Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Meatloaf Bakery

Meatloaves served up like cupcakes? Crazy cool concept, The Meatloaf Bakery. I'll bite.

I walked into the shop and was immediately drawn to the aesthetic. A rainbow sherbet color scheme controlled the space and it could not have felt more appropriate, a bright concept paired with a bright palette. The display case worked well too, prominently displaying the variegated meatloaf creations exactly as if they were items in a traditional bakery.

I ordered El Loafo del Fuego, the spicy meatloaf, in "cupcake" size for $8.95. I would've tried various "loafies", the smallest size loaves, to test out the flavor range, but there was only one type in stock and they were expensive @ 2 bucks a pop. Apparently, they had a busy Labor Day weekend. Anywho, the employee behind the counter gave me two options for heating the meatloaf cupcake. I could either have him microwave it or put it in the oven. The oven, he told me, was the recommended option if I had the time to wait. I did.

About twenty minutes or so later, El Loafo del Fuego was placed in front of me with its side of "sherry-mushroom sauce". The jalapeño on top of the garlic-mashed potatoes looked limp and sad, but the presentation was still excellent. Undoubtedly, appearance is The Meatloaf Bakery's strong suit.

Due to my sky-high expectations, thanks to the crazy concept and savory setting, my first bite left me underwhelmed. I expected a dazzling flavor explosion, but what I got instead was something rather bland. The meatloaf was a tad dry and its spiciness killed the other flavors. The potatoes on top weren’t much different from instant potatoes and if it weren’t for the rich (though watery) side of gravy, this meatloaf cupcake would have been even more forgettable.

Without ever having seen meatloaf cupcakes before, I can still say that for ~$9 each, they were too pricey, especially considering their compact size. A single meatloaf cupcake was not filling enough to merit the ~$9 charge. Even one of their big cookies, dubbed "The Best Cookie Ever", was $4! That's crazy talk. Four bucks for a cookie? I don't care how big it was, unless it came with a side of cookie or some gold flakes, it just could not have been worth it.

I will say though, that the two staff members I interacted with were excellent. The gentleman behind the counter was kind and attentive and the owner was very accommodating, approachable, and super passionate about The Meatloaf Bakery in an endearing way. She took the time to explain the concepts and processes and even delivered a Netflix envelope for me! No joke, I had one on top of my table next to my bike helmet and she offered to take it on her way out.

At the end of the day, The Meatloaf Bakery provides original food - albeit a bit gimmicky - and excellent service with prices that are too high for the amount that you get. I am anxious to try the other flavors, but there are too many other things out there that are a better value and better tasting.

Back or Forth? I will be going forth.

The Meatloaf Bakery - Lincoln Park - (773)698-6667 - 2464 N. Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614 - Public transportation: bus 22 or the Fullerton stop on the Brown and Red Lines.

El Loafo del Fuego - $8.95

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