A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges

As you’ve been reading of late, Darlene and I have been spending our weekends eating cake. And while most of the samplings have been fun and flavorful, we had two experiences that were the exact other end of the spectrum.

First, Mille Feuille.

This trendy Hillcrest chocolatier has been in business for a little over half-a-year, and it looks it. Their exterior is shiny and new, and the inside is just as pristine. Unfortunately, the place seems to be run by newbies as well.

Mille Feuille Chocolate

One Saturday Darlene and I were walking through the neighborhood and we happened into Mille Feuille to try a macaron and meet with Matthew, with whom Darlene had scheduled a cake-tasting the Saturday following. After botching our “for here” macaron order (and serving us the only macaroon of 20 that was visibly damaged), Matthew sat down with us and showed us his cake photo album. He talked about deadlines, delivery and three flavors of cake we’d be trying next weekend.

While he was talking to Darlene, I spotted a rate sheet in the album that showed cake-tastings cost $75. You read that right. $75. Figure $15 per cake sample. And not once during our preliminary consultation was that price mentioned, nor was it mentioned when Darlene set up the appointment for next week, nor was it on their Web site (which has no information whatsoever). We also found out that Mille Feuille had made three wedding cakes in the past 5 months. That’s not exactly the track record that inspires confidence. We left, chuckling in disbelief at how many rookie mistakes Mille Feuille had commited.

As you would expect, neither of us would pay $75 for three mouthfuls of cake, I don’t care WHO baked it. She called on Tuesday to cancel Saturday’s appointment. Whoever answered the phone just said, “OK.” Darlene then had to say, “Don’t you want to know my name…? So you know whose appointment you’ll be cancelling…?” And just to make sure, Darlene called back the next day, to DOUBLY make sure the appointment was cancelled.

Again, the person at Mille Feuille didn’t ask for her name or number. The appointment was for Saturday at 1pm, and after TWO calls you’d think they would’ve had it handled. Well, Saturday rolled around and at 12:59pm I bet Darlene that her phone would ring and it would be Mille Feuille, wondering where she was. God as my witness, not a minute later, her phone rang. It was Mille Feuille, wondering if Darlene was going to come in for the 2pm cake tasting. HA! Not only did the jackballs at Mille Feuille NOT get the two messages to Matthew, but Matthew had Darlene down at the wrong time. So Darlene cancelled a THIRD time and was just this side of reading him the riot act, but instead simply ended the protracted relationship.

Other cake taste testers

And lastly (in every sense of the word), Flour Power.

Located in what appears to be a converted dive motel, Flour Power in La Jolla (yes, La Jolla) had us scrunching up our brows with bewilderment from the moment we arrived. Halfway down a hallway of non-descript doors was Flour Power, the only room with voices coming from within. Once inside, a somewhat harried older fellow steered us to a cramped little table where we were instructed to pore over some of their photo albums while he dealt with another couple at the larger table.

We sat and thumbed through page after page of boring cake decorations while listening to the gruff old dude attempt to make a sale with the young couple at the larger table. A few minutes later we were served two Dixie cups of water and a paper plate of cake samples. “We have 24 varieties but you’re only gonna try 12,” gruff man told us. We weren’t sure if that was his way of being light and fun, but we both thought, “whatta jerk.”

Flour Power selection

We started trying the cakes. I won’t bore you with flavors and frostings, but suffice it to say that they tasted no better than Vons sheet cakes or store-brand box mixes. In a word, pathetic. This, plus listening to old gruff guy eminate feelings of casual disdain, we decided the day was done. I had no intention of sitting with this dude and — with a straight face — listen to him tell us about his cake business, and certainly I didn’t feel like telling him that his cakes tasted like ass. So we ditched. No “goodbye,” no “something came up, we have to run.” We simply got up from the table and got the hell out of there while his back was turned. (don’t worry — this wasn’t a “Dine and Dash” as it was a free tasting.)

On the way to the stairwell, we caught up with the other couple who was getting counseled at the larger table. We asked what they thought and they came to the same conclusion: the old guy was rude and, despite recommendations, would not be giving them their business. Come to find out, our opinions of Flour Power are nowhere near unique.

P.Ho

5 thoughts on “A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges

Add yours

  1. AHEM. Still flustered thinking about Mille Feuille and that each serving of cake was going to be $12. No wonder they've had so few wedding cake orders since they've opened.

  2. Either offer me some cake or I won't be able to read anymore until the cake hunt is over.This is painful. I don't have access to cake like you do…

  3. Wow! That cake had better be made of gold! I also remember now that I tasted flour power for my wedding and it was totally disgusting. Hope you find something soon. I cant remember if I mentioned sweet cheeks bakery in previous comments, but I've heard they are good.Or are you just tantalizing us and you've got it all sorted already ?!!!

  4. So been there! Have you decided on a cake yet? Can't wait to see the final product. Congrats…I will be following.Great blog (and photos), by the way.

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