Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Power Lunch

Posted on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge A pambazo sandwich with potato chips from Flour Power Café & Bakery.
  • A pambazo sandwich with potato chips from Flour Power Café & Bakery.
Release Date: 2009-11-18

This was all an accident. 

I set out to review an entirely different restaurant in the same center and ended up at Flour Power instead. (The intended target had capricious hours.) Based entirely on the name, I didn’t expect much. There I go again … 

But the café and bakery had some surprises up its ’70s-sounding sleeve. The interior is saved from the terminal cuteness the name implies by bold colors and an inventive floor-as-ceiling treatment. And although the menu has that please-all appearance common to many soup, salad, and sandwich places, there are rewards to be reaped in the wrap, panino, and burger categories. 

The daily specials rotate around the house’s black-bean soup, which is solidly good in a straightforward way — no Cuban bell peppers, no Southwestern shenanigans, just black beans. It contrasted well with the equally simple but altogether appealing house salad of lettuce scattered with shredded carrot and cubed tomato. I chose the creamy avocado dressing, and in addition to a pleasing taste and texture, its color was a perfect complement to the sprightly salad.  

Hungarian mushroom, the soup special on another day, wasn’t as visually appealing as the black bean, but it was equally unaffected in taste: just cubed mushrooms, a broth that was the essence of umami and perhaps a hint of dill.

Things get a little more complex when the sandwiches arrive, however. Sticklers for form should be warned that Flour Power’s panini (the plural form of the singular panino, by the way) are not grilled in a press as we have come to expect. Rather, the fillings are tucked into a split flatbread that is then, I assume, griddled. The chicken-pesto panino is stuffed with grilled chicken, the pesto, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and mozzarella. It’s a fine, gooey mess that only needs a little salt to perk it up.  

The pasta salad that’s an option with the grilled sandwiches is based on a tri-color spiral and is better than most. Way better than most cute café sandwiches is the pambazo, a lusty concoction based on pulled pork with refried beans, jack cheese, avocado, tomatoes, red onions, and mayo on a respectable-enough French bun. Loved it. Had to take half home. Still loved it the next day. 

I was also pretty impressed with the cheesecake I took home. I’m not normally a big fan of this dessert staple, but the raspberry-white-chocolate slice seemed to call out from the display case. White chocolate added to the lushness of the filling; the raspberry swirls were both pretty and appealingly jammy. More power to ’em. — Ron Bechtol

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