Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quickie Review #4: Paradise Bakery & Cafe

Paradise Bakery & Cafe first opened in 1976, selling freshly baked cookies and muffins in Long Beach, California. Today, they sport 40 different locations in ten states in airports, mall food courts, and freestanding stores. My wife the Rock Star & I were on our way to a movie, and stopping at the food court sounded like a better possibility for a quick lunch rather than just munching on movie popcorn. Mall food courts can sometimes be quite an adventure, but luckily Stonebriar Mall is upscale and the choices were quite interesting. Since my wife is still in her its-summer-so-I'm-eating-lite-cool-food phase, and I like salads and sandwiches, we decided to try Paradise Bakery and Cafe (plus, the line was short!)

The Stonebriar location menu, like most mall menus, is shorter than a regular location, nevertheless sandwiches, pastas, soups, salads and tempting baked goods are offered. Since we had just over half an hour to showtime, we needed somthing quick, cheap, and easy to eat. Suddenly, we spotted a sign for a menu combo that we just love: the Salad Trio. Three salads for one low price. How could we go wrong? We made our choices, ordered at the counter, and were quickly dining in the expansive court. My wife chose the Caesar, a typical mix of Romaine, Parmesan, one large, very tasty garlic crouton shaped like garlic toast and Caesar dressing. Well done, but nothing special. I selected the Exotic Field Greens: a delightful mix of greens, tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles and vinagrette with the same colossal crouton. Again, very nice but the crouton was once again the best part. Then, we turned to our other two choices, which were the same for both of us, and it was here that we indeed achieved Paradise. The Albacore Caesar was plenty of fresh, delicious tuna molded with just the right amount of mayo, and since we are tuna fanatics we were quite happy. But the true standout was the Chicken Walnut: Luscious, finely chopped, top quality chicken salad molded with walnuts, mayo (I think), and just the right amount of seasoning which gave our mouths the kiss of sheer pleasure. Bravo! Portions were generous and the final tab was well under $20, a bargain for such a quality lunch. We happily finished what we could, trashed the rest (be sure to keep the food court clean), and made the movie with ten minutes to spare. It will definitely be our pick when lunch and a flick are in the offing, and remember:


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