Markets & Stores

Chicago Area

Specialty's Cafe and Bakery (tm), Loop


Markets & Stores

Specialty's Cafe and Bakery (tm), Loop

Paul Mollica | Jan 8, 2004 04:36 PM

There have recently been a couple of stray posts about this new Loop outpost of a West Coast chain, which stresses as a selling point its on-site baked goods (both sweets and savories). As I was doing jury duty at Daley Center today and was just a few blocks away, I finally checked it out. Verdict: it is still a chain, with the inherent limitations thereof (e.g. lacking in personality, conspicuously portion-controlled), but for the price a much better bargain than its competition (Baci, Corner Bakery, Cosi et al.). Ten dollars got me a sandwich (huge -- I finished just half), a cup of soup, dessert, and a small coffee (Intelligensia).

As to the food itself:

1. Sandwiches are made to order. Even at 1 p.m. it was taking 8-10 minutes. I ordered The Italian (foccacia, cold cuts, cheese, guardinara). I ordered without mayonnaise, and it came as ordered. While the sandwich was no competition for (say) Harlem Ave., for those of us chained to desk downtown it was pretty good. The bread was agreeably crusty, though not seasoned (just a little salt crushed on top, an incongruous touch) and drier than I would like.

2. Soup, Cream of Artichoke. Light hand on the seasoning and salt, very stocky. Good for a cold day. Came with a little wheat bun that came with a dribble of something on the top (raisin syrup?).

3. Dessert, a Chocolate Roll. I think people who hate Starbucks food (that is, most people I know) will be pleased by the greater variety and fresher pastries here. While I found my dessert to be not particularly special (again, a bit dry), I appreciated at least that it was not oversweetened (a la Corner Bakery) and had some flavor other than sugar and shortening.

191 N. Wacker Dr. (at Lake)
6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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