They say the proof is in the pudding -- and here at Chow Bella we say it's in the bread pudding, a dessert that's hard to pull off. We hit up two favorites, The Gladly in Phoenix and The Mission in Scottsdale, to see which local restaurant does it best.
In This Corner: The Gladly
The Setting: With windows from floor to ceiling, The Gladly has an open, yet comforting feel. Inside it's modern and stark, but the service is anything but, with friendly servers and a cozy feeling. The Gladly is a concept restaurant flowing from Citizen Public House, and stocks a full bar and a menu filled with salads, seafood and game meat.
The Good: The s'mores bread pudding at The Gladly is perfect for those who aren't too keen on soggy bread. The chocolate bread is moist, but not wet, with a roasted marshmallow on top. On the side is a scoop of chocolate ice cream, and crushed graham crackers all on top of chocolate drizzle. When all the elements are eaten together, it really is like eating a s'more. We like to think of it as a modern take on the campfire favorite. Like already stated, the bread isn't sopping, so there's no nauseating factor to the dessert. Most times a s'more is way too sugar-y to get through, but The Gladly's version carries just the right amount of sweetness.
The Bad: The bread pudding wasn't as moist as we expected. If it was a basic cake, we would rave about how moist it was. But since we expected a bread pudding, our expectations weren't quite met.
In The Other Corner: The Mission
The Setting: Aptly set in a mission, The Mission is a modern Latin restaurant, serving up more than your typical taco, and creating twists on simple beans and rice. The mini corn tortillas are all made by hand, and the restaurant is known for a wonderful table side guacamole, made to order. Because it's not just Mexican food on the menu, they have a great selection of fish and pork. Eat inside or outside, either way your experience will be full of Latin flare.
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The Good: The Mission's bread pudding has a base of homemade pumpkin bread. It's smothered with butterscotch, a scoop of ice cream, and topped with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. Eating the first bite brings on a warm, home-y food. We're glad it didn't have that typical "pumpkin spice" flavor, but more like pumpkin pie. The bread pudding was much more moist, but still held its shape. It was hot upon arrival, and melted nicely with the ice cream. With the addition of pumpkin seeds and pomegranate, the added crunch balanced out the moist texture of the pudding.
The Bad: This bread pudding was mostly perfect, but the pomegranate seeds were a little annoying to chew through. We would've been okay with just the pumpkin seeds.
The Winner: This battle was difficult to judge. Both bread puddings were distinct, and both varied in moisture. If you're a fan of less moisture and a more firm bread pudding, then The Gladly's s'mores pudding is the best bet for you. But if you prefer a more moist texture, the pumpkin route at The Mission is sure to satisfy. For our money, we loved The Mission's bread pudding.