Shelli DeRobertis 5:08 p.m., June 19
I'd seen the Specialty's Cafe & Bakery sign a dozen times from Genesee or La Jolla Village Drive in University City, but I could never figure out exactly where the place was. Today I was in the area around breakfast time, so I drove into the maze of office buildings and finally found it over on the Genesee side of the complex.
I like the sleek, modern interior of the place. It's pretty large, and has a nice fireplace/sofa/tv area with the Food Network on. It seems like a warm, comfy place to come with office friends for lunch. The coffee is Peet's, and they have a full selection of pastries and cookies, breakfast and regular sandwiches, soups and salads. You can order online, from the counter, or from the computers conveniently situated by the door. The computer ordering system is very user-friendly. Order, swipe your card, and take your receipt, along with one of those buzzy, strobe light things so you know when to go grab the food. I get a small brewed coffee ($1.80) and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich ($4.59). I'm a sucker for egg sandwiches.
So, as I said, the computer ordering is pretty cool. Only, your coffee order isn't part of the buzzy pager system. The Peet's part and the Specialty's part are different, you pick coffee up at one counter, the food goes to another counter. Okay. Maybe I missed that on one of the screens. No big deal.
I pick a leather chair near the fireplace and watch a celebrity chef putting what appears to be Hall's Mentholyptus cough drops on a snowman cake for a while. Enough to start wondering what the heck was taking my sandwich so long. The buzzer finally goes off, and I grab my tray. I'm starving.
Oh. The eggs look, feel and taste like powdered eggs. Really? Even an Egg McMuffin has a real egg in it. The bacon's fine, if tissue paper-thin, but the cheese is just an oily square. I can't even tell what kind it is. (It's cheddar, according to the website.) The roll looks okay, and it's crispy when I bite into it, but it's pretty bland. I guess, after seeing all those fresh loaves in the kitchen, I was expecting more. What I wasn't expecting was a good schmear of garlicky aioli. Okay, I love that. But overall, meh. It's like the breakfast sandwiches at a free hotel buffet. The coffee's good though.
Maybe I'll come back sometime and see if the pastry is better.
4330 La Jolla Village Dr.
San Diego, CA 92122
Monday - Friday 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
One free hour lot parking with validation.
Various San Diego locations.