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Last updated: Tue. Apr. 08, 2014 - 08:03 am EDT

Restaurant review: Zinnia's Bakehouse

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Zinnia's Bakehouse

Where: 1320 East State Boulevard Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday Phone: 483-4765 Menu sampler: * Deli Combo $7.50 * Tortas sandwich $6.50 * Scones $2 * Chocolate Chip Strawberry Coffeecake $2 * Brownies $2 * Cupcakes $2.75

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Normally I don't mention my mystery dining companion, but on this trip I brought one of the most honest food critics I know, my 13-year-old daughter. She has visited numerous restaurants and has watched a lot of Food Network; she collects recipes of her own, just like her mom. She accompanied me on a recent visit to Zinnia's Bakehouse.

The interior of Zinnia's is sleek and elegant. Shiny black tables and jeweled mirrors are set against a backdrop of pumpkin-colored walls. And for a special touch, each table has its own vase with a zinnia that matches the wall color.

There's also a matching table with stools for children. (That area got quite a workout after a group of mothers and kids came over after story hour at the Tecumseh branch library.)

You can dine at a counter that runs along the windows, facing East State Boulevard.

Lunch options vary daily. The day we visited, Tortas - a Mexican sandwich with meat, veggies, refried beans and cheese - was on the menu. My daughter chose that and picked hot pork as her meat.

I chose the Deli Combo - half a sandwich with soup of the day, which was Cream of Zucchini.

Each of our lunches came with a cookie.

The cream of zucchini soup was excellent. It was so hot that I could see the steam rising from it as it was set in front of me. Topped with a slice of crusty bread, this delicious pureed, creamy mixture was buttery and had a slight kick of spicy heat. It wasn't drowned in lots of heavy cream, and I could still see a few flecks of zucchini.

I let my daughter try the soup and she said, “I'm getting this next time!” She liked it so much that she mooched about half of it.

Her Tortas sandwich was huge. She said the bread was the best part. It was delicate, light, crispy and easy to bite into. She said the meat had lots of flavor but was a little chewy. After eating the sandwich, she said it was “fresh, healthy food and it all mixes well together.”

Before I sampled her sandwich, I had a few misgivings about the refried beans. They are not my favorite food. To my relief, the beans were more of a condiment than a main ingredient and added a unique layer of flavor.

My ham sandwich was equally good. The bread was lightly grilled; cheese was both the top and bottom layer.

As a nice twist, both sandwiches had a combination of leaf and Romaine lettuces instead of the predictable Iceberg. I also appreciated that the tomato was ripe, but not too ripe.

The cookies that accompanied our lunches came on little plates. My daughter's chocolate cookie was intensely rich, and my oatmeal butterscotch cookie was loaded with toffee chunks.

Since we were in a bakery, we also felt it was our duty to try a few of the other baked goods offered at Zinnia's.

Turtle Brownie: If you're looking for a decadent and gooey treat, try this. This brownie has a lot of heft. The portion is large and is very dense.The crispy outside - drizzled with caramel - gives way to a very moist, luscious inside. This dessert is very sweet. I suggest if you try this, make it your only dessert option.

For the Love of Chocolate Cupcake: In contrast to the turtle brownie, this wasn't very sweet. It was topped with ganache and the cake had a coffee taste. This was my favorite treat from the Bakehouse.

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Coffeecake: The flavor was good, but this dessert was a bit dry. I also wanted more strawberry.

Salted Caramel Cupcake: This super-moist cupcake was another winner. All the flavors balanced nicely. The salt offsets the sweetness, and the caramel flavor was subtle.

When we left, we were told that on Saturdays different items are available, such as cinnamon rolls and freshly baked breads, including monkey bread.

I didn't notice it until we were leaving, but I saw containers of “zinnia sugar” on the table that held sugar for tea and coffee. I found out that it is cinnamon sugar and it's very popular. It was one final sweet treat from a place that's full of them.

lweston@news-sentinel.com


This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Laura Weston-Elchert at lweston@news-sentinel.com, or call her at 461-8468.


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