Coffee Bar; Trompe-L’œil Doughnut

In the French language, Trompe-l’œil means to fool the eye. Personally, I am big fan of Trompe-l’œil as an art form. I have practiced it myself — painting a living room ceiling blue with fluffy clouds giving the appearance of a lovely Spring day with the naked sky above me. I learned it as a decorating motif, making the eye see more space than really exists. There are very famous renditions of Trompe-l’œil in the art world, including the modern Carlo Marchiori and his muralist haven, Ca’Toga in Calistoga.

And there is a slight sense of irony that I experienced a little Trompe-l’œil moment at San Francisco’s Coffee Bar. Located in an area in SoMa (South of Market, for those you unfamiliar with our neighborhoods), I had just finished a painting lesson when I settled in at the upstairs bar which looks down upon the workers. I am a metalsmith by training and I had been taking painting lessons from Chris Leib to expand my repertoire.

I spied the dark brown, cinnamon-studded morsels in the pastry case and ordered one alongside a latté. I have to say, it was one damn-fine latté. The “doughnut,” however, was not a doughnut at all. My eye had been tricked by its size, demeanor, and gorgeousness. This hunk of dough had not been fried, but baked. It was dry and leaden and crumbly. It was probably vegan (although I have had some very good vegan pastries) in its attempt to be HEALTHY. Apparently the Coffee Bar gets their pastries (or at least this one) from Jasmine Rae Bakery, but here was an attempt to make something decidedly unhealthy less so. Sadly, it didn’t quite succeed in even being a good baked good. Very crumbly and the consistency of the classic Dolly Madison crumb cake but with so much cinnamon as to burn the mouth.

1890 Bryant St
(between 17th St & Mariposa St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Mission
(415) 551-8100


Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon

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