Category Archives: Bakery rolls

Bagels and Brew (Lake Forest, CA)

Quick Take

Decent, but not spectacular.

Review

Great cinnamon rolls are about balance: the bread, the cinnamon swirls, and the icing must be in tune with one another. They need to build to a collective goal like a fine orchestra rather than fight and bicker like so many schoolchildren.

The cinnamon roll from Bagels and Brew in Lake Forest, CA makes a respectable effort in the art, but it falls short overall.

Cinnamon roll from Bagels and Brew in Lake Forest, CA

Cinnamon roll from Bagels and Brew in Lake Forest, CA

I don’t want to give the impression that this roll was bad, because it wasn’t. It was fine. The icing didn’t have any weird aftertastes, the bread was neither over- nor under-done, and the cinnamon swirls were present.

While it wasn’t bad, neither was it amazing. Some of the roll layers had folded over on themselves, leading to a structure more akin to a cinnamon pull-apart than a roll. The bread itself was slightly on the dry side, though the roll was had in the late morning and thus was probably slightly past its prime. The cinnamon swirls could have been more assertive, as they were dominated by the rest of the treat, most notably the flavor of the frosting.

Overall, a good attempt that could be improved by turning more attention to balance. 8/10

Where to get it

Bagels and Brew

21771 Lake Forest Dr #100

Lake Forest, CA

Cascade Lodge Restaurant (Lutsen, MN)

Quick take

Decent overall, but could use a little work in the frosting department.

Review

If you drive north out of Minneapolis, you will eventually come to Duluth. If you continue, following Lake Superior’s North Shore, you will eventually come to Lutsen, which is one of the largest ski areas in the Midwest. Between the “mountains” and the lakeshore you’ll find the Cascade Lodge and its associated restaurant.

In the summer, the lodge is full of hikers and motorcyclists. In the winter, skiers and snowmobilers roam the halls. At all times of the year, there are cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon roll from the Cascade Lodge Restaurant in Lutsen, MN

Cinnamon roll from the Cascade Lodge Restaurant in Lutsen, MN

I was in the area for a wedding, and when I stopped for breakfast at the Cascade Lodge Restaurant, I noticed that cinnamon rolls were on the menu. Naturally, I indulged.

The flavor of the roll itself was nicely balanced, but the icing-style frosting was rather mundane. Since the roll bread was wide, flat, and slightly flaky, the choice of icing rather than buttercream made sense. Still, the icing was more monotone than I would have liked. Yes, I know that icing is primarily sugar, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have some zing to it. The good news is that there weren’t off flavors in the icing, so it was a lot better than, say, the terrible icing that is in Pillsbury tube “cinnamon rolls”.

The bread was slightly on the tough side, but I’m not going to ding the roll for that, as I actually got the pastry to go and ate it later in the day. (The omelet I had for breakfast there was filling enough to make me rethink my plan to have the roll as desert.)

It was a decent cinnamon roll, just not spectacular. 7/10

Where to get it

Cascade Lodge Restaurant

3719 W Hwy 61

Lutsen, MN

Tobies (Hinkley, MN)

Quick take

Not sure what all of the fuss is about

Review

It’s not uncommon for truck stop restaurants to claim to have amazing or “famous” cinnamon rolls. Sometimes those claims are merited, such as the incredible rolls at Tetsa River Services in British Columbia. Most of the time, though, the rolls fall far short of perfection. The product at Tobies is in that latter category.

Cinnamon roll from Tobies in Hinkley, MN

Cinnamon roll from Tobies in Hinkley, MN

Around the Twin Cities, Tobies (no apostrophe) has a reputation based on their cinnamon rolls. On many occasions I’ve had my Minnesota friends ask if I had stopped at Tobies yet. Indeed, as I sat in the restaurant, I watched group after group come up to the counter and order one or more cinnamon rolls to go. I saw it, but having now eaten one of their rolls, I don’t understand it.

The frosting was an unnatural white with little in the way of flavor beyond being sweet. The swirls were short on cinnamon.┬áThe bread was dry. I wasn’t sure why they served the roll with butter on the side — something I’d never previously seen done with a cinnamon roll — but after experiencing the dry bread, I kind of understand the rationale.

The whole thing was a disappointment. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good, and it certainly wasn’t worth pulling off of the freeway. 5/10

Where to get it

Tobies Restaurant and Bakery

404 Fire Monument Rd

Hinkley, MN