Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Last Sunday, I got invited for a review of Hogar Dulce Hogar, a Basque Bakery that opened two and a half weeks ago. It is always exciting to go to a place that just opened, although you never know if you will have a good experience, the kitchen or staff needing sometimes some adjustments at the beginning.
Located in Soho, this place is the sister restaurant of Hogar Dulce Hogar in San Sebastian, Spain, an area thriving with fantastic food and a culinary culture that made it the city with the most Michelin stars per square meter in the world!
So, we arrived at the restaurant a little after noon. Of course, we could not miss the sign outside, that did not get fully register to me, probably because I was too busy taking photos. I opened the door and the second thing I saw were...blankets!
And behind them, a little space with a couch that was like a living room, minus the TV.
Looking up was a screen where movies were playing and an incredible suspended garden all along the wall, going to the ceiling. At that point, you wonder in which world you just entered, but know that this is going to be different.
We met with the manager Gonzalo who introduced us to Miguel Blanco, who came with the concept and took care of us, explaining to us not only the food, but also the kind of experience he wanted to give to his customers. So, we were wondering about the couch area? They wanted to make it like an extension of a living room. The blankets? It is just in case you get cold. How thoughtful. The general idea is to make you feel cozy and at home. Normal, considering that Hogar Dulce Hogar means Home Sweet Home in Spanish.
So you can just go there and, besides eating and drinking, read or surf the internet with the iPads they provide (they also have a free wifi). You can also go in the back in a little space covered with a chalk board and draw:
Or use some of the chalk and small chalk board signs located on each tables.
There are plenty of little details all over the restaurant that surely make this place unique, such as the mint plant on the coffee table:
or the plants on each table:
The screen is also interesting: in the morning, they project videos showing what is happening in the kitchen that is located upstairs. Later, the video will change based on various criteria. For instance, in the winter, you may see a video of beaches or dogs with their head outside the window of a car. In the Summer, when it is hot, mountains.
Every detail is there to make you think about happy things, why not vacations when seeing the surf boards hanged against one of the walls or reading some positive saying such as the one at the entrance (today is good day to smile).
Food wise, they make everything on site, but know that it is not a pure bakery: they also serve lunch, brunch or dinner. We got sweets, but definitely, their savory dishes look yummy, like the toast with Iberico ham or one of their best sellers: the apple and bacon burger. They also serve a 50-second fresh squeezed orange juice. The idea behind it is that the vitamins in the juice will start to fade after the first 50 seconds because of the contact with the oxygen, so they commit to bring it to you...in 50 seconds.
So, we started off with beverages. Being a coffee drinker, I was curious about their choices. Miguel explained that their coffee is a blend of 6 different beans from countries like Indonesia or Ethiopia that they roast for 12 minutes, instead of 14 minutes, in order to obtain a sweeter and less bitter taste. They then ship it from San Sebastian, close to 4,000 miles away. You can get an espresso or a latte, but they also propose some interesting creations, such as the bombon that is made with dulce de leche, or the café Magdalena aka Muff’nJoe, made with a muffin!
I decided to try the café donut or DoughJoe, that is coffee and a donut put in a blender. Don't worry: it does not taste like baby food, but like a very creamy coffee, not too sweet and with a slight coffee taste.
Jodi went for the hot chocolate. Ok, this is not your regular hot chocolate. Let's zoom a bit so you can understand:
A little more detail:
As you can see, it is a very thick hot chocolate, closer to a pot de crème rather than a regular hot chocolate. Miguel warned us and said that it was so thick that a spoon would stand on its own. So we did the test...
And it stood on its own, right like Miguel said. It was very chocolate-y and a bit sweet, but still addictive.
Then, the first pastry we tried was torrija, a Spanish specialty close to a French toast (another best seller).
Instead of using some old bread, they use a brioche that they dip in milk and orange, then dip in eggs and fry. It is then put in powdered sugar and cinnamon, the sugar melting as the bread is hot.
It was delicious and definitely reminded me of the pain perdu we use to make at home when I was a kid.
We then tried the amonna cake (grandma's cake):
Think about it as a sweet version of a quiche.
This was sublime and my favorite: I could not stop eating it! The inside, simply made with cream, eggs and sugar, was sweet, but not too much. The crust was crumbly, adding a bit of texture to a pastry that I surely recommend.
We then tried the Santiago Almond Cake:
I thought it was like the almond cakes you find in any other bakeries, but I was mistaken.
There was no crust. It was pure almond, like a concentrated version of marzipan. Not too sweet and definitely a great pastry if you love marzipan.
- Quark (dairy product) with honey and walnuts. It tasted like a frozen yogurt gelato.
- Dark chocolate (definitely for the chocolate lovers).
- Green apple.
- Super lemon.
My favorite was the hazelnut one as this is one of my favorite flavors with praline for ice cream, but I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the green apple and lemon one, fruity flavors being more associated for me to sherbet rather than gelato.
I really liked what we ate at Hogar Dulce Hogar and had a good time talking to Miguel who was definitely passionate about his business, placing quality and hospitality above everything, so people feel like home, in a place that has some character. I cannot wait to go back there to try their savory dishes and get some more pastries.
And do not feel bad leaving your dog outside while you enjoy your meal or treat inside: they have a spot created specifically for them, where they can enjoy some fresh water and dog treats. If these are as good as what we got, maybe I should bring some home for a snack!
Enjoy (I did)!
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!