Thursday, June 23, 2011

RR: The Big Ono Bake Shop

Jonathan and I were watching a "Unique Eats" on Cooking Channel a few nights ago.  I don't remember the exact theme of the show, but it was something like, "sassy sweets" - basically it was places serving only sweet foods (that had something cute & kitchy about them, thus getting on a show about "unique" food to begin with).  While watching the show, I lamented to Jonathan that we don't have a local bakery serving an overabundance of breakfast pastries.  Now don't get me wrong, we have some awesome bakeries in town that are serving incredible cute, kitchy, delicious treats, but none of them (that I know of) are really geared towards breakfast.

But then I put my thinking cap on, and thought of The Big Ono Bake Shop.  In fact, we had seen their booth at the farmer's market the previous weekend and I commented to Jonathan, "I'm surprised that place has stayed in business because they're a bakery that caters to breakfast and they opened during the recession." 

Despite the fact this place is about a 10 minute walk from my office, I've never been.  So, with a desire for a mostly breakfast-y bakery, coupled with a constant desire to try new (to me) restaurants, I set off yesterday to see what it was all about.

I probably went at the wrong time - 11:30 - because when I got there, the cases were looking a little bare.  There were a couple scones left, one "lava roll" (their signature item), and then just plain, non-sweet dinner rolls and loaves of bread.  On the shelves were a bunch of pre-packaged boxes of cookies & biscotti, and in the fridge were "stuffed cupcakes."  Obviously stuffed cupcakes - whatever they may be - sound awesome, but since they were in the fridge, I knew I wouldn't like them as much as something else (since I don't love cakey things that aren't at room temp).

I asked the employee what she thought was better - the lava roll or the scone.  She said she "didn't care for the scones."  Um...ok.  So I went with the lava roll.  As I said, there was only one sitting out (it was the spiced apple flavor), but she said she had cinnamon in the back, which I chose.  She asked if I wanted it plain or iced, and I vehemently asked for extra icing, my fave!
It was still a little warm, which was a nice touch, but my overall verdict?  Just ok.  It was fine - tasty in parts - but also a little burned on the bottom and not nearly as soft as I would've expected a cinnamon roll to be.  The flavor was good, but honestly, my mom makes better homemade cinnamon rolls, in my opinion.  The icing was lovely, though.  It definitely had a tiny bit of citrus thrown in to give the sweetness another dimension of flavor.

I guess I won't 100% say I'll never go back to Big Ono (which, by the way, is a Hawaiian-themed bake shop, hence the aloha-like name), but also, it probably won't be on my go-to list.  I probably wouldn't recommend it to someone unless they were dying for a sweet and didn't want to leave downtown (and didn't want to have any of the fantastic desserts from nice restaurants in the dtown area).  I guess I'd maybe like to try their plain rolls, since Hawaiian bread from the grocery store (the kind in the orange/red package) is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten, but again, I'm not racing out of my office to get back there.

(And the question still sort of looms over me head - how has this business, that opened during the recession, stayed in business??)

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