Thursday, December 10, 2009

Extra Helpings: A Confused Croissant At The Golden Goose

In an interesting double-whammy twist of having driven by the Golden Goose Restaurant and then not-so-soon after reading about them on my friend Kathy's blog, I decided to check out their website in order to gather more information. While their site is still under construction, there was enough information to pique my curiosity and prompt me to give them a try. It seems that the new establishment (in the same location as the Chuck and Diane's that had been there for many years before that) was trying to portray itself as much as a bakery as a restaurant.

Located at the southwest corner of Broad Boulevard and State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, they can be reached at 330-926-9774. Parking was available on the same lot as the restaurant. Here was a shot of the sign and exterior of the restaurant:

It should be noted that the Golden Goose is a breakfast and lunch kind of joint, kind of like Wally Waffle and Molly Brown's Country Kitchen. Once I was inside the front door, I noticed a very small pastry display case off to the left side of the room next to the lunch counter. However, before I had a chance to check it out, one of the servers noticed me and directed me to a table near one of the windows. She left me with a menu to peruse:

The last page was actually a free-form insert. It alone mentioned using some of the pastries (notably the croissant) that were made in the kitchen. And even though it was close to noon when I went, I wasn't really in the mood for a sandwich; however, I was determined to try something from the pastry selection.

My preference was more for a late breakfast, so my server brought me a decaf and water after I requested it:

When I inquired about the croissant, my server sadly answered that they had sold out of the plain croissant well before I had arrived today. She wasn't sure what was left, but suggested I walk up to the pastry case and make a selection from whatever remained and she would be happy to bring it to my table. I walked up to the pastry case and noticed that they actually had three different kinds of filled croissant left, almond, chocolate, and ham and cheese. Thinking a sweet croissant might go better with my late breakfast, I decided on getting the almond filled one.

After only a minute, this arrived at my table:

With just a minimal sugar glaze on the outside, this looked absolutely delicious. When I cut my first bite, I was rewarded with the many flaky layers that making this pastry by hand gives you:

While the first bite didn't have any filling, the butteriness from the dough and the sweet glaze on top made for a delicious mouthful. Unfortunately, upon my second bite, I noticed signs of trouble:

Clearly this was not the almond filling I had asked for. In fact, it looked (and more importantly tasted) of ham and cheese. Something was amiss here. If the croissant had been missing the sweet glaze on top and I had gotten a ham and cheese, then I could've gladly accepted that it was my server's error. However, given the glaze and the filling probably weren't supposed to be co-habitating in the same pastry, I figured the mix-up had happened in the kitchen. I called my server over and explained my discovery. Of course, she offered to bring me a replacement. At that point, with my breakfast still coming, I decided to tell her that I'd be happy to take the replacement, but instead of bringing it for immediate consumption that I'd like her to box it up so I could eat it later.

Within less than a minute, a trim gentleman came out of the kitchen and approached the gentleman sitting alone in the booth at the opposite end of the room. Clearly my server had told someone about the problem. Not surprisingly, the other guest looked a little puzzled with all the talk about mistaken croissant fillings. That was when the man recognized he was talking to the wrong person and looked over in my direction. He came over and introduced himself as the head baker, Michael Bruno. Michael also happens to be the son-in-law of the owner. He apologized profusely and tried to explain how something like this could've happened. Knowing that my server had already taken care of the issue by wrapping up a replacement croissant to go, I assured him that mistakes happen and in my mind the issue had been rectified. Which, as far as I am concerned, it was.

Soon my server returned with my croissant-to-go and the rest of my breakfast:

This was the two pancakes, two pieces of bacon, and two eggs for $5.75. Unless you are a pancake eater, I'd suggest sticking with a short stack (just two instead of three) as the pancakes were HUGE. With the addition of some syrup,

I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast. Everything was cooked properly and while nothing blew me away as being original, it was hot and fresh and a good deal. I gathered myself up and walked toward the front of the restaurant to pay the check. Michael was up at the pastry case rearranging some of the items inside. He again apologized and insisted that if I wasn't happy with the pastry to come back and he would make things right. I thanked him and walked out of the restaurant, prepared to pursue my agenda for the rest of the day.

I finally returned home around 5 PM, slightly hungry but not famished. The notion of having my replacement croissant crossed my mind and I decided to give in to my impulse. Like before, sweet glaze on top, first bite all flaky and buttery. Second bite ... ? You guessed it. Ham and cheese. Deciding that I wasn't going to throw it away, I pulled all the ham and cheese out first and ate it as my "savory" course. I then finished eating the rest of the croissant as my "sweet" one.

I did contact Michael to let him know about the problematic croissant issue and he wrote back and informed me that because his normal baking schedule doesn't have that many filled croissant on the dossier, he normally just puts them all on a single tray and keeps mental note of what is what. However, after what happened to me both at the restaurant and later at home, he is now going to separate them, regardless of how small the batches are, just to avoid this problem in the future. He also let me know that the next time I was at the restaurant he would personally see to it that I got the correct croissant of my choice.

When I first had the croissant mix-up, I kind of chuckled and thought to myself that I was probably the best and the worst person to which this could have happened. Obviously restaurants don't like their mistakes to be made public. At the same time, without knowing who I was or what I do, Michael went out of his way to talk to me and more than make up for the kitchen's accident. Every restaurant and bakery screws up, it's human nature. It's how we handle those mix-ups that build or destroy your customer base.

I will definitely be returning for another meal and another pastry at the Golden Goose soon. If you are in the mood for quality food at very reasonable prices or are just looking for some freshly baked croissant (filled or otherwise), I would heartily suggest that you do the same. Hopefully with the procedural adjustments in the kitchen, you won't have to experience the strangeness of having a savory ham and cheese croissant with a sweet glaze on top.

[Update: I returned two weekends later for a follow-up meal and that proper croissant. Michael was standing by the lunch counter when I walked in and I got that look, like he knew I was someone he should know, but didn't immediately acknowledge me. It wasn't until after I placed my order that he walked up to my booth with a almond filled croissant on a plate. "You're Thomas, right?" After I confirmed who I was, we chatted for a minute before he left me to try out the croissant for the third time. This time? Yes, it was definitely almond. In the form of a 50/50 blend of French almond paste and homemade frangipane, actually. It was also quite delicious and would've gone exceptionally well with a nice cup of hot black coffee.

P.S. To the woman sitting in the booth directly across from me who was consumed with outrage and nearly ready to walk out of the Golden Goose after having placed your order simply because they didn't have honey available for your hot tea: GET OVER IT! I would have rather been surrounded by screaming babies than to have to listen to your incessant whining and moaning the entire time I was trying to enjoy my lunch.]


BONNIE K said...

This was very amusing to me.

Tino said...

@Bonnie K: I wish I was even remotely clever enough that I could make this stuff up. I'm glad you got a kick out of it.

DianeS said...

Those croissants look wonderful. Are they made with all butter?

Tino said...

@DianeS: I checked their website and it didn't say specifically that they use only butter in the croissant. However, I can make an educated guess and say that based on the flakiness and the taste, yes. Next time I stop in, I'll ask.

Anonymous said...

Greeting Thomas and all, this is Michael - and I do the pastry that Thomas tried. A couple of comments. First - the croissant mix-up has actually happened again - after Thomas's incident! It drives me crazy, but I will get the bugs out, I promise. Since opening the bakery, I keep hearing Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry" hiss - "a Man's gotta know his limitations!"

Anyway, thanks Thomas - for not raking me over the coals too much! It was an honest mistake. Now, yes, the croissant and danish and sticky buns are made with all butter. It is actually a Wutherich, European style butter. The only things I make with oil right now are bakery items such as the Morning Glory muffin and the Challah. These items call for oil and I use Canola. Also, I don't use anything with trans fat or any type of preservative or corn syrup for that matter. Finally, Thomas, it wasn't marzipan in the Almond croissant. It is 50% of a French imported almond paste and 50% of an almond cream that I make myself called Frangipane. Its made with butter and almond flour and eggs, etc - and lightens up the almod paste. At any rate, I look forward to your next visit and would love to share how I make everything with you - which I do with customers when I get the chance.

Tino said...

@Michael: I agree, it was an honest mistake. And one that you and your staff promptly corrected.

Also, thanks so much for taking the time to answer the question about the butter and for correcting me on the croissant filling. I've made a correction to the original post.

It's also good to know that the pastries are trans-fat free, too, since that seems to be on a lot of people's minds as of late.

I will be back soon for more pastry. I'll see if I can bring some friends along with me.

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