31 March, 2015
Sweet Bar BakeryPosted in : Coffee in Oakland, CA, Coffee Shops, Dining in Oakland, CA, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
There’s a lot that I love about Sweet Bar Bakery: their commitment to locally sourced, fair trade, and cage-free ingredients; that they know the difference between a latte and a cortado; that you can usually get a seat without too much of a hassle on a weekday. But I’m befuddled by how their baked goods, with bakery as part of their name, have continually been dry.
Case in point, the “whoop-ass” mocha pie.
Obviously meant as a play on a whoopie pie, I was so disappointed to bite into dry, dry chocolate cake rather than the moist sponge cake I’ve come to expect from that particular sweet sandwich. Perhaps the bitterness of the coffee flavor affected my perception? The middle frosting layer was rich, but more like a dense, hardened frosting than the fluffy ones I associate with whoopie pies. It was also a skimpy helping of frosting.
Luckily, the day I had the “whoop-ass” pie, I also had an amazing cortado, thus sparing the café from my sour impression.
That cortado is on the top. The one on the bottom is from my second trip to Sweet Bar Bakery. Slightly less impressive than the first, it still did the job of giving me the milk to espresso ratio I most prefer. The first was a touch sweeter and more beautifully layered. I will continue to order cortados with confidence at Sweet Bar Bakery.
The employees have also demonstrated their ability to make an acceptable macchiato.
Even when cafes know a macchiato is simply espresso with a dollop of foam, they often steep the milk too long, resulting in large, unappealing bubbles and ruining the texture. Not here, thankfully! Those barista skills are why I recommend you get some form of coffee if you’re planning to try a baked good—you’ll need it to wash down the dryness!
Friend #2 had that ginger cookie on our most recent trip, and it was yes, edible, but almost too hard to break into sharing pieces. Dunking in coffee is my recommended method of enjoyment.
The sandwiches at Sweet Bar are a pretty good bet, though Friend #2 thought her avocado chicken melt was…wait for it…too dry.
I’ve had better success with the tuna salad sandwich (not pictured) and the BLAT, made with Niman ranch bacon, avocado, basil aioli, shredded romaine, and ciabatta bread.
The bread is a good thickness, giving me just enough chew to work my jaw without hurting it—I have TMJ, so hard bread can be painful sometimes. I’d have liked the bacon cooked crisper and better drained of grease, but its flavor was nice and robust. The aioli didn’t have much presence; rather, it drowned in the avocado spread so I ended up adding that ramekin of fresh-pickled red onion and cucumbers to the sandwich to kick up the overall effect. The red onion’s bite was especially helpful in that regard. The BLAT is a good sandwich, but for $8.75 I’d expect a better one.
Sweet Bar Bakery has a lot of the core components of an amazing café, but I think I’ll stick to the coffee and the occasional lunch. The salads do look tasty as they pass by…and you can always ask for more dressing if a salad’s dry, right? Friend #1 confirms that they are good. She’s a regular, and as she also confirms that every baked good she’s ordered has been on the dry side, I think we can trust her opinion.
Sweet Bar Bakery
Reviewed 15 January & 4 March 2015.