I recently made another stop at City Cafe while running errands. My wife and I stopped here on the way home to pick up some desserts to sample. Previously, I started this comprehensive review by enjoying a lunch, then I came back for some desserts, and then back again for another meal. I didn’t stay long enough on this stop to get any new information on the restaurant, so this will simply be a quick review of some treats we brought home to enjoy.
They had some Easter themed foods on display, so I figured I should try at least one of them. I chose one of the $0.45 Hot Cross Buns. I had never heard of these, but my wife was apparently familiar with them. They were basically mini brioche buns that had some sort of a clear glaze over them, and then were crossed with an “X” of icing.
The brioche itself was great. It was very sweet, fresh and soft. I expected the clear glaze coating the bun to be some sort of honey or other sugary coating. Instead it was a gelatinous texture that was very odd. It was sweet, which I was thankful for, but had a similar consistency to chicken fat that had been chilled in the refrigerator. It was slightly off-putting.
I couldn’t really taste the minimal streaks of white icing that crossed the bun. There just wasn’t enough of it to overcome the larger bun.
I heated the bun and it became super soft. It really was close to perfect.
Unfortunately, it was the toppings that took away from it, especially that gel coating around the outside. The icing could have been a plus, but it was just too minimal of an amount.
Next, I got a favorite of mine, the Key Lime Tart. This $2.95 tart had a really nice presentation.
It was about three inches across and made with the standard layers that included a crust key lime filling, and whipped topping.
The crust was not a graham cracker variation that’s usually found on key lime pies. This was more of a standard pie crust. It was a firm crust that held everything together well, and had the same buttery taste of most pie crusts, without the flakiness.
On top of the key lime filling was a dollop of an oil based whipped topping. You know my opinion of these toppings, so I’ll just leave it be. Sitting in the whipped topping was a very fresh raspberry, blackberry, and one of those lime flavored, sugar coated gelatin candies.
The key lime filling was superb! Sweet, light, and so creamy, with a moderate tang of lime. It might have been the best key lime filling I’ve had. For those that live in the South, I hope this puts it in perspective. This key lime filling may have been even better than Publix’s brand. Next time I see a full slice of key lime pie at City Cafe, it will be a must have item. If they only would have used real whipped cream, this could have gotten a perfect score.
My wife ordered a couple gluten-free options for herself. I tried enough of both to rate them to my tastes. The first dessert was found by accident. We have noticed that over the last several weeks, City Cafe has begun to label items that are gluten-free in their dessert case. Out of curiosity, my wife asked if there was anything else in the case that was gluten-free, but not labeled. The employee pointed to a cake on the top shelf. A cake? She never even thought to look at the cakes before, but sure enough, she was looking at a S’mores Flourless Chocolate Cake.
The $2.95 square cake slice had a flourless base topped by a layer of fudge, then more fudge drizzled over mini marshmallows at the peak.
The marshmallows were really soft, letting us know they were fresh out of the bag. They sat on that thin fudge layer, which had just enough flavor to be noticed without drowning out the rest of the ingredients with too much sweetness.
The cake, being flourless, had a density that was much closer to a brownie than a cake. It was still moist, and had a moderate chocolate flavor.
I really like the texture that flourless cakes have. It’s like a brownie, but with a bit more grittiness. Normally grittiness is something we try to avoid in gluten-free foods, as it’s usually a sign of poorly made baked goods. With the flourless cake though, the higher density seems to mesh well with the rough texture. We both liked the cake, and were happy with the newest option in City Cafe’s gluten-free lineup.
My wife also grabbed an Almond Horn for $1.95.
The Almond Horn was a marzipan cookie shaped into a horseshoe. The ends were then dipped into chocolate to add an additional sweet flavor.
The outside was covered in almond slivers. This cookie had a very similar taste to that marzipan Milano Cake I tried during the last review.
The texture was similar to a brownie, although a little chewier. There was a firmer crust surrounding it, plus the crunchy almonds on the exterior.
If you like the flavor of almonds, you would probably really like this. I think almonds are pretty good, but I usually don’t like them in my desserts. The Almond Horn had enough sweetness to hold my interest. It’s not something I’d order normally, but my wife loves them for both their taste and her ability to eat them.
The next cake slice was a Carrot Cake, and it was all for me.
At around five inches, it wasn’t a large slice, but reasonable enough for $2.95.
It consisted of three layers of carrot cake with layers of cream cheese frosting in between each. All the frosting layers were about a quarter of the total quantity of cake. This included the top layer that was about twice as thick as the others, and had a granular texture from the added sugar.
The cake was very moist, as is always the case at City Cafe, and each bite had tiny morsels of carrot that gave just a hint of chewiness. One odd thing I found included, were a few white raisins mixed in with the cake. I only tasted about four of them but they were an unusual addition, and just like the carrots, added a sweetness and chewiness. I thought it offered an interesting change that made this slice just a little different from the norm.
This little carrot on the top was the same cream cheese frosting as the rest of the top layer, only colored like the cake’s main flavor.
The back of the cake had chopped walnuts stuck in the icing, and I have to say, they were quite delicious.
I loved the crunch they gave on an otherwise really soft cake. I’m going to go so far as to say that this may be first time I’ve actually liked nuts on my dessert as opposed to just accepting them. I can’t explain why, but they just seemed to work perfectly with the carrot cake.
My last taste today was a $1.25 Cinnamon Bun.
Immediately I could see there was plenty of icing on top, which we all know is the best part of the bun. I had heated up the bun to the point where the icing had just begun to melt and start flowing.
Once again, City Cafe had added what appears to be a favorite ingredient of theirs in the baked goods, white raisins. We have previously seen this in the above carrot cake, and also in the previously reviewed oatmeal raisin cookie. Granted, the cookie is supposed to have raisins, but the white ones are not usually the type we see.
The cinnamon bun also had chopped walnuts baked inside. On that subject, the cinnamon was also baked in, and not added through a composite ingredient.
After doing so many reviews, I have learned that this is the proper way to make a true high quality cinnamon bun. The cinnamon should not be part of a sugary gel substance, it should naturally be by itself and baked right into the pastry. The texture of the bun was a little firm but I can’t hold that against them since I had purchased it at the end of the day, let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours while not properly sealed, and then reheated it in a microwave. Had I purchased it fresh in the first half of the day, and then heated it conventionally (you know, with heat), it probably would have been much softer and possibly more flaky. I believe it deserves another shot during a future visit. This time it will be rated as it was.
On the food front, there’s not much more to say since my opinion of City Cafe’s desserts is obvious. My wife and I have discussed putting more focus of this blog into gluten-free dining. Many people, like her, have gluten sensitivities and are interested in knowing where to find gluten-free foods. Seeing that City Cafe is starting to label their foods for the gluten-free aware, I plan on talking with them on their plan to expand the gluten-free options, and see whether more products will start showing up with these labels.
See the next installment for City Cafe here.