Two attempts, one meal
All photos by Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES
Before our scheduled food review of Cream and Sugar Cafe, which I visited twice and ate at once, I feel compelled to begin with a short tangent or digression, if you will.
There is something to be said for being prepared. Regardless of whether you were ever some form of scout during childhood, this concept should be firmly rooted in every adult’s mind. This concept applies in multiple circumstances, of course. For college students, it can be as simple as reading the syllabus to avoid grade-damaging surprises or ordering all the required books before the semester begins. In the kitchen, the French term “mise en place” sums up the idea of preparedness, translating as “putting in place.”
While chefs commonly use mise en place to refer to preparing all of one’s ingredients before beginning a recipe, it also encompasses the idea that everything should be ready before beginning. Mise en place easily carries over from making a recipe to having the entire menu in stock, to completing a restaurant concept before opening the doors. This brings us to my first visit to the newest, delightful addition to the Stater Bros. shopping center down the street from campus on La Mirada Boulevard.
The day before, I’d checked the hours and found out that Cream and Sugar Cafe opens at 7 a.m. every morning except Sunday, on which it opens at 8 a.m. Excited to check out a new spot and maybe eat a ham and cheese croissant, I arrived slightly after 10 a.m., hungry and ready. Waiting for the photographer to arrive, I looked around the nicely decorated coffee shop, complete with a couch, board games, magazines and a record player, and felt at ease. Sitting down on a stool at the tall tables that line the back wall, I scanned the well-organized menu. I noted its wide selection of tea, coffee, fruit juices, smoothies and sandwiches as a feeling of impending disappointment crept upon me. None of the food options remotely resembled breakfast.
While coffee or juice suffices as breakfast for some, my appetite demanded more. A quick glance at the case marked with the word “dessert” revealed that it was only filled with soda. Confused by the fact that the cafe opened so early but lacked even a crumb of breakfast food and equally unwilling to stomach a turkey and avocado sandwich so early in the day, I called the photographer and said we should reschedule the visit.
Fast forward to the second day of classes and the second chance I am glad that I gave Cream and Sugar Cafe. We were greeted by a woman behind the counter who helped us pick out the perfect iced tea for a scorching day and then told us about their wonderful 10 percent Biola student discount while ringing up our lunch orders. I realize that the discount simply eliminates the oddly high La Mirada sales tax, but every penny helps, making it a pleasant surprise.
My Korean barbeque sandwich made as a salad, instead of on a bun, was perfection. The satiating beef and slaw was balanced by the lightness than came from the omission of bread and addition of chopped lettuce, preventing a mid-afternoon food coma. With just a hint of a spice, it paired well with my French lemon and ginger iced tea. My only complaint is that there was little to no ginger flavor in the tea, which was still light and refreshing. My lunch companion and photographer was equally pleased with her Italian sub made with quality Boar’s Head deli meat in a spinach wrap, and she raved about the earl grey cream iced tea.
From talking with the staff, we discovered that while the shop has been open since the beginning of June, they are still not finished with the menu. In the next week or so, they plan to offer breakfast and dessert pastries, freshly baked in-house. While glad to hear that there will very soon be an end to confounded customers like me, I am surprised that the shop opened with an unfinished concept.
A menu can make or break a restaurant or coffee shop, making it important mise en place. I mean, what is coffee without at least a measly muffin? Sadly, the cafe now has two months’ worth of customers walking around with the same first impression I formed, unless they bothered to ask. I honestly only returned after the initial breakfast disappointment because I planned on reviewing it.
However, despite their lack of preparation, I do plan to go back for at least a third visit and recommend that others give it a try as well — if not for a delicious Korean barbeque sandwich, then to check out their pastry selection when it finally arrives. I am confident that it will be just as delectable as the rest of their menu.
Cream and Sugar Cafe
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Food/drink: Sandwiches, smoothies, coffee, and speciality tea, including milk tea with boba.
Prices: $3 - $9
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sunday: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
12826 La Mirada Blvd.
La Mirada, CA 90638