelnut, which I've never liked and pomegranate which I wasn't interested in, neither of which I even bothered to try.  The promising sounding Vanilla Latte had a decent coffee flavor, but was incredibly icy.  I'm glad I sampled it first, because I wouldn't have wanted a whole cup of it.  Strawberry Banana was another sweet and not tart option, and it had pretty good flavor ... except that I don't actually like strawberry froyo or ice cream.  Thus, I was left with only the two tart options: pineapple and original.  I considered coming back another day instead, but, it was sunny, and I wanted froyo!
Small Tart and Pineapple Tart Side By Side with Strawberries, Strawberry Popping Boba, White Chocolate Chips, Almonds.
The pineapple was tart yet sweet.  I liked the flavor, except that it was actually a bit too sweet.  Both the pineapple and the original froyo were fairly icy, not as bad as the vanilla latte one I sampled, but far icier and less creamy than I remembered.  The consistency was disappointing.

For a fruit topping, I went for strawberries.  I thought strawberries and pineapple sounded good together, and it looked like the most ripe option.  The berries were good, sweet, fresh, pretty good.  I decided to continue the strawberry theme and also added strawberry popping boba (the other option was mango flavored).  They were pretty standard, sweet.

I wanted some crunch, but didn't want granola, so my only choice was slivered almonds, the only nuts available.  They were unremarkable.  Still, good for a crunch.

The final topping I picked was white chocolate chips, mostly just to have something sweet and a bit creamy.  Which is exactly what they were.

Overall, this was fairly successful in terms of the ingredients I picked working well together, but it failed to impress.  I actually liked the plain tart better than the pineapple once I had the toppings involved, because the sweeter pineapple yogurt was too sweet with all the sweet toppings.  I wouldn't get this exact creation again.

Review #3, April 2014

You know I like frozen treats, particularly on a warm, sunny day.  And, although it is a chain, I do like Pinkberry.  Sure, it isn't my number one pick for froyo in San Francisco (that honor goes to Prima Cafe), but it is creamy, reliable, and they have a great selection of toppings.

Pinkberry always carries 6 flavors, and they rotate regularly.  I wasn't very excited when I saw the 6 flavor options of the day.  My absolute favorite, peanut butter, was not available.  For tart flavors, they had classic tart, pomegranate, key lime, and mango.  For sweet, only chocolate hazelnut and chocolate chip cookie.

Hmm.  I briefly considered not getting anything, but it was a beautiful day, and I really wanted froyo!

As always, the Pinkberry staff were more than happy to let me sample things.  Rather than asking what I'd like, the first thing I was asked was, "can I get some samples for you?"  I wasn't really in the mood for tart froyo, so I asked to try the chocolate chip cookie, and the key lime, just out of curiosity, even though I rarely like anything key lime.  As I pondered a moment, the helpful worker asked if I like Nutella.  I said, sure, who doesn't.  She eagerly brought me a sample of the chocolate hazelnut, saying it was much better than the chocolate chip in her opinion.  I'd had it before and didn't love it then, so I would have never asked to sample it, but humored her and tried it.

Both the chocolate chip cookie and the chocolate hazelnut are not fat free, and thus, are clearly creamier than the fat free counterparts.  The creaminess and consistency are perfect, but the chocolate hazelnut didn't have much flavor.  And the chocolate chip cookie I just really didn't like.  I can't say what it was exactly, but the flavor just wasn't good.  And reminded me nothing of a chocolate chip cookie.

So, even though I wasn't in the mood for it, I went tart flavors ... with toppings of course.
Small Key Lime and Mango Side By Side with Toppings.  $4.95.
Shockingly, after trying the sample, I decided to get key lime.  Definitely the first key lime thing I've enjoyed in a long time.  I also decided to get my old tart standby, mango.  The key lime and mango were on the same machine, so I was offered the choice of a swirl, or a side by side.  Just in case I decided that the key lime wasn't too my liking, or, if the mango turned out to not be delicious that day, I did them side by side, but I think they would be fine as a swirl too.

The mango was fruity and sweet, just a bit tart.  It actually was a bit too sweet for me, at least, given my topping choices (more on that in a minute).  The key lime however was really tart, and I liked it.

Neither of these were as creamy as the versions with fat, but they weren't icy, and are probably the creamiest of any fat free froyo I've tried.  Very good consistency.

And then, it was time for toppings.  Pinkberry has a rule that you can get as many toppings as fit in your container.  Always such an overwhelming offer for me!

Now, a reasonable adult would get their tart, fruity froyo topped with wholesome things like fresh fruit, granola, perhaps some sliced nuts.  And Pinkberry offers all of these things.  One can craft quite a healthy treat for themselves.  And the fruit did all look good, freshly sliced, and would pair perfectly with the tart yogurt.

But ... I didn't get for any of those things, and instead picked all the ridiculous ones.  I kinda laughed when I saw my completed froyo, as I'm sure it resembled one ordered more often by a child.

  • Fruity Bears: I remembered loving these once before , so I made them my first pick.  They are rather hidden in the photo, peeking out below the boba.  I only received four of them.  As before, I loved them.  The flavor is just so intense, very fruity, and they are the perfect level of chewiness.  I wish I knew what brand they were, because I'd really love to eat more of these, just as gummy bears, sans froyo.  I don't particularly like gummy candy in my froyo, so I always let them fall to the side, and eat at the end.  It is kinda perfect, you have that moment of "oh man, it is my dessert gone already?  I want more!" and you then get to enjoy a pile of gummy candy as a second treat.  Perfect!
  • Sugarpova Smitten Sour Mini: Speaking of gummy candy, Pinkberry just introduced several new types of gummy toppings, by Sugarpova.  The "Smitten Sour Mini" are little ribbons, which weren't nearly as sour as I wanted them to be.  I didn't get these on my froyo, but when I asked how sour they were, I was immediately given a sample.  I'm glad I didn't pick them.
  • Sugarpova Flirty Mini: I did get the other Sugarpova offering, the "Flirty Mini".  These were little lips, in assorted flavors, two layers, with a cream bottom.  I didn't try them before I added them, but if I had, I wouldn't have ordered them.  They were too chewy for my liking.  The lemon flavor I really didn't like.  The strawberry was a nice flavor, and the cream bottom complimented it well in the strawberries-n-cream sort of way.  Like the bears, I received four of them, which you can see, cream side up, right near my spoon.
  • Strawberry Popping Boba: For my "fruit" selection, I went for popping boba.  Sure, they aren't actually made with fruit, but they had sweet strawberry flavor, and were kinda fun to eat.  They were too sweet though, at least in the quantity given.  Unlike the gummy candies, my server was quite generous with the boba, and there was far more of it than I wanted. I probably wouldn't get these again.
  • Yogurt Chips: I have no idea why I added yogurt chips.  Last time I had them, I thought they were useless.  I thought the same this time.  They added no flavor.  They are the perfect size though, and provide a good textural component, but, meh, no flavor.  Maybe I should try the mini chocolate chips next time.  I really don't want to get these again.
  • Fruity Pebbles: And finally, I wanted something with crunch to it.  I mentioned this thought outloud, and the server making my creation helpfully suggested granola or sliced nuts.  Instead I got ... Fruity Pebbles.  Now, I've never had Fruity Pebbles in my life.  Not as cereal, certainly not as a froyo topping.  I think whenever I go to Pinkberry, I have a moment of total weirdness where I can't make up my mind, and just call out whichever topping I see next.  And in this case, it was Fruity Pebbles.  They did indeed add a great crunch.  And, the quantity given seemed right.  But ... soooooo sweet.  With the mango in particular, they were just too sweet.  I guess if I were really in the mood for sweet I'd get them again, as the crunch and size were perfect, but not really right for this creation.
So, I sorta failed on selecting my toppings.  I probably would have liked my froyo more with fresh fruit, like mango, strawberries, or blueberries.  Perhaps some mochi.  Coconut flakes would go well with the mango.  Nuts are always good.  And who doesn't want chocolate shavings?  But instead, I had a pile of candy and sugar.  I still liked it, don't get me wrong, but ... not ideal.  As always though, those fruity bears really impressed me.  Best gummy bears ever :)

Pinkberry does make incredibly creamy froyo, but their prices are what keep me away.  $4.95 for a small with toppings?  It wasn't THAT big.

Review #2, November 2012

A few weeks ago, I posted about Pinkberry, my second favorite froyo place in San Francisco.  I wasn't planning to go back so soon, but they just launched a new rewards app to replace their physical rewards cards, and to get everyone using it, they pre-load it with a free small with toppings!  You know I can't resist freebies, but particularly not at a place I know I like.  I also installed the Pinkberry app on Ojan's phone, and dragged him there with me a few days later to split another one.  So good.

It hadn't been that long since I'd last visited, but they already had several new flavors.  Of course I had to try them.  The staff were again very friendly, helpful, and eager.  Such a happy place to visit.

I still prefer self serve models, but I do appreciate that they let you pick two flavors even in a small, so you can be indecisive like me.  And the same with toppings, you can get 4-5 different ones, or as they say, "as many fit comfortably in the cup".
Lychee and Peanut Butter Yogurts with raspberries, mochi, chocolate covered pretzels, almond roca.  Small.  $4.95.
As always, I had a hard time making up my mind, so I went for my two favorite flavors, even though they totally didn't go together at all.  Which is fine, because they swirl them side by side.  I also wanted all the toppings, so narrowing down to four was hard.  They made it somewhat easier by not allowing any of the luxe toppings for the freebie.

Lychee was a new flavor for me, and I loved it.  It was sweet, but also quite tart, and just really tasty.  I'm not sure I would have known it was lychee, but I really liked the sweet and tart contrast.  On that side, I had mochi and raspberries.  The mochi was soft, not old or stale, but fairly unremarkable.  It was just plain mochi.  He gave a lot of it.  I probably wouldn't get it again.  The raspberries were the suggestion of the server, and seemed fresh, quality, and flavorful.  They were indeed a great pairing with the lychee.  But there were only 3 of them.  I would have certainly preferred more of them and less of the mochi!

The other flavor I picked was my old favorite: peanut butter.  Probably my all time favorite frozen yogurt flavor at most places, but Pinkberry does a particularly good job with making it creamy and flavorful.  On that side I had almond roca, which like before had a good crunch and went well with the peanut butter, and some tiny chocolate covered pretzels.  Like the raspberries, I only received 3 of them.  I guess that is the magic number for countable toppings.  They were a somewhat strange thing to put on frozen yogurt.  Tiny, but still a little big to eat comfortably.  And they did taste a little stale.  I liked the chocolate coating with the peanut butter yogurt though, and the salt and crunch from the pretzel were nice.  I probably wouldn't get them again though.

I certainly enjoyed my yogurt, but I couldn't help but think that $4.95 was a pretty hefty price for a fairly small yogurt.  Yes, it had toppings, but still.  I guess that is the going rate for froyo these days though.

[ Not Pictured ]
Mango and Lychee Swirl with Yogurt Chips, Raspberries, and a Waffle Cookie. 

This was a winning combination.  They were both very flavorful, tart yet sweet, and the two fruity flavors went together really well.  The lychee helped balance out the almost overwhelming mango.

Since I was impressed with the raspberries on my previous visit, I went for them again.  They were again fresh, slightly tart, and good, although ... one seemed frozen.  Do they actually use frozen fruit?

I also picked the yogurt chips, little tiny white chips that were a bit sweet, but mostly flavorless.  I would not get these again, as they added a little texture, but little else.

And at the last minute, I also had her add on a waffle cookie.  I think I got jealous when I saw the person next to me getting a waffle cone.  I'd had the waffle cookie on my first visit, and wasn't all that impressed with it, and felt the same way this time.  It really is just a little chunk of waffle cone, not stale exactly, but not fresh tasting.  I think I'd skip this in the future.

[ Not Pictured ]
Mango and Lychee Swirl with Raspberries, Organic Fruity Bears, and Chocolate Chips.

I again liked both of these flavors.  Tart, fruity, pretty good.  I think I would actually prefer to not have them swirled, as they are each very flavorful on their own, and swirling them somewhat cancelled out the flavors.

The raspberries were again about the same.  Better than you'd expect for out of season berries, but not particularly amazing.  The chocolate chips were semisweet chocolate, and added something good to crunch on.  The fruity bears were a big surprise, they were really good!  Perfectly chewy, really fruity and flavorful, quite good.  I don't actually like gummy candy in my froyo, and pushed them off to the side to enjoy at the end, and I'm glad I did.  I'd gladly just eat these on their own!

[ Not Pictured ]

  • Cookies and Cream: Delicious!  Really creamy, and almost tasted like soy milk (in a good way).
  • Gingerbread: Well, it tasted like gingerbread.  Which it turns out, I don't really want in my froyo.
  • Mango: Such a strong mango flavor.  Very tart.  Tons of flavor here, I think a full cup of it would be too much, but a small portion was delicious.
  • Pomegranate: This had a subtle pomegranate flavor, a good tartness.  I would consider getting it again, but I tend to like other flavors more.

Original Review, September 2012

I posted a few weeks ago about my favorite frozen yogurt in San Francisco: Prima Cafe.  They are a tiny, local place, not even known for their yogurt.  It seems strange, but my second favorite place falls on the far other side of the spectrum ... the nationwide chain, Pinkberry.

They only recently opened a Pinkberry in San Francisco, and I attended the big launch event, where they were sampling many flavors.  When I went back for a regular visit, the first thing they did was offer to let me try all of them (which I didn't do, I knew I wanted the peanut butter!).  They were still new at the time, perhaps that is why they were doing that?  It seemed very generous!  Again, perhaps because they are new, but the staff seem very friendly and enthusiastic.

Anyway, their frozen yogurt is particularly creamy, and they have a slew of interesting toppings.  I greatly prefer self-serve models where I can control the size of my creation and put the toppings on how I want them, but for a full serve place, they are my favorite.

As always, multiple tastings are denoted inside brackets.
Small peanut butter and original with peanut butter crunch, lemon cookie crunch, milk chocolate crunch, almond roca, and a waffle cookie.
Frozen Yogurt:
  • Chocolate: Very intense chocolate, but not a style I like.  [ Very rich, very chocolatey, but I don’t like it.]
  • Chocolate Hazelnut: Very creamy, nice hazelnut tones, tastes like nutella, pretty good.
  • Coconut: Nicely tart, great coconut flavor, nice consistency. [ Some coconut flavor, good consistency, ok ]
  • Hot Chocolate: Very creamy, not as intense in its chocolatey-ness.  Not sure what was hot chocolate about it, the picture had marshmallows?
  • Mango: Very nicely tart, creamy, good mango flavor.  [ Great tartness and creamyness, really good ] [ Tart but sweet, good mango flavor, very good ] [ Very tart, creamy, good flavor ]
  • Original: Nice tartness, fairly creamy, very good for this type of yogurt. [ Nice tart, nice creamy ] [ Nicely tart, pretty good for this type of flavor, slightly icy ]
  • Peanut butter: Creamy, soo much peanut butter flavor, awesome.  [ Soo much peanut butter flavor, really good. ] [ Creamy, rich, decandent, really good ] [ Creamy, rich, good flavor ]
  • Peppermint: Icy, decent flavor.
  • Strawberry: Kinda sweet, creamy, not my favorite.  [ Sweet and creamy, but not very distinctly strawberry, meh ] [ Tart, ok strawberry flavor, not great. ]
  • Lemon Cookie Crunch: One of the "luxe" toppings, a liquid with crunchy bits.  Very lemony, sweet, good with plain tart yogurt.
  • Milk Chocolate Crunch: Another "luxe" topping, basically chocolate sauce with crunchy bits.  Sweet, with a light chocolate flavor, great with peanut butter yogurt.  Crunch was nice texture, but I didn’t care for the crunchy stuff itself that much.
  • Peanut Butter Crunch: And another of the "luxe" toppings, a peanut butter sauce with crunchies.  It did not have much peanut butter flavor, but again had a nice crunch.
  • Almond Roca: Great crunch, yum, great with pb flavor yogurt.
  • Waffle Cookie.  Just a chunk of waffle cone, but kinda fun to dunk in the yogurt.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Breakfast Buffet at Mosiac Restaurant, Westin Sydney

Update Review July 2018 Visit

It had been 4 years since I last had breakfast at Mosaic Restaurant at the Westin Sydney, and, well, absolutely nothing changed.  Its fairly shocking to me actually, looking at the photos and offerings.  Identical.  Even the poor service and broken coffee machines are the same!

This will be a quick photo tour and brief update of the things I tried again on this visit.  At $45 per person (includes self serve tea and coffee), this was hugely over priced, and not nearly the quality of other hotel similarly priced buffets (like Feast! at the Sheraton on the Park, which was actually incredible - stay tuned for that review).

There were exactly 3 things worth consuming in this place: the coffee (decent, not amazing, but better than other hotel breakfast buffets), the bircher muesli (ok, I love this), and poached eggs (no better than others in Sydney, but I just adore the eggs in Australia).
Ronnefeldt Tea.
Tea is self serve, on the side, Ronnefeldt brand.
Juice & Water.
Cold beverages are very basic: apple, grapefruit, orange juice, and ice water.  Oh, and "tomato juice available on request".  Why did you need to request that one?

Not premium beverages at all, but you could opt to pay extra for fresh juice or sparkling water.
Mixed Berry Energizer / Carrot Zinger / After Eight.
And the same smoothies as 4 years ago too.  Seriously, they didn't even change those?
Robot coffee.
There are two coffee machines, one on each side of the buffet, one stocked with full cream milk, one with skim.

One needed something emptied, so it was just flashing and unusable.  The other, when I selected a decaf long black made a lot of noise, and had 3 sips trickle out.  I tried again, same effect.

I told not one, but two different staff members, who both just shrugged and didn't care in any way.  Sigh.
Robot Long Black.
The non-decaf worked, and gave a decent enough coffee.

A few days later the machine was back in action, I again got a regular, and it was again fine.  Again, not amazing, not complex, but, not bitter, not acidic, not too bad.  I was impressed enough.

Better than the Sheraton's, or more hotel coffee actually, so, one point for Westin and Mosiac.
Egg Cook & Hot Buffet.
As before, there is a cook is available for omelets and cooked eggs to order, and the majority of the space is hot items in chafing dishes.

The chafing dish lineup, literally, has not changed in 4 years.  At all.  It also never changed day to day, unlike Feast at the Sheraton where new items came on daily.
"Fried Egg Over Medium with Mushrooms / Spinach / Cheese."
It wasn't until my last day that I tried to order a made to order egg, having given up on everything else.  On my previous visit I had actually had some decent (although very mixed) success with made to order eggs.

I ordered as I did back then, a "fried egg over medium with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese.".  The egg cook confirmed that I didn't want an omelet, I said that was correct, I just wanted some mushrooms and spinach sauteed on the side and put on top, plus some melted cheese on top.

And this is what I got.

1) Fried egg it was.  "Over medium" it was not.  Not over at all.  Just a fried egg, yolk not even remotely set.  Crispy, slightly rubbery whites.  Not what I intended.

2) "mushrooms and spinach sautéed and put on top, plus cheese melted on top".  Uh ... uh ... the strange orange bits were a *tiny* amount of cheese.  Not what I intended.
"Fried Egg Over Medium with Mushrooms / Spinach / Cheese".
I looked under it, and at least discovered the mushrooms.  A couple tiny pieces stuck to the bottom.  No spinach to be found.

I wouldn't call this one a success.
Asian Noodle Station.
Next to one coffee machine is a Asian noodle station, with cold noodles, broth, soy sauce, bok choy, green onions, and fried onions.  I guess the broth is supposed to be hot enough to warm up the noodles?

Clearly, not at all like the made to order noodle bar, with multiple types of noodles, and a zillion more toppings, at Feast.

I tried the crispy shallots, they weren't anything special.
Noodle broth
The broth was just simple broth.
Congee Station.
Next to the other coffee machine, a similar looking station, this time with congee.  Again, soy sauce, green onions, fried shallots, but also fresh chili, pickled cabbage, and shredded pork were available.  No Chinese donuts!
Turkey Bacon / Turkey Sausage.
Poultry based meats, same as before.  Bacon looked flabby.
Crispy Pork Bacon / Pork Sausage.
And the pork versions, sausage and bacon.
Pancakes (Thursday).
I had tried the pancakes before and not liked them, but, breakfast carbs are my favorite, so, I tried again anyway.

They were tiny.  Gummy.  Cold.  No flavor.  Not good.

The only redeeming thing here is the real maple syrup bottle on the side.  But wow, bad pancakes.
French Toast (Friday).
The next day, french toast was in the place of the pancakes.  It looked equally horrible, but ... you know me.
"French Toast".
It was worse than the pancake, if that is possible.  Again, not really warm.  Again, slimy and gummy.  These items do not do well in steam pans.  It was also just plain wheat bread, simple egg wash, no spicing.  Really pretty awful.

They had maple syrup on the side again, and I smothered it, but I really lamented the lack of interesting toppings like the berry sauces and whipped cream from Feast.
Waffles (Saturday).
On Saturday morning, I was planning a light breakfast because I had brunch plans AND a BBQ lunch planned, and was just going to get a poached egg and a little muesli to tide me over until brunch, but I saw ... waffles.  And not thin soggy Eggo-style waffles.  They were liege style.  My plans were foiled.
Liege Waffle.
The waffle, like all the other items, was not hot.  It was soggy from the steam tray.  Seriously folks, look at other breakfast buffets, see how they are successful.  Items like this?  They go under heat lamps and on hot trays, not inside steaming vessels!

I was sad, but determined.  I could make this work.  It had potential.  I saw huge chunks of pearl sugar inside.  I smothered it in Nutella.  Getting better.  But still not quite there.

Then a fresh batch came out.  YES!  I grabbed another, plans for a "light breakfast" quickly vanishing, particularly as I had also already ordered made to order eggs (double oops).  And was ... soggier AND colder?  WHAT?!  Where do they keep these things when not on the line?

So ... I put it into the toaster.  It said "bread only", but, this was ~bread, right?  Shh.  Don't tell.  I stayed close in case I was about to become the idiot who caught things on fire.  The conveyer belt toaster did fine though, no problems.

It was much better after two cycles through the toaster.  Hotter, crispier.  And yes, signature liege style waffle, yeasted, sweet, and studded with big chunks of sugar.  In the end, I enjoyed it, particularly dunked in more sugar (no powdered sugar available, which would make more normal sense, but, I improvised!)
Roasted Rosemary Potato / Hash Brown.
Two types of breakfast potatoes.
Roasted Tomatoes / Button Mushrooms.
Same roasted tomatoes and simple button mushrooms as before, that no one touched.
"Seasonal Vegetables" / Baked Beans.
The "Seasonal Vegetables" were just green beans, served paired with baked beans.  The next day, bok choy.
Scrambled Eggs / Poached Egg.
The scrambled eggs were clearly scary, but I finally tried the poached egg, since, well, Australian eggs.

The poached eggs were clearly a hot item, replenished frequently, each in little (watery) bowls.  They somehow were never hot, even though so frequently restocked.
Poached Egg.
The first time I tried it, the poached egg was actually decent.  Nicely poached with a very oozy yolk, but the egg white was still a bit runny.  Still, great flavor in that egg.  Seriously, love Australian eggs.  I appreciated it with some S&P cracked on top, and with a mediocre baked good to mop up the yolk, but, this was no where near as good as the daily eggs benny specials at Feast or the Sheraton Executive Club Lounge.

The next day, I eagerly took another poached egg, when I saw the chef replenish the station.  A fresh one! Yes!

Except ... it was horrible!!! Stone cold.  Not runny inside, broken yolk that had solidified.  Um, no.

The third day? Watery, undercooked whites, and, sigh, cold.
Runny Yolk!
I tried again and again, selecting a puffier one from the bottom of the tray.  It might have been from an older batch, but at least it looked to have an in-tact yolk?

It did.  It oozed decently, but was still more cooked than usual.  And again though, stone cold.  Sigh.

I tried to order a fresh poach egg, but was just directed to the steam tray.  I don't understand how their buffet just fails to keep things warm properly, when other buffets can get this right ...
Poached Egg (with fried shallots, salt, pepper).
I always kept trying the poached eggs, but, they just weren't ever good.  It was sad, because I do love Australian eggs!

This one was at least well poached, no runny whites, but totally runny yolk.  But, not warm, as always.

I topped it with some fried shallots from the congee station, and fresh cracked pepper and salt from the table.  But alas, not great.
I started getting desperate.  With dreams of the amazing eggs benedict from Sheraton on the Park Executive Club and Feast Restaurant, with the most incredible hollandaise I've ever had, I finally just asked the egg chef if she had hollandaise, as I knew eggs benedict was on the a la carte menu.  She smiled, and gladly got me a little bowl of hollandaise.

I was a bit taken back by the appearance ... it was very thick.  It looked like cheese sauce, or mustard.  But still, I had hopes and dreams.

They were crushed.  It was cold.  It was ... lumpy.  Sorta like gravy that had too much cornstarch or flour added to it.  No rich flavor.  No lemon.  Perhaps the worst hollandaise I've ever had.  Seriously.
Boiled Egg.
Lastly, boiled eggs.

I tried one at one point, it was, well, a boiled egg.  Yolk fully cooked, no remarkable flavor, eh.
Ok, I lied. They did indeed change something. They added more condiments, randomly placed on the hot bar around the plates. Tomato sauce, bbq sauce, chile sauce, and worcestershire, all Beerenberg brand, plus tabasco and maple syrup.

These were valuable, given how flavorless all the food is.
Jams & Spreads.
Same selection of Beerenberg jams, butter or margarine, Kraft peanut butter, and nutella as before.  Do I even need to tell you how they jams pale in comparison to those at Feast?
Toast and Toaster.
Very basic sandwich bread toast and english muffins, along with a conveyer belt toaster.
Fancy Breads.
Slightly more appealing breads were located on the backside, honestly, quite hidden.

The display was attractive - look at the wheat! - but every type of bread was rock solid.
Gluten-Free Bread / Muffins / Granola / Muesli.

The gluten-free folks had their own section, with bread, muffins, and packaged muesli and granola, along with a dedicated toaster.
GF Almond Cinnamon Muffin.
My very last day, on the way out the door, not satisfied, I decided to grab a muffin.  A gluten-free muffin.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Hey at Sheraton on the Park, the gluten-free stuff was the best!

This ... was not.  Not a moist muffin, strange texture.  On top was a few sliced almonds and cinnamon sugar dusting.  It was crisp on top, which was mildly interesting.
Natural Muesli / Mountain Muesli / Almond & Quinoa Muesli / Graola Clusters / Premium Toasted Muesli.
#allTheMuesli.  Australians love their muesli?

Same annoying to serve spin dispensers as before, frustratingly jammed all the time, impossible to get just a little to come out.

I tried the granola.  Simple granola, meh.
Cereal & Milk.
Kellogg's boxed cereal for the non-muesli crowd: Sultana Bran, Cornflakes, Nutri Grain, Coco Pops and Special K.

Full cream, skim and soy milk on the side.
Nuts / Seeds / Dried Fruit.
Seeds (sunflower, chia, pepita), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts) and fruits (apple, paw paw, raisins).

I did wish they had the dark chocolate disks here, that they had in the same section in the lounge.  Too premium for the $45/head buffet?

Oh, and oatmeal on request.  It paid to read the signs I guess, if you wanted oatmeal or tomato juice ...
Cut Fruit.
The fruit lineup at Westin properties is usually a highlight, as they take the Westin Wellness brand quite seriously.  Here we had passionfruit, kiwi, oranges, and papaya.

It was a good selection but, not particularly ripe, sweet, nor good.  The passionfruit and kiwi were both quite sour.
Fruit / Yogurt.
Cut fruit continued with melons, pineapple, and giant grapes I first thought were blueberries.

They had incredibly sour skins and big pits inside.

I lamented the lack of berries, but, I know they weren't in season.

Individual pots of low fat Chobani yogurt were available in several flavors.
Bircher Muesli / Stewed Fruit.
And finally, my old favorite, the housemade bircher muesli!  Also in this section was a berry compote, stewed apricots, plums, and prunes.

The stewed plum was fascinating, a whole plum but eh.  The berry compote very mushy, clearly made from defrosted berry mush.  It was sweet, but eh.  I did regularly take a little of the sweet syrup from the apricots and prunes to drizzle over my muesli though.

And then, that muesli.  My old favorite.  I discovered bircher muesli the first time I came to Australia, and I've become a big fan, although, in my nature, a very particular fan.  Not too yogurt-forward, not too much apple, needs to be creamy, yes to mix-ins.  The Westin one had always delighted in the past.

The first day it was again great.  Super creamy, not too tart nor yogurtly, and absolutely loaded up with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and even topped with some coveted fresh berries.

I eagerly took a huge scoop the next day, only to find, alas, that it was really quite mushy.  Heartbreaking.
Bircher Muesli.
The third day?  Really tart and yogurty.  And mushy.  Sigh.  But still always topped with tons of nuts, seeds, fruits, and even high quality dark chocolate disks some mornings.

Fourth day?  Great toppings, decent enough muesli, not too mushy nor yogurty.  Seriously, such inconsistencies.
Premium Yogurt.
In addition to the low fat generic Chobani, they also had organic full fat yogurt, Queensland Youghurt Company brand, in natural, passionfruit, and blueberry, just like last time.  Sigh, why don't the offer the fun flavors!

As before, each pot had a comical tiny tiny tiny amount of either passionfruit or blueberry on top, but it was still enjoyable yogurt, full fat, super creamy and rich.  Almost like dessert, really.
The pastry section is extensive, and changes slightly daily, all claiming to be fresh baked.  And ... always highly disapointing.

The end station usually had the almond croissant and something else, sometimes donuts, sometimes other croissants, no consistency.
More Pastries.
The remainder of the items are in the full back display, nicely plated up, tempting looking, but ... no winners.  Not a single one.
Savory Croissant.
This was actually the only baked good I ever liked.  It was seed and herb crusted, and slightly savory, a bit flaky.  Good to soak up egg yolk.
Almond Croissant.
"Almond croissant with almond chips topping."

The almond croissant looked pretty good, crusted in powdered sugar and slivered almonds, but, alas, it wasn't a real twice baked croissant.  The croissant itself not buttery not flaky, the top only slightly crisp, mostly just due to the fact that almonds themselves are crispy.

The filling was the super sad part, as it was a really bitter gritty paste, and nearly nonexistant.  The filling is usually the best part of an almond croissant!
Every day had round little beignets, rolled in powdered sugar, and I remembered from my last visit that these were sometimes ok.

This however was not good.  Not fresh, even the sugar coating seemed stale and didn't help it out.  Nothing redeeming about it.
Beignet: Inside
Inside was a tiny bit of jam, not exactly generously stuffed, and it was just generic berry jam, nothing special.
Custard Triangle.
I recognized this one immediately.  It looks like a scone but ... totally isn't.

Filled with a tiny amount of custard, not enough to taste.  Fascinating top that is crispy, almost like feuilletine sprinkled on top, but, it isn't.  Not sure how they do that.

Anyway, I've seen these before at Sheraton on the Park, and been confused by them there too.  #notAScone
Pecan Finger.
They tricked me! I knew the pecan finger was no good, but this had pink stuff on top!  It turned out t be the same item, just with a few bits of freeze dried strawberry.

Same poor filling, same gummy top, same stale not flaky nor buttery pastry.  NO!
Chocolate Pudding Filled Crescent.
I'm not calling this a croissant, as, even if it looked like a crescent, it wasn't a laminated pastry, and clearly wasn't supposed to be.  More like a slightly sweet dinner roll, fluff and puffy, not flaky.

Inside was a bit of chocolate pudding.

Slightly interesting, but not actually very good.
Coconut Bread.
 Why did I start trying quickbreads?  I never like quickbreads.

I don't know.  I wanted a good pastry!

This was just a dense coconut cake/bread.  Eh.
Dried Fruit & Nut Bread.
This one also I believe had a coconut base, but was loaded with bits of dried fruit (ok), seeds (ok), and nuts (uh .... super bitter).  I didn't like it at all due to the horrible bitter aftertaste, almost as if it was rancid.
Apple Turnover.
I don't know why I took this.  I wanted "dessert"?

Not flaky, generic goo inside.  Moving on.
Salad / Cold Cuts / Dressing.
Moving along, we reach the salad area, with basic greens and tomatoes.  And very basic cold cuts: pepperoni, ham, turkey.  Two types of dressing, french and thousand island, plus balsamic and olive oil on the side.

I tried the thousand island to see if maybe it would work in place of hollandaise, but, I realized that didn't quite make sense.  It was fine thousand island, flavorful, creamy.  But totally not what to put on eggs, obviously.
Smoked Salmon / Accompaniments.
Next was a bit more veggies perhaps for salad (cucumbers, radishes), plus smoked salmon and its garnishes: lemon wedges, capers, thin sliced red onion, marinated feta cheese, cream cheese, and an awesome horseradish sour cream.

That sour cream was perhaps the tastiest thing in the buffet.  I literally ate it every day, not even paired with something some days.  Such great horseradish kick.
Cheese / Antipasti.
Finally, cheeses (sliced Wwiss and "low fat cheese", blue, brie, and cheddar), olives, sundried tomatoes, pearl onions, and sliced up gerkins.

The little pickle bits were tasty enough.

Original Review, September 2015

As you mostly likely know by now, given my slew of Sydney restaurant reviews, I visited in Sydney for two weeks in May.  On this visit, I stayed at the Westin (where I had also spent a week in January).  In January, I had executive club access, where I had breakfast every morning.  It was nice to have breakfast right there at the hotel, but it was never that great.  The the yogurt and bircher muesli jars were pretty much the only things that were halfway decent.

So in May, when I knew I was staying for two weeks, and thought that just eating yogurt and muesli would get old very fast, I opted for a rate with full breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Mosiac, instead.

The space is nice: the entire hotel is located within the GPO (General Post Office), a historic building.  The restaurant itself is in an interior atrium, with a glass ceiling, and plenty of sunshine.

The included breakfast was the buffet, normally $42 per person, which, honestly, is just a bit crazy.

Overall, it was certainly an upgrade from the executive lounge, as there were plenty more options, but it really was just a superset of what the lounge had to offer.  The baked goods, hot foods, fruit, meats, and cheeses were all still pretty lackluster.  The made-to-order egg station is a nice addition to just a buffet, but it was highly inconsistent.  I still prefer the Sheraton on the Park executive lounge's breakfast spread, which is really quite impressive.


Some buffets offer table service for drinks, but here all drinks are self-serve, both hot and cold, located in the buffet area. This includes water, so you needed to get up to refill your own water glass.  I didn't mind, but for the price point, I'd expect water glasses, and perhaps coffee cups, to be refilled at the tables.
Water, Apple Juice, Orange Juice.
Basic juices seemed like they were from concentrate.
Cranberry Juice, Grapefruit Juice.
The cranberry and grapefruit were a bit better, but, I am still guessing none of it was fresh squeezed.
Fancy Juices/Smoothies.
Each day there was also always a fancier juice and smoothie, in pitchers.  Presumably these were fresh.

The After Eight, made from kiwi, pear, mint, and apple was super sweet, a bit thick though.  

The Mixed Berry Energizer,  made from berries, honey, yogurt, skim milk was far too yogurty for me, I didn't really taste the fruit at all.

I didn't really care for these, but I appreciated that they made the effort to have healthy juices in addition to the standard ones.
Hot drinks were also self serve.  Tea was in a basket, with a urn of hot water.  The selection was decent, and included English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Yellow Gold Oolong, Lychee Black Tea, Jasmine Pearls, Chai, Jade Sword Green Tea, and Peppermint.
Coffee Maker.
Coffee came from a robot machine that could make espresso, americanos, and milk based beverages (whole milk).  The beans were ground fresh for each cup, which I appreciated, particularly for decaf.  Many places just use instant for decaf.

The coffee was fine, not particularly notable.

Breads, Cereals

I'm not one for basic breads and cereals generally, but I was there for long enough that I finally checked these areas out.  All were basic and standard, nothing notable.
Gluten-free Station. 
The country of Australia does a really, really good job with gluten-free.  I'm not gluten sensitive, but I'm always shocked by how gluten-conscious everywhere is there.  Every restaurant has either a dedicated gluten-free menu, or clearly labels items.  Airline lounges, hotel buffets, etc all have separate stations.  It really is quite impressive.

The gluten-free area had its own bread and bagels, packaged cereals, and even muffins.  I tried the chocolate muffin, but it wasn't very good, very dry.
For the gluten-eaters, a decent selection of sliced bread and english muffins were available, with a standard conveyor belt toaster.

The english muffins were just standard english muffins, nothing special, but nice to use to make egg and cheese sandwiches, with fried eggs from the egg station.
Raisin Toast.
One morning, fairly late into my stay, I decided to give toast a try.  I was kinda out of other options, and the raisin toast looked decent.  It came as very thick slices, loaded up with raisins.  I slathered it with butter, and I think with some cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top it might have been decent enough.  But, it was just raisin toast.
Jams, Spreads.
To go along with the toast was a station with little bots of Hank's jams, in assorted flavors.  They didn't seem like the highest quality jams.

There was also Beerenberg honey, Kraft smooth peanut butter, butter, margarine, Nutella, and of course, vegemite.  I give them credit for the Nutella, even though it isn't something I really go for.
The cereal line up was standard Kellogg's choices, just like in the lounge.  Granola Oat Clusters, Natural Muesli, NutriGrain, Special K, Cornflakes Sultana Bran, Coco Pops.

I tried the granola and muesli, but I didn't like either.  Untoasted, not very flavorful.

These dispensers were also infuriating.  They were jammed more often than not, and when you'd finally get some cereal, it usually came pouring out.  They also crushed the cereal.  I don't understand how these dispensers are so popular, when they just fail to do their basic job!
Nuts, Seeds, Milk.
Next to the cereal were walnuts, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds, to jazz up your breakfast, plus milk for the cereal.

Continental Selection

The center of the buffet housed the continental selection, none of which was interesting.
Salad Station.
The salad area had mixed leaf salad, cucumbers, olives, cherry tomatoes, peppers.

The olives were fine, unremarkable.

There was no dressing.  I didn't ever see anyone take salad.  Do people eat salad for breakfast?
Smoked Salmon and Accompaniments.
The smoked salmon station always looked good, the platter always kept full full.  Alongside were cubes of cream cheese, thinly sliced red onion, capers, and lemon wedges.

Since the Sheraton on the Park executive lounge had such good smoked salmon, I decided to try this one day, when the rest of my breakfast consisted of piles of baked goods, and I knew I should have some protein.

It wasn't good.  Chewy and stringy, flavorless, not smoky.  This must be why it was always full?  No one ate it?  I at least liked the capers.
Meat and Cheese.
These mostly seemed the same as offered in the lounge in the evening.

The meats were all just sliced deli meat: salami, turkey, and ham.  They never looked tempting.

The sliced cheeses were equally boring, swiss and "low fat cheese".

The "real" cheeses were slightly better, the cheddar had a decent sharpness to it, but the brie was pretty flavorless.
Dried Superfruits.
Next to the cheeses was a "dried superfruits" station with apricots, apples, and cubes of mixed tropical fruit.

Most days I finished my meal with a handful of the sweet cubed tropical fruit. None of it was awesome, but, it was sweet and good enough.

Fruit and Yogurt

The other side of the main area was a mecca of fruit and yogurt.   Like in the lounge, this tended to be the best of the options.
Stewed Fruit, Fresh Fruit.
The fruit section started with stewed fruit (pears, plums, apricots, and prunes), along with fresh fruit (mixed fruit salad, watermelon, grapes, and rockmelon).

The fruit salad sometimes had persimmon, strawberries, and star fruit, which I got excited for every time I saw them, but none were particularly good.

The stewed fruits were my best bet for adding a little fruit sweetness to my yogurts, but, they were just super sweet.
Fresh Fruit, Packaged Yogurt.
The fresh fruit continued with passionfruit, orange segments, kiwi, and pineapple chunks.

I was always excited for the passionfruit and kiwi.

The passionfruit was actually quite good.  Maybe this was just novelty to me, as I don't get it frequently in the US, but I loved sweet and tart flavor.

The kiwi was the best of the fruit, most days it was pretty good.

For packaged yogurt, there was Chobani greek yogurt in fat free or regular and Nestle Ski De Light brand low fat yogurts in assorted flavors.  I tried several of the yogurts (passionfruit mango and blueberry).  They were just standard light yogurt, runny and not creamy, very fake fruit tasting.  They did have little bits of fruit in them though.
Potted Yogurt, Bircher Muesli, Juice Shots.
The final items were the same as we had in the lounge, potted yogurts, muesli, and juice shots.

The yogurts were natural unsweetened yoghurt with granola and berry compote added.  The yogurt was way too tangy for my taste, and the granola on top was always incredibly soggy.  This is so sad, because I do love Australian yogurt, just not this yogurt.
The bircher muesli quickly became my favorite item.  Mixed with shredded apple, the right amount of yogurt to make it pleasantly creamy, but not too tart.  I even liked the scattering of dried fruit and seeds on top, but I always added more, either more dried fruit, or stewed fruit from the fruit bar, or even fresh passionfruit.  My favorite was just drizzling more of the fruit syrup from one of the compotes on top.

On my final day, the muesli was actually different.  It had a lot more random fruit inside (bits of stewed prunes, apricots) and was garnished with a strawberry and seeds rather than the dried fruit.  It wasn't as sweet, and was thicker.  Sadness.  But the other days, this was a real winner.

The final item here was little juice shots, dubbed Carrot Ginger Zingers.  I tried it one day, and, well, yes, that was zinggy!  The ginger was crazy strong.

Hot Foods

The hot food selection never changed from day to day.  This was disappointing, as I was hoping to see some variety here, even if the rest of the buffet never changed.  Even the Sheraton on the Park executive lounge breakfast buffet changed out their hot foods, but alas, nothing ever changed here.

In particular, I'd love to see the simple pancakes alternated with other selections, like french toast, waffles, or even flavored pancakes.  Or some hot porridge?  The Westin executive lounge hot food buffet always included a subset of these items, and it did rotate somewhat, since it featured fewer items every day.

The hots foods here were just as unappealing as up in the executive lounge, although there were always more options.
Swiss Pork Veal Sausages, Bacon.

The first station of breakfast meats never looked worth trying.  Flabby bacon, and "Swiss Pork Veal Sausages".  I love breakfast sausage, but not this style.
Turkey Sausage, Turkey Bacon.
So, I don't like poultry.  Certainly not chicken, not roast turkey.  But ... turkey bacon I can sometimes really like.  I can't explain it.  So, again, several days into the buffet, I finally decided to try these things.

The sausage I really didn't like.  It was seared on the outside nicely, but, well, it tasted like turkey.  My own fault I guess.

The turkey bacon I had decent hopes for, given that, uh, I even like the turkey bacon at Starbucks (shh, don't judge!)  This I didn't like.  It was just kinda flappy, moist from being inside the steam tray, and not crispy.  Meh.
Poached Eggs, Scrambled Eggs.
Since the scrambled eggs in the executive lounge were so so strange, and these looked the same, I skipped them here too.

The poached eggs were decent, well poached with nice runny center, but I always found they weren't quite warm enough.  They did replenish this station frequently, so it was easy to watch and get one fresh (or, likely, fresh out of the water bath where they were being held).
Boiled Eggs.
And, more eggs.  Hard boiled.  I never tried these.

Pancakes with Maple Syrup.
Sure, buffet pancakes aren't generally very good, but, at the Sheraton on the Park executive lounge buffet they sometimes did a decent job.  Not here.

These were just gummy and flavorless.  And like most of the hot foods, strangely moist from being held in a steam tray.

I did appreciate the pot of maple syrup on the side, as I added it to most of my other food.  I know, I have a sugar problem, but, hash browns, bacon, eggs, etc are all just so much better with syrup!
Hash Browns, Roasted Potatoes.
The hash browns and roasted potatoes never looked good, but I saw Ojan take the hash browns several times, so I finally tried one.

Triangle style, shredded potato style.  It was not good.  Not really hot, and very, very oily.  Even slathered with maple syrup, I wasn't able to enjoy it, since all I tasted was oil.
Mushrooms, Roasted Tomatoes.
I never tried either of the first veggie selections, roasted mushrooms and tomatoes.
Green Beans, Baked Beans.
The next veggie station was ... beans, green and baked.

I never tried the green beans, since they really just don't seem like breakfast to me.

I did eventually try the baked beans.  There were several varieties of beans, they were not too mushy, and not too hard.  Decently cooked, but alas, I didn't care for the flavor of the sauce.
Soy Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce.
The buffet also featured soy sauce and sweet chili sauce.

I love adding sauces to my food.  But ... I really couldn't ever find a use for soy sauce or sweet chili sauce on my breakfast items.  These seems like strange accompaniments, and I never saw anyone use them.

I did try the sweet chili sauce at once point, and it was exactly the kind I like - sweet, gooey.  But honestly, what was I supposed to use it with?

Made to Order Eggs

The buffet had a nice addition of a made to order egg station on the side, offering up omelets and eggs cooked however you wanted.

The quality of what you got however was highly inconsistent.  I tried an omelet one day, and it was really overcooked, super dry, and only had a tiny sprinkle of cheese.  Meh.
Egg Over Medium.
I'm not generally an egg eater, but I do like a good egg and cheese on english muffin.  So, one day, I threw an english muffin in the toaster, got some of the decent cheddar, and ordered an egg over medium to throw on it.

It certainly wasn't medium, the yolk was fully cooked.  The whites were really tough.  It was totally unseasoned, and just not very good at all.  The chef didn't even look to be paying attention while preparing it.

I tried again a few days later, with a different chefs.  I ordered two eggs over medium.  This time they were perfectly cooked, and I really should have taken a photo.  Stunning.  The whites were perfect, the yolk still a bit runny.  Since I knew the egg chef had the makings for omelets, I also asked for some spinach on top, and she took such care in sautéing up some spinach on the side, in a separate pan, and then laying it on top.  Really nicely done!
Egg Over Medium, topped with spinach, onion, mushroom.
Given the success of my second attempt, I tried a third time, again with toppings, but alas, this did not work.  The egg yolks were fully cooked, the whites rubbery, and the veggies drenched in oil.

Sorry I never got a photo of the decent eggs!

Pastry Station

I was excited to see an extensive baked goods area, since baked goods are always my favorite part of breakfast.  Sadly, the pastries looked exactly like the same ones I had encountered in the executive lounge, and they were truly dreadful.  And indeed, they were the same.  And they were again almost all dreadful.  Ugh.
Danishes, Croissants.
A sign on the side listed the varieties of pastry available, but wasn't really accurate.

Not listed anywhere was the item on the far left, jelly donuts!  I remembered these from the lounge  as perhaps the only baked good that wasn't horrible.  I had one again on my first day at this buffet.  Just like before, the donut itself was kinda stale tasting and fried, but, I liked the crispy outside (not that that is normally a feature of a donut) and the jam inside.  It, like before, was almost good.

Then I had one a few days later, and it was gross.  It tasted oily and old, and even all the sugar on the exterior couldn't save it.  The jelly inside was indeed good though.
Plain Croissant.
The croissant varieties listed on the signage were linseed, almond, ham and cheese, or mini plain.  I never saw the ham and cheese ones however, and there were also chocolate filled ones coated in powdered sugar and large plain ones that were not listed.

I started with the almond.  It was not flaky and not moist.  It was oily and not buttery.  It was chewy even.  Really, a gross croissant base, and this was consistent across all their croissants.  It had a dried out almond paste and sliced almonds on top.  Not a winner.

The long croissant with powdered sugar on top turned out to be chocolate, which wasn't listed on the menu as a croissant.  The croissant dough was again not flaky nor buttery, and inside was just a stick of chocolate.  Unremarkable.

Next I tried the other long one, assuming it would be the listed ham and cheese, since the other long one clearly had seeds in it, and must be the linseed.  But ... it didn't have any ham nor cheese in it, and seemed to just be plain.  It also turned out to be my favorite of the baked goods, and I was sad I didn't try it until my second to last day.  Perhaps I just lucked out, but the exterior was actually a bit flaky.  Inside was doughy.  No, it wasn't a perfect specimen of a flaky, buttery croissant.  But, for a buffet croissant, I actually really quite enjoyed it.  It had a pleasant sweetness and savoriness to it.  Good with jam, dunked in the yolk from a poached egg, or honestly, even just on its own.

The final day, I went back for the plain large croissant, and, it was again good!  I even enjoyed it plain, which is a testament, I normally slather my plain croissants in all sorts of toppings.  I really wish I had discovered these sooner, and it makes no sense to me that all the others were so awful, yet the plain were fine.

The mini plain croissant was not as good, and matched the other croissants - dry, stale, not flaky, not buttery, rather gross.

The linseed was just like the others, dry, not flaky, studded with seeds.
Guava Danish. Diamond Custard.
The danishes listed on the sign were: Apple Turnovers, Guava, Diamond Custard, Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Raisin Scroll, Chocolate Custard.

I never discovered the chocolate custard danish, and I'm guessing the chocolate croissant was what they were considering a chocolate danish?

I tried what must have been the guava danish.  This is the mystery danish that I wasn't able to identify when I had it in the Westin executive lounge.  I said it had a "a center filled with a reddish paste (jam?)".  I thought it might be quince.  It turned out to be guava I guess.

The pastry was again crappy, but I liked the sweet filling, so I extracted it and added it to my muesli.

The Diamond Custard had a custard filling that was really bad.  Warm custard is not a good thing.  And of course, the pastry base was gross.

The Mixed Berry danish again had the poor pastry base and some mediocre mixed berry jam/paste inside, with a lattice and drizzle of icing on top.  Not good.

The apple turnover however was the worst.  The pastry itself wasn't any worse than the others, and perhaps was even a bit flaky, but the filling was just a big pile of mush.  I really did not like it.
Muffins: Chocolate, Blueberry, Raspberry, Cinnamon Roll.
The sign didn't mention cinnamon rolls, but they were there every day.

I of course tried one, since, well, cinnamon rolls.  It was totally dried out.  Burnt even.  And it didn't have any cinnamon flavor.

Moving on to the muffins.  I knew that I hated the blueberry and raspberry muffins in the lounge, so this time I tried the chocolate.   It was not the worst thing ever, but was basically a chocolate cupcake or brownie.  Really not a breakfast item.  I liked the little chocolate chips strewn on top.  It was also strangely moist on top ... which works for a chocolately item.  It was  not a good muffin, but not the worst thing on offer.  I particularly liked it if I slathered it with peanut butter.  Because, well, chocolate and peanut butter.  I never said I was a healthy breakfast eater!

Of course, I tried the chocolate one again a few days later, and, it was drier, staler, and had a strange bitter funk to it.  I'm wondering if perhaps they actually only bake these off every couple days, and it depends how fresh you get them?  Next time, I'll have to collate my experiences with day of the week ...

I also tried a raspberry almond muffin in a fit of desperation (er, curiosity).  It was just as bad as I recalled: really strange base flavor, only one raspberry in the whole muffin, gross, gross.
The quickbread menu listed banana and carrot, but there was a third variety.  I tried it, and it was loaded up with nuts, seeds, and fruit.  I can't even list all the things I found in it, but it definitely contained dried apple, dried apricot, macadamias, and a bunch of seeds.  Perhaps I'd call it a muesli loaf?  It was ok but nothing special.

The banana bread was dry and not very tasty.

Not listed on a sign anywhere were some rolls in a basket next to the breads (not in this photo).  I thought that they would be sweet, perhaps the chocolate custard filled item I couldn't find before?  Nope.  They turned out to be ... a sundried tomato savory rolls.  Given that I thought it was going to be sweet chocolate, this was quite the surprise.  And, like everything, it was dry and totally stale tasting.  Sigh.
Mosaic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato