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The Lamentable State of Downtown Baked Goods


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The Lamentable State of Downtown Baked Goods

Paul Mollica | Dec 13, 2003 02:54 PM

After a karate match on Saturday, I went by Barbara Ann's on Cottage Grove for hot links (served cheerfully in a pool of hot sauce), and noticed stacks of pre-sliced sheet cakes (sour cream, chocolate and lemon) from a Dolton bakery, Mrs. Winters Cakes. The modest labels on the packages advertise these as having no preservatives or corn syrup, just flour, butter, eggs, cream, baking powder and spices. I talked my son into trying one and helped myself to a taste. It was a satisfying complement to the firey sauce coating the hot links.

I see similar products all over the South Side, not just in restaurants, but convenience stores, gas stations, etc. This leads me to wonder why such fine, local goods seem to be unavailable downtown.

After 17 years of working downtown, I have long since given up on finding a decent place to pick up a muffin or brownie with a cup of coffee. Intelligensia Coffee, with its outpost in the Monadnock Building, features Alliance Bakery products, alternately undercooked, overcooked and flavorless (unless baking powder counts as a "flavor"). Starbucks is, was and always will be awful in the food department. Corner Bakery oversweetens everything, and its goods get stale and crusty just standing there. Etc., etc.

Maybe in some lobby or basement outpost in the Loop there resides a great, overlooked spot, but I pledge upon the remains of my Mrs. Winters Cake that I'm wasting no more calories on the mediocre lumps of pastry served up in the Loop.

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