I am always a fan of the boutique small business rather than the big trendy chain and when it comes to sweets it’s no different. A decade ago, I recall all my San Francisco friends freaking out about Just Desserts, a place where you could go and get a convenient slice of cake. But the only time I tried it, the cakes were dry and ordinary and I ended up seeking out my old favorite coffee shop haunt in the Castro where the old woman who owned the place served up her own Midwestern recipe for coffee cake with the Styrofoam cup brew. For free and just because.
Walking into San Diego’s Extraordinary Desserts last weekend fell somewhere between the two sides of this world – a locally-owned business expanding off their success with two vast and cheerful stores in the region yet still small enough to offer display cases full of what looked like tenderly cared for artisan creations. I wouldn’t trust a person, male or female, who doesn’t get excited over gleaming glass boxes full of pretty sweets in every variation from scone to cake to cookie to roll and I definitely did here. Aside from the oversized treats of every kind were the carefully considered touches like rose petals on plates, buds on neatly trimmed florals and fruit slices on frosting leaving me completely and shallowly seduced.
The Cute Gardener was hoping our blueberry coffee cake would live up to the one he had tasted before at their other location which he described as having perfect crumble per inner softness ratio. I was remembering my experience a day before at Michele Coulon Dessertier where I had such a delightful and special carrot cake so my hopes were perhaps high. For whatever reason, nostalgia or expectation-bent, we both thought the pastry was really tasty but not anything worthy of the word “extraordinary” – unless of course you are describing the presentation on the plate.
Although it was an overall enjoyable experience and I would probably go back for their big steaming mug of matcha green tea with the heart in the foam alone, I think my love of sweets will remain satisfied in those little tiny places where you can still see the women and men behind the counter manually whirring the dough.