Food for Thought
12640 Fort St., Draper ; 801-576-9161
Draper's historic district is home to a bakery/cafe where the coffee and cocoa are equally good and homemade candies abound.
Cuisine: Bakery, Cafe
Hours: M-S, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Reservations: Not accepted/necessary
Recommended Dishes: Cocoa with housemade marshmallows, malt balls, chocolate "mice," salt caramels.
November 27, 2008
Cozy cafes offer a holiday respite: Four bakeries that will raise your spirits
By Vanessa Chang
First will come the recovery from today's food-induced coma, then the holiday season will be in full swing, complete with the frenetic anxiety of holiday shopping, merry-making and eating. What should I have on the table for my guests? What can I eat to keep myself sane?
Should we forget the fundamental virtues of the holiday season -- appreciating loved ones, spending meaningful time together, etc. -- I offer the following cozy cafes to revive your spirits and, if you need it, save you from having to make dessert.
Diva's Cupcakes & Coffee » The coffee at this Millcreek café is fierce. Black and strongly brewed, it infuses me with more than the right amount of caffeine to start or survive the day. The space itself -- a dining area, a library sitting room and a summer patio -- is a lovely transformation of a building that's gone through many incarnations. Now, as a neighborhood café, it's become quite popular. Sandwiches aren't its forte. Instead I opt for the not-so-nutritious, but oh-so-good sticky bun ($2.50). Pastry chef Disa Cuellar's pastries make a good light breakfast or midday treat, like the eponymous cupcake ($1.25; $2.50) with flavors such as red velvet or ginger, topped with buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Holiday specials include cranberry upside-down cake ($2.50 individual tartlets) and pomegranate chocolate torte ($2.50; $30), which should be ordered up to 48 hours in advance. For on-the-spot shopping, keep an eye out for gift baskets ($15 to $45), fashioned with everything for that tea, coffee or cupcake aficionado.
Tulie Bakery & Cafe » This stylish new bakery makes croissants ($3.25) that are burnished to a deep golden tone and are massive in size. Though lovely in appearance and enticing in their heft, I can't say they're the best offering when measured against their filled cousins (frangipane or ham and cheese) or the case that's lush with savory square pucks of quiche with crumbly crusts, sultry Scharffen Berger brownies ($3; $3.25 with walnuts) or "morning buns" ($3.25).
The latter -- popularized by San Francisco's Tartine Bakery -- looks like a cross between a muffin and a sticky bun. But within the swirled layers of buttery dough, there's a healthy dose of aromatic cinnamon and wintry citrus. Try one, along with a fine cappuccino ($2.50, 8-ounce; $3, 12-ounce; $3.50, 16-ounce).
Seasonal specialties such as gingerbread cake ($26 for 9-inch), pumpkin cheesecake ($28 for 6-inch; $52 for 9-inch), cranberry-almond and maple-pecan tarts ($36 for 6-inch) and gingerbread tiles ($2), prepared by pastry chef-owner Leslie Seggar, make lovely to-go offerings for the holiday table.
Les Madeleines Patisserie and Café » The place is known as the home of "kouing aman." Fans of this pastry, originally from Bretagne, France, refer to it endearingly as "crack" for its addictive contrasting textures of the caramelized fleur de sel dough. The Food Network even recently featured it on "Road Tasted with the Neelys."Holiday 4-packs cost $24 -- whether or not you share it is up to you. Those more generous, can rely on pastry chef-owner Romina Rasmussen's elegant line of cookies and shortbreads (butter toffee, pistachio, vanilla, Valrhona chocolate; 3 dozen for $29), traditional buche de Noel ($20; $42) and s'mores kits ($28) complete with homemade marshmallows, graham crackers from scratch and three Guittard chocolate bars. All that ordering is bound to make you hungry; it would be a good time to have lunch. Try the sesame chicken salad wrap ($8.95), wild boar BLT ($8.95) or open-faced Madrid sandwich with Serrano ham, a poached egg, Manchego cheese and roasted asparagus ($8.95). Each comes with a salad or pommes frites; I recommend the latter.
Food for Thought » Good hot cocoa is more a salve than a beverage. At Food for Thought, a small bakery/café tucked in the heart of historic Draper (yes, there is one), the house cocoa is topped with a block of homemade marshmallow that slowly erodes, like a melting iceberg, as you sip the hot substance.
The café is a popular spot for a quick lunch -- sandwiches, soups, quiche and salads -- but I prefer the astonishing range of handmade candies, cookies and gifts. One huge wall is dedicated to Erin Sugiyani's homemade marshmallows (toasted coconut, vanilla bean, etc.; bag of 6 for $6.50), chocolate-coated malt balls ($3.50), extravagantly dipped Honeycrisp apples ($10), fleur de sel or Hawaiian sea salt caramels (65 cents; $1) and their signature chocolate "mice" (a maraschino cherry coated in ganache with toasted almond ears; $2.75). It's a veritable Candyland for grown-ups. I've got my eye on their hot cocoa gift pack ($10) that includes cocoa for one serving, a marshmallow and a deep, colorful café-au-lait bowl.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
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