Bakery

Semi Sweet Bakery – The Crullant

by Franklin on March 12, 2014

Semi Sweet Bakery in Downtown is one of the many places to get cronuts in Los Angeles. Dubbed the name, “crullant”, theirs was more of a hybrid between a croissant and a French cruller. Behind Semi Sweet Bakery is Sharlena Fong, a New York based pastry chef. The cafe bakery was small, chic, and filled with so many baked goodies.


The Crullant was quite nice, and one of the best “cronut” renditions I have had. It was delicate and not too sweet. I liked the fact that this tasted clean and more like a pastry, not oil. A lot of cronuts have that fried oil taste, and I appreciated that this one didn’t have that taste. The glaze was not too much, and gave the crullant a perfect sweet taste. I also liked that there was a lot of layers from the pastry. It gave it a nice texture and flavor.

The Peanut Butter Ding a Ling was tasty. A spin on the Hostess Ding Dong, this one was quite decadent. The peanut butter filling combined with the rich chocolate flavor went so well together. I’m not really a ding dong fan, but this rendition was quite delicious.

Semi Sweet Bakery is almost a perfect bakery. They have some top quality pastries and nothing is too over the top. The ode to the ding dong was nostalgic and the crullant is nearly perfect. Next time, I must try the maple bacon sticky bun.

Semi Sweet Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Little Next Door – Parisian Brunch

by Franklin on February 15, 2014

Find your passport, grab a plane, and fly over to Paris. Grab brunch at your local brasserie, and there is your European/French breakfast with freshly baked bread and all the classics. Instead, drive down 3rd Street near Crescent Heights and you will be at Little Next Door. The French inspired brasserie is spot on with the colors, cuisine and bakery selections. I enjoyed the food and Little Next Door is a great contender amongst the many breakfast spots in this area.

We started things off with a caramel latte. Doctors say, drink water in the morning to jump start your internal organs. Well, caffeine does the same, except really fast. Coffee Latte over water always! We missed the latte art, but this large cup of caramel latte was delicious. Not too sweet, the coffee flavor was pure and delightful. It was creamy, delicious, and all I could wish was to have had this last with our dessert.

We were treated with some delicious bread. One could only assume this was all made in house. It was light, airy and perfect with the olive oil and balsamic mix. The mixture was sweet, acidic, and was zesty from the herbs and garlic inside. I was glad there wasn’t a lot of bread that was served — that would have been bad.

The Croque Madame is almost the perfect breakfast. It is cheesy, has ham, and of course, a runny egg on top. The grilled ham in this one was really nice in quality. You could taste the freshness and the actual pork flavor came out. This open faced sandwich made with whole wheat bread was a covered in amazingly melted and toasted cheese. The combination with the simple vinaigrette salad was satisfying. The simplicity of this dish is what made me enjoy it.

Eggs Benedict is another one of those classic brunch menu items. We opted for the Wild Mushroom Eggs Benedict. I appreciated the lightness and delicate Hollandaise sauce. It usually is a bit on the sour side or rich with too much butter. Theirs was just a compliment to this dish. The mushrooms were the star — it had a good bite to it with an earthy flavor. The egg was poached perfectly, and the egg yolk was warm and running. I appreciated that the bread was toast with crust cut off instead of an English muffin. This made it easy to cut and eat with a fork. The side house green salad went well with this dish.

Of course, we had to finish things off with macarons. My favorite was the caramel, something the waiter picked out for us. The other 3 were total misses. I tried a bunch of macarons in my day, and these were just so-so. The inside was moist, but a little too moist, almost wet. The outside crust was nice, but the inside was a bit off. A good macaron has a nice firm outer crust, and the inside should be light, then dense as you chew. Their flavors were ok, but the texture was a bit off. I wish I had a chance to try some of their other pastries and baked goods.

Little Next Door does a good job in bringing France to 3rd Street. The decor is on point, and the food items are delicious. I could only imagine food in France to be only slightly better (maybe a little more than slightly). It was relaxing eating brunch outside, people watching and seeing the cars wiz by on the street. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it is safe to say breakfast is king here.

Little Next Door on Urbanspoon

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Bouchon is an Icon. Having been to the restaurant in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles, and the bakery at the Venetian, going to the bakery in Los Angeles was on my final to do list. Not that anything is different, but the conqueror of all food in me wanted to just go. Directly below the Bouchon restaurant right across the Montage courtyard is the small Bouchon Bakery. There, a display of cakes and endless colorful macarons catch your eye immediately. With eyes bigger than my stomach, I started to order.

The Boston Cream doughnut was my first bite. All the chocolate got on the bag and left me with a mess…and not enough chocolate. The doughnut was a bit greasy and each bite filled my mouth with oil. I mean, a donut from a pink box is pretty perfect, a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme, even better. This “gourmet” doughnut, on the other hand didn’t have any qualities of a good donut.

Macarons are a must at Bouchon. I ordered the caramel and pistachio flavored macaron. Both were exceptional as always. The caramel had a nice burnt caramel taste. It was sweet and delicious. The pistachio was good and had a nice rounded out flavor. If ordering macarons these two flavors are a must.

Another item to consider is the pain au chocolate. A classic for sure at any French bakery, this chocolate filled croissant was flakey to the max. You don’t want to eat this in your friends new car. What was even more flakey and sweet was their kouign amann. This was amazing. This pastry was filled with layers of butter and sugar. I was almost too sweet, but in a good way.

Did I eat all of these pastries in one sitting? Maybe. Was it an awesome day with perfect weather at the courtyard? Yes! Whenever I go to Bouchon Bakery, I need to get as many things as possible. That way, I can try them all. Most other bakeries, I would just get one item and be happy with it. Here, it’s like I’m at a candy shop and get an assortment of things. Bouchon Bakery is always a good idea. Always.

Bouchon Bakery on Urbanspoon

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You pull up into Alicia’s parking lot and you immediately as yourself, “there’s a restaurant here”? I know it seems like the last place for a restaurant. Among some random businesses and factories sits a quaint restaurant serving up some great breakfast items and sandwiches. Alicia’s is a down to earth restaurant cafe. More along the lines of Panera Bread, the feeling you get inside the place is “Grandma’s Kitchen”. Whatever you order, it makes you feel good inside — it just tastes fresh and delicious and you don’t feel guilty afterwards.

Their signature sandwich, and one of my favorites is the pink cloud. It is a turkey sandwich that is whiped up with a mix of cream cheese and cranberry. The cream cheese and cranberry mix makes a pink like shmeer, thus forming, pink cloud. The taste is so familiar and clean — the turkey is of the highest quality, and mixed in the the cream cheese and cranberries give it that Thanksgiving essence. Every turkey sandwich should have this concoction of cream cheese and cranberry mix — a perfect turkey sandwich.

I typically do not enjoy tuna sandwiches. Tuna should always be eaten as a steak or better yet, raw. The tuna sandwich to me is a bit boring, and actually, a bit too fishy for me. Alicia’s though, it wasn’t fishy at all. The tuna was clean tasting and wasn’t mayo heavy — a good thing! My favorite topping of all time on a sandwich is sprouts. The sprouts went well with the tuna salad and the addition of pickles was a life saver. As far as tuna sandwiches go, it was decent — decent enough for a tuna sandwich hater like me to enjoy.

I had a walnut strawberry salad with vinaigrette to share. There’s nothing tastier and of course healthier than having a fresh salad with your sandwich. Potato chips are boring and greasy — salads are the way to go. Their walnut strawberry salad was refreshing and perfectly balanced. The vinaigrette wasn’t too sweet, but had the perfect acidity. The red onions and walnuts with the strawberry made for a nice complex flavor and texture — delicious!

The best part about ordering a sandwich at Alicia’s is that you get free treats! For dessert, you don’t get to pick and choose, but we got a whole variety of cookies and tarts. Not a fan a lemon anything in desserts, their lemon tart might have been my favorite. The brownie was chocolaty and addicting and their while chocolate macadamia cookie was near perfect. My all time favorite cookie, the snicker doodle was definitely my favorite. It was chewy and butter and of course, sugary. Alicia’s could might as well be a bakery of desserts, and business would be booming.

Alicia’s is a bit hard to find. Hidden in the “business” center, blended with all of the offices nearby, Alicia’s is definitely a gem. Most of their items are simple and healthy with an affordable feel. The service is friendly and down to earth. Nothing about Alicia’s is pretentious. I always come back when I want something down to earth that’s a little different — and by different, I mean something you wouldn’t expect. They pack the perfect to-go sandwich sack lunches. In the brown back, you get your pink cloud, an apple for health, and cookies like mom makes. This is definitely the sack lunch you wish you had as a kid. Whoever you are Alicia, your kids are lucky.

Alicia's Cookery on Urbanspoon

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Brea has some of the “best” stuff around. I use this term because, well, they claim it on their restaurant name. You have Brea’s Best, which blatantly claims to have the best burgers in Brea. Now, we have Beverly’s Best. Though technically in Fullerton, it is practically in Brea. Known for their grandeur specialty cakes, I was more interested in their pastries and dessert items. After lunch, I made it a treat to come here for something sweet.

I must say, our dessert was much larger than our actual lunch. We had the fruit tart, cherry scone, chocolate cupcake, and Key lime bar.

The fruit tart had mandarin oranges, blueberries pineapple, kiwi, strawberry, and a raspberry. The custard inside was perfectly sweet and creamy, but the best part was the crust. It wasn’t too buttery or cookie like, but had the perfect balance of crisp and density. This was a solid fruit tart, and something to consider if you are only going to get “not a cake”.

If you do want a cake, but not a whole cake, their cupcakes can be something to consider. Though you get the whole cake experience without getting the whole thing, their cupcakes to me were average. Nothing really stood out. Their chocolate cupcake was light and fluffy, but the frosting was nothing spectacular. I tend to like more dense cakes, especially in cupcakes, and I like more dense frosting, like icing. Theirs was more in the middle. It wasn’t really sweet, it wasn’t really dense, it was just average.

The cherry scone was a surprise, taste wise and in other ways. The scone was dense and almost bready, and the fruit inside was flavorful. I ate this inside of a movie theatre and a dark one at that. I did not know there was a filling inside, and a lot, if not, most of the filling fell on my shirt. Luckily, I was wearing a black shirt, and I just wiped it off. I’m sure nobody saw. It was dark…it was dark. Nobody saw. Though messy, their scones are something to consider.

The Key lime bar was interesting. The texture was that of cheesecake, but the taste was totally different. With a definite sour, citrus profile, it was indeed tart. The lime flavor was very prevalent in this and although it was sour, it didn’t make me pucker intensely. I feel the Key lime bar could have used a bit more sour to balance out the sweet. I like sour flavors, and if this made me pucker just a little bit more, it would have been perfect.

Beverly’s Best was an interesting experience. The boutique shop of pastries and specialty cakes had a upscale feel with a down to earth attitude. Rare to find the two in the same category, I found that this bakery was unique it its own way. Hidden away in a strip mall nest to a video store (yes they still exists), this is truly a gem. I was there just to get some snacks, and people just kept coming to pick up their jazzed up cakes. In the short time I was there, 3 different people were there to pick up their cake. I’m not all about fancy cakes with all the color and designs, but this is really making me consider. Maybe next time for someone’s birthday, someone will get a nice surprise. :)

Beverly's Bakery on Urbanspoon

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