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Restaurants & Bars 5

Durham: Gugelhopf Reconsidered

David A. | Oct 12, 200509:49 AM

I've been a big supported of Guglehopf ever since it opened, but lately I've begun to loose patience.

1) The service -- part cafeteria, part self-service, part wait-service -- remains utterly chaotic. The wife and I grab a seat. Then I must stand in line to place an order. Entrees are brought to the table, but I must grab drinks and forks and knives. The coffee bar affords no place to put down the tray laden with cups and saucers. So I must bring the tray to the table and then go back for the drinks, squeezing in among people standing in line. Then I must go back for silverware. By then my wife's ready for another drink...You get the idea.

2) The menu has not expanded as promised. It's fine as far as it goes, but the relatively small selection of salads, sandwiches, and omelettes begins to pall after two or three years. And the cafe is still serving the same three or four pastry options. The sacher torte and cherry marzipan tart are truly excellent, but year after year? The entire fun of a bakery is the variety, the array of colors and textures and flavors and ingredients, and the painful delight of having to choose. I'm particularly frustrated that Gugelhopf has stopped serving its strudel, which is superb.

3) I'm starting to notice a diminishment in quality. We stopped in for breakfast a week or two ago. We had the apple tart and the lemon bar. Both were distinctly mediocre. The apple tart had no real flavor, and the apples, in my opinion, were seriously undercooked; the lemon bar was simply wretched. The crust was so thick and dense and butter-congealed that it could not be cut with the side of a fork. This was the worst lemon bar I've ever had. I never thought I would experience an all-time-worst baked good at Gugelhopf, but there you are.

Gugelopf is clearly making money hand over fist, which pleases me, but I'm afraid the management is becoming slightly complacent. Though it's still a local treasure, it's not what it should be.

David A.

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