California Bakery in Milan: straight from the horse’s mouth

California Bakery
You wanna be americano? Peanut butter/chocolate chip cookie (4€), New York-style salmon and cream cheese bagel (7€), Egg-Avocado bagel (6.50€, I loved this!), banana-chocolate and apple cinnamon walnut muffins (2.50€ each).


They’ve been established for well over a decade, offering up the sort of fresh-from-the-oven temptations that would grace any display case of Bakery USA, so why did I not run there as soon as I got word of this small chain of american-style goodies in fashionable Milan?

Because the name didn’t inspire me enough.

I have nothing against american or american-themed eateries in Italy (McD’s doesn’t count, and remember American Donuts?), but as a person who has worked early morning hours in her fair share of bakeries, it’s impossible for me to walk into a mega marketing machine the likes of CB and not come out thinking “been there, done that.” Their formula of american breakfast items/brunch/desserts and trendy-cool decor can only be a win-win situation for a city so amusingly “alla moda”, but despite the wildly disparate reviews to be found online, I knew that if I were to make any kind of assessment, there would have to be input from an unbiased point of view. I needed a neutral opinion from a true blue italian who appreciates baked goods but has never been in the business of actually making or selling them. I sent MotH.

[Disclosure: I don’t normally send MotH, aka Man of the House, to do my food-foraging work. He was scheduled to be in Milan at the right place at the right time and that was that.]

Just get whatever YOU like and get me anything that looks good is what I told him. Well he ate 8€ worth of a large smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and american coffee and brought home that stash above. My husband should be made a freaking saint. He chose things that would be perfect for evaluating. Not surprisingly, the bagels certainly weren’t like how I know them to be – the bread texture and exterior was soft, not firm and chewy. The cookie reminded me very much of Mrs. Fields’ stuff, only bigger (about 4½ inches) and the muffins sang out Starbucks. Bottom line? The food was decent enough. They must be doing something right to expand the company up to 4 stores. If anything at all, one visit won’t hurt unless you’re desperately counting change or expecting royal treatment (weekend brunch requires reservations, period!). I still prefer American Donuts because I don’t need hip, cool design to make me feel like I’m having a slice of America. Just give me a killer cinnamon roll and keep the coffee coming. But if I really REALLY want cheesecake or brownies or hot apple pie, well, all I gotta do is make it for myself!

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