It’s been a while since I last visited Highland bakery in Atlanta. You can find reviews of my last two visits here: Part 1, Part 2. I had been dying to get back and try a meal I had on my first ever visit, before I started doing these reviews. During my last meal that I reported, I ordered a plate of French toast, but made mention of their Peanut Butter French Toast. I wasn’t completely in love with the peanut butter version when I first had it, due to the brown sugar butter that was served in lieu of maple syrup. When I learned that I could order regular maple syrup for both French toast plates, I was ready to give the peanut butter another shot.
Last time I gave a fairly thorough review of the atmosphere, so this time I’ll jump right into the food. Before getting to the French toast, I’ll introduce my first order, the $12.99 Crab Cakes Benedict.
It’s one of five Benedict choices at Highland Bakery. The others include Classic Eggs, Cowboy (Tex-Mex flavors), Country Fried Steak, and Fried Chicken. The Crab Cakes style included the named seafood, spinach, and the standard English muffin, eggs, and hollandaise.
The medium poached eggs each sat on top of a lump crab cake, which was layered above the sautéed spinach covered muffin. The entire thing was covered in hollandaise and heavily sprinkled with paprika.
I did not have really high expectations for the crab cakes since I was in a bakery and not a fine dining establishment. As it turned out, I was actually really happy with the way they tasted. While the quantity was a little light, they had a great even flavor of crab and breading. I happened to see the black mustard seeds that had been cooked right into the cakes, but had I not seen them, I may not have realized they were there as the taste eluded me.
The spinach underneath had the exact opposite effect. There was plenty of it, in fact I’d say it was borderline too much. I don’t know for sure if it wasn’t cooked well or if I just found the bitter flavor off putting, but the spinach overpowered the flavor of the crab, which was supposed to be the main flavor of this dish. It had definitely been cooked until wilted, but it was slightly tough to cut, and made a mess of each Benedict when I tried to cut it. Spinach has a very standout flavor, and I think if it’s used on something like an eggs Benedict, it should be used in moderation.
I also wasn’t happy with the English muffin on the bottom. Every eggs Benedict I’ve had in the past has had a crispy muffin. This one was soft and soggy. It tasted fine, but it’s the contrasting texture I look forward to with the crispy base, and this one failed to provide that.
The eggs were cooked perfectly. As stated on their menu they were poached medium, leaving the yolk soft and almost runny, but stiff enough to hold when I cut the egg open.
I had higher hopes for this version of their Benedict lineup, but was disappointed with the bottom two layers of spinach and the muffin. The Fried Chicken Benedict has been highly recommended to me by a friend, so I’ll have to try that one next. I chose the most expensive version this time due to the exotic nature of a seafood breakfast, and hoped for something unique. In the end, it was nothing memorable. It could in fact use some improvement.
My Benedict came with a side of roasted potatoes or grits. I chose the one I knew was a winner every time, the potatoes. As I hoped, they were just perfect. Well roasted, buttery, and salty, they had a fantastically delicious spice combo that made them some of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve ever tasted. I was once again as pleasantly surprised as the first time I tried them.
Finally, it was time to try the one I had been waiting for. My first thought after it was placed on the table was that the $8.99 breakfast looked not only smaller than I remember, but smaller than most of the photos I had recently seen online. It also seemed to have a bit of a dried out look, but that could have just been the bran flakes encrusted on the outside. As I requested, it was served with maple syrup rather than the standard brown sugar butter that it typically comes with.
As it turns out, the meal’s looks were not deceiving. The exterior was quite dry, especially when compared to what I remembered from the first time I ate this meal. However, towards the middle, the bread was still very soft and airy. This is most likely due to the extreme thickness of the challah bread they use. It is probably very difficult to cook such a thick slice evenly throughout. Overall, I found the toast to be fairly well cooked and the majority had the softer texture of the inside.
Another thing that was disappointing was the apparent lack of peanut butter that I was expecting, once again from my memories of the first visit, and internet photos. For such a thick slice of bread, the thin layer of peanut putter in between the two got lost. When I opened the toast, I thought the peanut butter also looked a little over cooked, or possibly old, like it was made a day prior. It was firm, and caked onto the bread, rather than creamy and sticky.
I wonder if my change from the typically full coating of brown sugar butter mixed with caramelized bananas was the reason for all the differences I found from one visit to the next. Another explanation could have been the two different locations I ordered this. I was certainly very satisfied with the provided syrup, as they gave me proper 100% maple syrup, and not a commercially made corn syrup based product. I did ask why mine didn’t come with the caramelized bananas that it’s advertised with, and was told that they are included with the prepared brown sugar butter mixture that I was trying to avoid. I was disappointed that I hadn’t been warned that my alteration from one “syrup” to another would so drastically change the integrity of the meal, from dryer toast, to lack of caramelized bananas. The server did end up bringing me a bowl of fresh, sliced bananas, but it was nowhere near the same as having caramelized ones in a sweet sauce.
I suppose my lack of complete enjoyment was partially my fault for altering the meal, but I feel some things were unrelated to that request. The sauce would be added after, so it shouldn’t affect the drier nature of the bread, and the seemingly aged peanut butter. I may have to give it one more shot as it’s intended to be served to see if I can appreciate the meal as it’s meant to be.
This visit wasn’t a very positive experience, but it doesn’t tarnish my opinion of this bakery one bit. Most of the time the food here is outstanding. I think I just picked one meal today that I wasn’t too fond of, and the other I had altered to the point where it was too different from the original. I am still very interested in the other Benedict breakfasts, especially the fried chicken that has been very highly recommended to me.
On the way out, I grabbed two items from the bakery case which I ate on the road. One was a s’mores bar, and the other a key lime tart. Both were really good, but I have no photos to show as they were both gone before I got through the next 3 traffic lights. I have yet to make a bad pick from the bakery case, and this was my first meal experience that wasn’t near perfect. I’ll be back, and I haven’t given up on my peanut butter French toast just yet. I know they can do better.