This is a sad review to write. So far, there have been very few gluten-free products that I've completely panned. Sometimes these things must be said. I want to promote good gluten-free options. Part of my job is to promote the fact that most gluten-free options are good. If I had eaten my first gluten-free pastry at Sweet Pea Baking Company in Portland I might have given up pastries for life.
I've bought three gluten-free baked goods there, and tried a sample of a fourth thing. One of those four items was passable.
Let me start with the good news. I asked the cashier about their methods for preventing cross-contamination. She told me that they make the gluten-free goods at a separate time than the regular products. They also double-sterilize their utensils and thoroughly clean all the counters before doing the GF stuff. However, they do not segregate the gluten-free products in their display case.
The GF coconut cookie I had there was pretty good for being vegan. It was light and a little flaky. I had an americano there that was great, but the server seemed a bit offended when I asked for regular milk - they are all vegan. I personally don't like any of the milk substitues I've ever had for coffee, so I had mine black. Perhaps I should have taken that opportunity to find a really good non-dairy milk, but I at least found out that they can pull a good espresso.
If you want to read more positive things about this bakery, visit my friends at Gluten-free Portland dot Org. They had a better experience. For me, here is where the good news ends.
I tried a sample of the gluten-free chocolate cookie at the counter. It was very crumbly and the flavor was sort of bland.
It gets worse.
I took home a cupcake and a brownie. I'm sad to report that between my boyfriend and me we took about three bites from the two items. After my boyfriend saw the look on my face as I spat out my bite of it, he was unwilling to sample the cupcake with me. This concoction would be more accurately named a savory bean cake with sugar frosting than a cupcake. The brownie wasn't as bad but it tasted a bit like carob (which I'm not a fan of) and was sort of falling apart. It also made my stomach feel funny to eat it - not in a gluteny way, but in a way that suggests I was eating something not meant for human consumption, like grass or bark.
My suggestion to those of you out there who are gluten-free and dairy-free is to go up the street to New Cascadia Traditional. They are a dedicated gluten-free bakery that has pretty good vegan options, including a great chocolate cupcake that comes in vegan and non-vegan form.
Do you have experience with Sweet Pea Baking Co? What did you think?