|Bob’s Red Mill Cafe Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location:5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, Oregon 97222|
|Hours: Monday-Friday 6am – 6pm
Saturday 7am – 5pm
Many people are familiar with Bob’s Red Mill grain products. Those lucky enough to live in the Portland have the opportunity to visit the Bob’s Red Mill store and cafe in the Milwaukie suburb.
On arrival to the area you start to wonder if you have the correct address because it appears to be a business complex district. Then, there it is in all it’s glory. It’s like a drink of fresh water in the desert! A huge red building with beautifully landscaped land. Once entering the building you see everything Bob’s Red Mill is packed into a grocery store – it’s stimulation overload! The cafe is not what I expected at all. It’s cafeteria-style dining in the back of the store with a with few signs leading the way, but there’s a plethora of seating. There are two separate menus – the omni and the vegetarian menu. On my visit the vegetarian menu was tucked behind the omni menu making me feel defeated after a long car trip to Bob’s mecca.
The vegetarian menu offers three items for vegans – the Vegan Gluten-Free Flapjacks ($4.75), the Vegan French Toast ($4.75), and the Tofu Scrambler ($6.95). Various vegan sides like Cottage Potatoes ($4.95), Oatmeal ($3.95), Muesli ($3.95), and Fruit ($5.95) are also options, but less exciting. The lunch menu offers a 2 Veggie Deli Sandwiches ($5.95-7.25), and a Veggie Burgers ($7.29). For the vegetarians, there is Garden Sausage available to accompany your meals.
The Gluten-Free Flapjacks are simply the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pancake Mix variety you can make at home. The French Toast is 3 pieces of bread soaked in a sweet vanilla batter, a little too long, before being pan fried. These are both served with Earth Balanch and pure maple syrup. I found the thin, Wonderbread-esque soft bread to be a welcome way to serve French Toast over the thick, dense, non-absorbant bread often served at other restaurants around town. However, by my second slice of soggy bread I was wishing for thicker bread to enjoy the tastey batter. Within 6 minutes I had completed my meal. I can see those with larger stomachs to be disappointed and unfulfilled, perhaps Cottage Potatoes would help.
The Tofu Scrambler contained a firm, crumbled tofu, broccoli, Lisanatti soy cheese (which we later found out is not vegan), small amounts of red onions and peppers, and assumed, spices. The dish was bland and with the few condiments around, ketchup, it remained bland. Seeing the nutritional yeast, and other spices in the store’s bulk section below was tempting to buy my own spices to add some flavor. The dish just tasted like broccoli.
The Biscuits and Gravy, available in both vegetarian and omni seemed to be the most popular item on the menu, based on what other diners were ordering. The vegetarian Waffles, and French Toast were a close second and third. The vegetarian omni food looked great – Large homemade biscuits, Belgian Waffles, and thick French Toast with vegetarian or animal sausage. It felt like a parade of omni options marching by and servers delivered food to the tables. With a menu that shows hopeful vegan options, it cast a negative view of what vegan food can be compared to omni options. Even at 80 cents less for the Vegan French Toast, I would expect the size and orange wedge garnish to be the same.
After the disappointing breakfast, I found shopping to be manageable when it was first over-stimulating. The prices of bulk didn’t seem much cheaper than at a grocery store. I found some Bob’s Red Mill products I hadn’t seem else where and that was exciting. Unfortunately, the highlight of the trip wasn’t Bob’s store, no matter the dozens of bulk bags that followed me home, but the Dave’s Killer Bread/Nature Bake store across the street! Dave’s bread for $2/loaf! Right on!
Visiting Bob’s Red Mill was cool just to visit, like a museum, but not so much for the food, maybe lunch would be more promising. We didn’t enjoy the breakfast much and didn’t find the prices to be much cheaper than at a regular grocery store. Sorry Bob, but I won’t be back unless I am in the neighborhood and remember I need more Teff seed.