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Friday, March 15, 2013

Corner Bakery Café: Popular for lunch, I'd say!

Lunch date #32: February 8, 2013

We had heard good things about the Corner Bakery Café (6770 Bernal Ave at the new Safeway Shopping Center; www.cornerbakerycafe.com) and had spied it when at The Habit a few weeks prior. Although a national chain, it is another new-to-us spot and certainly had good curb appeal. Who could pass on a place that includes the word "Bakery" in their name? I was trying to figure out in advance how I would be able to keep this a healthy meal….

Location 3.5 points: Consistent with our scoring for shopping center locations. This one though has more challenge with parking-maybe because between this restaurant and The Habit, there is a lot of interest.

 Ambiance 3.5 points: Perhaps because it is relatively new, the place was hopping! First impression: initial excitement as the place was packed rapidly gave way to concern we wouldn't get a seat. We could barely hear our conversation due to the noise level. The striped awning and blue/brown interior is most likely corporate "branding", but is nice enough and inviting. Entering to an immediate long line was not terribly pleasant, although it moved quickly.

Menu items 4 points: There were many different things to try: salads, soups, chili, sandwiches both cold and grilled (panini). I was trying not to look inside the bakery case. I could easily skip the healthy idea and go for a huge cinnamon roll…but I was unusually disciplined and went for a ½ chicken pesto sandwich and soup combo. It was a bit of a chilly day and the idea of a fresh bowl of tomato soup sounded warming. Mom wasn't too sure what to order, but settled on the chicken pomodori panino. She had originally wanted the club sandwich, but the person taking the order told us no club sandwiches that day—no idea why.

Service 2.5 points: Waited in a long line to place our order than hovered over the tables to pounce on one as soon as vacant. Not an ideal restful lunch date—however, you could argue it is not their fault to be popular and busy. We actually got our items pretty quickly: servers deliver to the table, but that was the full extent of the service. One member of the party sitting next to us never got his salad, and watched his dining companions eat…he ended up leaving and not bothering to complain-said something about grabbing a sandwich somewhere.

Food 3.5 points: Mom liked her panino: good flavor to the bread and the chicken and tomato mixture were tasty and tender. My soup was just fair as was the chicken pesto sandwich. Not something I'd order again. I've heard the salads are pretty good—and their baked goods do look amazing, so it could definitely be a situation of knowing what to order. Perhaps the club sandwich would have been good.

Value 3.5 points: Mom's panino at $8.49 was a fairly standard sandwich price. The coffee at $1.99 was reasonable. My soup/sandwich combo at $7.99 would have been a good deal if I would have liked it better. We did use a coupon and got $6.00 off, so that helped. The overall noise level and waiting for a table while standing there and glaring at diners was not enjoyable.

Overall score for Corner Bakery Café 3.4 points. Exciting to try a new place and have it buzzing with excitement-wonder how long it will stay this busy. Not the best deal in town for a good sandwich, but fairly quick and good overall quality. Will have to try some of the other menu items to see what the rage is all about. Mom was happy to take home half of her sandwich, so she was pleased with the lunch date—after all, that's what it is all about!

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