Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - December 7, 2007

Goldilocks and the three eclairs

Full-serve bakeshop adds some savory Filipino favorites

by Sheila Himmel

With a name like Goldilocks, it's got to be what — a porridge-based restaurant?

On closer examination, the sign says "Goldilocks: Cakes, Breads, Pastries, Asian Cuisine." Get it now?

Me neither, except that Goldilocks' surnames indicate a sweet tooth.

Inside the Mountain View store, near Pet Club in the Costco shopping center, most of the view is of pastries, many behind a long glass counter, some in packages on display tables. A wall of effusively decorated sheet cakes offers themes from "Spider-Man 3" to "My First Barbie." (The Spidey cake is topped by a towering Gotham City background, Barbie by the doll herself.) Goldilocks' cake flavors range from chocolate to halo-halo (sweet bean). But let's stop there on the way out, since Goldilocks promises a meal from the Philippines.

Cuisine of the Philippines is a rainbow of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Mexican and U.S. stripes. Past the pastries you may notice a menu board listing hot and savory items. If you don't already know dinacdacan from lechon kawali, the menu isn't much help.

I ordered by pointing to a tray and asking what it held. "No thanks" on the otherwise attractive dinuguan ($4.99), pork cooked in pork blood; and lechon kawali ($3.99), deep-fried pork belly with liver sauce. "Yes please" on the beef kaldereta ($4.99), a spicy stew; Chinese pork asado ($4.29), mainly pork butt; and dinacdacan ($3.99), grilled strips of pork.

Lumpia may be more familiar to non-Filipinos. Goldilocks offers the usual deep-fried eggrolls stuffed with chopped pork, shrimp and vegetables that you dip in gooey sweet and sour sauce. Those are lumpia Shanghai ($3.35). The other lumpia dish is like mu-shu vegetables wrapped in a crepe. They call it fresh lumpia ($3.90).

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the three-item lunch ($6.99) is a good deal. You pick the items, one of which can be rice or noodles. Chicken adobo was a meaty thigh and leg swimming in a salty sea of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Sweet glazed pork had a better flavor, although it was lukewarm and some of the chunks were pure fat. I chose garlic rice, pungent with shards of browned garlic. Everyone else seemed to get plain rice, shaped like a hockey puck. Either way, it's good rice, short-grained and semi-sticky.

The staff could be a little more willing to answer questions, especially at times when the restaurant isn't busy.

Drinks include fresh mango juice, and fresh calamansi juice. I first read this as "calamari" but it refers to a lime-like fruit that shows up a lot in Filipino cooking.

Over in the far corner are the condiments, utensils, coffee and soft drinks. Oddly, Goldilocks goes to the trouble of serving Seattle's Best Coffee, with packets of powdered non-dairy creamer rather than real milk.

A steady stream of lunch diners stopped by the pastry side on the way out. Many Goldilocks desserts retain the Spanish names they were born with, like leche flan, lengua de gato cookies and brazo de Mercedes cake. There's a whole line of preserves made from coconut, yam, fruit, tapioca balls and red beans. Buko pandan jelly ($5.69) combines strips of young coconut and jelly made from pandan leaves (green in color, butterscotch in flavor) with custard and sweet cream sauce.

Among the packaged goodies, beware "Biscotti With Butter" (7-ounce bag for $3.29). They look harmless, but taste like packing material dipped in movie popcorn "butter." Chocolate Crinkles (7-ounce bag for $2.99) also claim zero grams of trans fats, but you have to read way down the ingredient list before getting to their brush with chocolate: alkalized Dutch cocoa powder. Marble cake ($1.15) is a far better choice.

Goldilocks was born in 1966 as a small bakeshop in Makati, Philippines. Two sisters and their sister-in-law chose the name, according to the Web site, because the golden-ringlet girl "seemed to suggest luck." There are now 18 Goldilocks stores in the United States and Canada, with headquarters in Hayward.

Except for the free porridge, I'd say old Goldilocks had more pluck than luck. She does not wait for things to happen.

Goldilocks

1020 N. Rengstorff Ave., Mountain View

650-968-4980

www.goldilocks-usa.com

Hours:

Mon.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

Comments

Posted by Good Review, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 11, 2007 at 11:35 am

I agree w/this review. The offerings there are hit or miss most of the time, as far as quality is concerned. Since this is the US, it would behoove the staff to be more helpful & friendly about what's what. It's more like fast food, & the packaged stuff can't be fully trusted.


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