cinderella russian bakery and cafe.....my baked goods glass slipper
In big city terms, San Francisco is more medium to small sized city. It feels like it is big when it is not, and vice versa. Even after nearly 20 years, there are still parts of town I have never been to. And just when I think I have tried most every bakery, I stumble across another one, that has in fact, been around for quite some time. I'm talking about Cinderella Russian Bakery & Cafe. I know, they have been around since like, the 50's, and I feel like I may have seen some of their stuff around in local grocery stores as their packaging looked familiar. Though I probably just thought they were just a production place and not somewhere you could actually go eat.
I'll just chalk it up as my loss for not having been here before as I do have a fondness for these Russian bakeries that dot some neighborhoods. And since I had not been here, it made to perfect sense (to me) to try as many things as I could! Though I did at least make two trips to try them instead of gorging myself in one sitting, which we all know I probably could have done.
I figure I can kick things off with this thing they called a mikado. It was the thing I liked the least. It is a couple of wafers with some chocolate. Now the only mikado I'd ever heard of was the operetta one. As a cookie, not so much, which is kind of what I can say about this one. On the good side, it was crispy and you could taste the chocolate. On the other side, it wasn't sweet, the wafer and chocolate were bland and there really wasn't much going on here besides what you see. I'd rank this right up there with a biscotti as something I don't like and don't need to have again. So let's move on to tastier things.....
Like piroshkis! Those great pillows of dough surrounding various fillings, basically Russian hotpockets. Cinderella had both backed and fried versions so of course I got one of each. One was beef and mushroom, the other was beef and gorgonzola. Both were good. You could definitely taste the gorgonzola, it has such a sharp distinctive flavor, like bleu cheese does. And while it is still white bread, the baked is probably better for you as the fried was on the greasy side. It was like an old school burger from a greasy spoon diner, like one of those mini White Castle burgers. Though the trade off was the fried had more filling than the baked. It was all sort of like a this for that, but at $3.75 each, they were a nice size and I was happy with both.
Here we have a vatrushka, a Russian sweet cream cheese pie. It is basically like a baked cheese cake but instead of graham cracker crust, it is a flaky, phyllo dough like baked crust. Plus, it is just a hint of sweetness, so not overloaded with sugar. And it tastes exactly like you think it does. I liked it. Reminded me of those cheese danish things you see at bakeries, just with more cream cheese filling. You could easily have added cherry topping or something to it, but it was perfectly fine as is.
One of my reason for a return visit to Cinderella was the above, golubsti, or stuffed cabbage. They offer a number of savory dishes here, thus the reason to add cafe to their name. On offer are any number or Russian options such as borsch, stroganoff, boiled dumplings and so on. Add in the fact the entrees come with one side and some house made bread and butter for about $10 and makes it all a worthwhile bargain. The cabbage didn't disappoint either. Two giant rolls packed with ground meat and rice and covered in a slightly sweet tomato sauce. It was like a "Russian mom made this" comfort food plate. The only reason there was broccoli is because I was trying to be healthy and a steamed veggie was a side option. Boiled potatoes or slaw where my other choices. Of course, I'm still a little confused by the pickle, but hey, everybody does their own kind of garnishes these days. Still, the star here was the stuffed cabbage, definitely worth it.
Here we have a cherry cream cheese turnover. It is sort of the inverse of the vatrushka above. A flaky sweet crust wrapped around a filling of cherries and cream cheese. I had them heat it up and for the most part, I will file this one under just okay. Could have definitely used more filling of the cherry variety, or possibly butter, yeah, that's the ticket, butter makes it all better. Or probably could have, had I had any on me.
And what better way to end a bakery experience than with some bread pudding. For only $2 you get this giant slice eggy, bready sweet delight that was so much better when it was heated up. This is a lot like the bread pudding from Bob's Donuts as it was an amalgam of day olds I recognized from their pastry case. There were bits of cherry, blueberry, cream cheese and a few other things swirling on here. The biggest difference is it wasn't quite as moist, or sweet, as the one I had at Bob's. While good, it did veer to the kind of thick and dry side. I kept thinking how it would benefit greatly from some kind of sauce like caramel. Just something to perk it up. But considering what I got for $2, I was willing to look past it, mostly.
All together I'm gonna say Cinderella Russian Bakery & Cafe is a winner. They have a variety of things to choose from both sweet and savory that make it worth one's while to venture to Outer Richmond and check them out. Pastries, piroshkis, bread and yummy stuffed cabbage are just a few of the delights you will come across. I still need to go back and try their huge bowls of borsch and plates of stroganoff. Not to mention another slice of vatrushka. It is all enough to make any Russian grandmother happy.