Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sweet Pea Vegan Bakery Review

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?


About Me said...

I really enjoyed the honesty and humor in this review! LOLed even. I will proceed to this bakery with caution the next time I am in Portland (I live in Eugene). I do LOVE New Cascadia Traditional though.

I enjoy reading your blog entries. I find them to be informative about the gluten free things that can be reasonably found and accomplished in the Pacific Northwest region. Thanks!

I have a blog too, really just getting it going:


Lauren Denneson said...

I too wasn't a fan of the GF food I got there, so I didn't write it up. Thanks for taking the courage to do so - it's good to know what is NOT good as much as it is to know what IS good.

Gina said...

Thanks for the props, Amy! I'll check out your blog.

Lauren, I thought about skipping the review but didn't think my coverage of the Portland area would be complete without it. There is always an incentive to support any local company that does things gluten-free, but on the other hand I don't want to say it's good and then have others try it and wonder what I could have been thinking.

For what it's worth, I hear the gluten-free muffins are good at Sweet Pea, and so are their "regular" vegan cakes.

Rebecca said...

This review was hysterical. I am actually curious to try the food there now. Some of the gluten- free "delights" you have given high ratings were, in my opinion, barely edible. Now I just have to know what this Sweet Pea stuff tastes like!

Brian said...

Thanks for the honest review. Not all GF products are a hit. Maybe with some constructive feedback, Sweet Pea can improve upon their gluten free product line.

Cheryl - Somewhat Crunchy said...

Yikes! Sorry you had a less than stellar experience but it's refreshing to read an obviously honest review.

Gina said...

I want to clear up something about Rebecca's comment. The "delights" she thought I'd given a good review of include a soggy piece of pizza and a stale piece of bread. I endorse neither, but I apologize for feeding such things to my only sister. When informed that the stale piece of bread was actually some bread that she had previously tried she said she had liked it (when it was fresh). I'm striving to promote good gluten-free options here on my blog. I don't want non-GF people to think that gluten-free food is inedible for "normal" people!

Rebecca said...

Oh yes, I was not saying that all GF baked goods are unfit for consumption. That soggy piece of pizza and stale bread were not very good, but all the baked goods Gina has made herself have rivaled "regular" baked goods. Check out her scone recipe and waffle recipe--they are delicious and would not taste any better with wheat flour.

Gina said...

Thanks, Rebecca! That's good to hear.

lilly said...

I completely agree with your comment about tasting like a bean cake. I tried a slice of Sweet Pea Baking's lemon cake that I purchased from the bakery counter at New Seasons and my reaction was the same as yours. I immediately spit it out. The cake looked beautiful but tasted like, well....beans. Entirely unexpected and unpleasant.