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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Denica's Pastry Café: A great place to start the day!

Lunch date #19, Wednesday June 13, 2012
I am so lucky to have dear friends that wanted to celebrate a little birthday cheer with me, so we worked out a date and time that would work for all of us. We elected to meet for brunch on Wednesday-one day before my birthday-to get the celebration started. I had never been to Denica's Pastry Café (6058 Dougherty Road, Dublin; www.denicascafe.com), but Sandi raved about it—so we simply had to go. It is an out-of-Pleasanton dining experience for us, but well worth the journey to our neighboring town.  Denica's is an interesting fusion of a bakery with amazing treats and breakfast items, and taco bar for later in the day.
Location 3 points: Since we had strayed from the downtown Pleasanton location, we had to evaluate the location. Easy to find, right on Dougherty Road, but in an industrial area—not a lot of curb side appeal. Parking lot is shared with an automotive business.
Ambiance 3 points: OK cute for a bakery/café. A lot of people line up at the counter and order to go, as there aren't that many tables. It is interesting that they expanded and annexed the adjacent business site which has been set up with more of a taco bar-type seating. We all agreed that it was pretty noisy in there, as the sound of dishes being cleared and banging make it hard to have a conversation—but Sandi pointed out that Denica has actually done a lot of improvements. We enjoyed the family photos on the wall.

Menu Selection 5 points: Excellent selection of all sorts of interesting breakfast dishes and baked goods. I went with the Roma Scramble-a special for that day….. We really enjoyed sampling the baked goods—a tradition at Denica's to have samples on the counter to give customers an idea of what cannot be missed. I simply had to order a blueberry muffin to share. Everything is made from scratch and you can easily dash in to grab a goodie and coffee to go. I'm somewhat glad it is not on my path to work, since I would surely get their baked goodies far too often and would have to ride my bike many extra miles to burn off those calories. 

Service 4 points: Well, we weren't going to rate it for service at first…it is an order at the counter and they bring you the food sort of place. It is even self-service for pouring your own coffee and getting your cutlery, etc. When I went back for a refill of water for my tea I just had to say "Hi" to the actual real Denica who was working behind the counter. I told her it was my first time there, and she insisted on giving me a free cookie!  How's that for customer appreciation!!
Food 5 points: Everything was excellent. The baked goods--our muffin and cookie, as well as the pumpkin muffin and brownie we sampled--were amazing. I don't see how you can eat there without consuming 1000 calories. Biggest problem: by 10:00 am, a lot of the baked items were already sold out…have to get there earlier to get the full selection. The scramble I ordered was great: an interesting blend of veggies and eggs all cooked perfectly. Mom had the ham and cheese omelette and said it was very good as were the side potatoes. Tracy and Sandi also enjoyed their selections, and they both bought some baked goodies to take home for the kids.

Value 4 points: Breakfast items in the $10-11 range, salads about $8-9, cookies $2.39 each. Somewhat high-end prices, considering the location and mediocre ambiance, but Denica's is somewhere that you go for the excellent quality of freshly prepared food.  
Overall score for Denica's Pastry Café 4 points. We were so glad to have found this gem, and will definitely go back.  Even though it doesn't technically count for our project, we decided to have an "excursions from Pleasanton" category to include fun places like Denica's…so long as Mom and I discover them together!

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