It doesn’t happen often. But every once in while, someone takes a familiar concept and makes it better.
Such was the case in my latest reconnaissance to Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in Downey, California.
Admittedly, I didn’t know much before my visit. I had chosen the closest of their three locations and the bakery & cafe concept seemed self-explanatory.
As I approached the entrance, the chatter amongst the patrons sitting outside created a nominal buzz in the air.
It was soothing compared to the hustle and bustle that greeted me when I opened the door.
Hesitantly, I stepped inside and took it all in.
The store was large with three distinct sections – bakery, cafe, and whole cakes & pies. Each section had a line with the entrance staffed by personnel wired for communication. Additionally, there was a dining area inside with service.
Once I got my bearings, I entered the lengthy bakery line. There was an immense chalkboard overhead listing the numerous items and their prices.
Honestly, it was too much to absorb. I gave up and decided to look at the display case when I was closer.
Assuming it would be a while, I began keeping busy on my phone.
But I was wrong. The line moved quickly.
There was a system to this madness.
I soon found myself near the front of the line. Not wanting to be the clog in the machine, I began assessing the desserts.
When my turn arrived, I knew exactly what I wanted. I pointed out my selections. The associate boxed them, and then another associate completed my order at the register.
Not only was my wait less than 15 minutes, but it was a great value too. Three baked goods for a little over $7.
I left Porto’s eager to find out if the taste would match the experience.
Now it should come as no surprise that I purchased a cupcake. What makes it unusual is that I opted for one with minimal frosting, the Blueberry Strati Cupcake.
It’s a white yogurt cake, layered with fresh blueberries and blueberry buttercream, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
From the moment I saw those blueberries peeking through the cupcake’s top, I couldn’t resist. The frosting was secondary.
So when I got home, I grabbed a fork and took my first bite.
It revealed…a blueberry muffin.
Hmmm, that’s odd.
I took another taste.
The fresh berries burst in my mouth. The cake was sweet and moist with a muffin-like density. The frosting’s consistency was thinner than I’m accustomed and its flavor wasn’t pronounced.
This was no cupcake, as expected.
Nonetheless as a muffin, I liked it.
Not knowing what to make of my 1st choice, I moved on to their Individual Creme Brulee. It’s a rich custard, topped with caramelized sugar and garnished with fresh berries.
The custard was speckled with vanilla beans throughout. It was velvety, while the topping was crunchy with a hint of caramel. The fresh strawberry slice and blackberry was just enough to offset the caramelized sugar.
For $3.00, I was very pleased.
Alas, after a confusing start and a great finish, I needed a tiebreaker for my Porto’s review. Hence I took a break and then returned for the final item.
The Brownie Slice – a dense chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate ganache.
After assessing the brownie, I decided to heat it a smidgen above room temp, allowing the chocolaty parts to mingle.
Ooh, the result was fabulous!
I discovered melted pockets of chocolate chips throughout the warm brownie. And the thick ganache became a decadent glaze that covered each morsel.
Yes, I’ve had better. However not many, especially for only $1.35.
I give Porto’s Bakery & Cafe 4 out of 5 stars.
Had the cupcake been more in line with expectations, the rating may have been higher.
Still, with efficient service and tasty desserts at a great price, they’ve earned a new customer. I will gladly return for more.