Saturday, June 11, 2011

Take the Cake More Than Frustrating for First-timers

Paul came over to see me.  He talks about his friend Alex, but I haven't met him yet.  We like the same kind of food, so I'm sure we'd get along fine.

       I read that Take the Cake was now doing Sunday brunch.  We never ordered any baked items from them when they were downtown at Main and Liberty, but we had tasted some of their cakes at various events and the buzz about them was always good.  Our dear friend Paul wanted to join us for brunch and he was up for coming along on our new adventure.

      We drove past where Take the Cake was the last time we were in Northside and it wasn't there.  We parked (why is Northside still charging to park everywhere and at all times when it so desperately wants to be a destination neighborhood?) and wandered up Hamilton Avenue for a block when finally I called them.  The background was noisy and the person had no clue which direction we should go on the street (we were at Shake It Records, which is the prime destination for the neighborhood, and didn't see any street addresses).  A new person came on the phone to give us directions and we were on our way DOWN Hamilton Avenue.  It's basically across the street from Honey.  

      It was crowded and noisy as we entered.  No signs to seat yourself (or not) or to place your order (or not).  Confusing for first-timers.  We looked about for a table for three.  There were a couple of long wooden communal tables (reminiscent of Slims, when it first opened), other tables for two to four, and counter space in the back.  Graciously, a patron got up and gave us
his table close to the magazine selections on the IKEA wall fixture. Actually, most of the industrial space is furnished with IKEA merchandise.  There's a large blackboard listing the day's features.   We read through it and decided that we definitely needed to place our order at the cashier.  Eric and I went up as Paul hovered over our table...we didn't want to lose it.  A server(?) came by to ask if we had been there before.  Uh—no.  Paul and I were appointed to get our self-serve coffee.  Paul proceeded to hit his head on the angled ceiling in the niche for the coffee stand.  Placing the cups on our wobbling table, we created a little mess.  ‘A server(?) with shining flatware’ appeared with additional napkins.  Thank you!  Things were looking up.

      We were then ready to eat.  Paul ordered the Asparagus Basil Biscuit with poached egg, provolone and roasted cherry tomatoes.  Eric had the Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp & Grits with bourbon butter.  I went for the Ham Biscuit with peach chutney, poached egg, and goat cheese.  All sounded creative and were well presented in IKEA bowls.  (I mention that only because I almost had a mishap with dumping my bowl of food.  Not a good design, so I was happy to see that they no longer carry this particular bowl at IKEA.  Also, two out of our three bowls were chipped.)  I really liked my choice, although I felt the chutney was a bit overpowering and the overall dish was very sweet.  Paul also liked his, but the poached egg had a solid center.  Eric's only statement was that the “same dish is better at Tucker's.”  All in all, we had so many things happening I forgot to take pictures of most of the food! 

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp & Grits
Take the Cake Dessert Case
      Should we have taken our chances on dessert? Paul and I approached the pastry case, which was rather small considering this was basically a bakery.  Most of it was filled with various cupcakes, a key lime tart (the other fruit tarts were gone), and a couple of cakes.  Nothing indicated what was what, so I asked one of the staff for descriptions. He said, "Which one?"  I said all of them since I hadn't a clue.  This was obviously a bother for him and I couldn't hear most of his muttering for the noise in the place.  I had made my decision.  Nothing was tempting me enough and my two companions agreed.

      Let me just say that when I heard and read about this brunch, I was excited and really wanted to like this place.  But the unfamiliar surroundings, unorganized staff (for the most part—there were seven staff members that were doing everything from preparing food to bussing, but without any type of organization), and the slightly untidy space left us without enough of a reason to make us want to give it another try.  This is one of those places that feels like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, but the twentysomethings who seem to make up the core clientele will most likely continue to enjoy the view.

Take the Cake on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I'm a Northsider, and a big fan of Take the Cake, and it's hard for me to see how you can blame them for:

A). You not verifying the location of the establishment prior to setting out for it.
B). You not being able to find a street number in an area rife with them.
C). An employee not being able to instantaneously comprehend your request for directions in a noisy environment.
D). You not realizing that no signs to please wait to be seated means seat yourself.
E). Your friend hitting his head on a stationary, non-invisible ceiling.
F). You nearly dumping your food all over yourself (my four and six year-old eat from those bowls regularly without doing this).
G). You asking for a description of EVERY SINGLE ITEM IN THE BAKERY DISPLAY during what was OBVIOUSLY A BUSY TIME. Damn right it was a bother for the employee. Do you know what most (i.e. 99.8%) people do in this common, common situation? They pick out a couple things that look good to them, and just ask about those.

A little self-awareness, please.

Btw, Northside doesn't control its own parking meters -- that'd be the City of Cincinnati.

Who is Dexter? said...

The guys and I feel our blog is meant to describe their entire experience at a restaurant. That way it will help those that are unfamiliar with a given establishment to know what to expect so that hopefully they can have a pleasurable time there.