Corner Bakery Cafe's Breakfast Disappoints -- A Lot

In an effort to make Mom proud, Chow Bella's taking a good, hard look at the most important meal of the day in the form of Scrambled, a mashup of breakfast recipes, news and reviews of local restaurants serving the a.m. crowd.

Corner Bakery Cafe in Peoria is the setting for this week's Scrambled. While in the Arrowhead area recently, we wanted to head into Mike and Rhonda's The Place but were scared away by the long lines and decided to keep driving. We wanted some decent morning grub and didn't think we could wait too terribly long without beginning to turn into a cranky "I waited too long to eat" dining companion. A map search on a smartphone listed Corner Bakery Cafe, and even though we weren't sure exactly what it was, we thought we'd give it a go and find out.

Turns out, this is a fast-casual type restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch with friendly young servers who ring up your order among the homemade-looking plastic and ribbon wrapped bundt cakes at the refrigerator case/register. We took our table number and drink cups to the self service drink station to pour-our-own and then waited for our food to arrive.

We ordered the croissant breakfast sandwich and fruit and the baked French toast from a menu listing egg scrambles with various additions, breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, yogurt and fruit.

As soon as we got our drinks and sat down at a booth, we looked around the brown wood paneled high walls and felt the low energy in the space as we quietly sipped our drinks. Sure, the soda pop was as expected (those machines are calibrated to taste the same everywhere) but the coffee was thin and flavorless.

The food arrived on rectangular-shaped melamine plates and the flatware came in paper sleeves.

We bit into the croissant sandwich and were mightily disappointed at how greasy and packaged it tasted. We eyed the baked French toast and, yep, it was bread pudding with syrup on top. It didn't quite taste freshly made. The scrambled eggs were over done. In fact, we had the sinking feeling like we were at the airport and that the kitchens at Corner Bakery Cafe are finishing kitchens where they just assemble and reheat food. We didn't take a tour of the kitchen so we can't tell you how they do it, we can just tell you how it tasted.

The best thing on our table was the side order of potatoes (sorry, we didn't snap a picture) -- waxy red potatoes cubed roasted with big chunks of red onion. The charred edges on the potatoes and onions were flavorful and tasted like real food.

We'd consumed quite a few calories in this meal because we were hungry but we still left the table unsatisfied. It's funny, upon loading up the pictures for this post, the food doesn't look all that bad, but unfortunately the tasting portion of the meal just didn't rise to the occasion.

Later, our research revealed that Corner Bakery Cafe is owned by the investment company that also owns Il Fornaio, Arby's, Schlotzsky's and Cinnabon (all better choices than Corner Bakery Cafe -- which is saying a lot). There are loads of these Corner Bakery Cafes all over the country and the person who took our order said that there are many more of these Corner Bakery Cafe's planned for Arizona.

So, if you haven't made it to one of the Corner Bakery Cafe's in town, let us be the one who took the fall for you all. Take a pass when someone mentions it for breakfast.

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Jennifer Woods
Contact: Jennifer Woods