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Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
If not for the slight rise of Santa Clara, you could see the ocean from the patio seats at Baked in Mission Beach. As it is, the waves are just out of sight but the cool, salty air that blows in off the sea is a welcome respite from the stagnant, sticky breathable water that we've been inhaling lately all over town.
Tending towards small, and made smaller for sharing interior space with a surf school, Baked is just off the main drag of Mission Blvd. It's billed as a "bakery" rather than a coffee shop because the ownership wants it known that all the pastries, cookies, breads, etc. are baked in house as opposed to being brought in on a truck every morning. More exclusive claims have been made, but it's still good to know.
There's some truth to the claim because, as a place to go and work over WiFi, Baked is only "meh" due to lack of inside seating. There's plenty of patio space, but errant sunlight threatens laptop visibility. It's much better to consider Baked a breakfast spot. Despite having a stoner name, it opens early and the coffee from Cafe Moto does the trick. They only have one variety of drip coffee, served unlabelled and without ceremony from a distant counter, but there's a full range of espresso drinks for anyone craving variety in caffeination.
The thing to have at Baked is the cinnamon rolls ($3.65). Monstrous, chewy, warmly spiced, and smothered in gobs of cream cheese icing, one of the buns lasts all the way through a cup of coffee. They're gooey enough that forks and knives are mandatory. Barring that, extra extra napkins.
If the roll rates too low on the decadence meter, Baked will grill one, stuff it with strawberries, and increase the cream cheese content for $4.99.
The menu also has panini (breakfast and lunchtime varieties), breakfast burritos, and quiche. A slice of spinach and ham quiche ($4.25) had a somewhat underbaked crust and a surprisingly sweet custard that set of the salty chunks of ham in a satisfying, albeit unexpected, way. A little side dish of broccoli salad brought on a case of inexplicable deja vu until I remembered that I'd seen the same dish at Whole Foods. Whether by accident, design, or outright purchase, Baked has the same salad as the grocery store's deli case.
Like most other places right on the beach, Baked is laid back and there's very little sense of urgency in the staff or the clientele. The menu isn't exactly rife with nutritious, fulfilling options for the busy person on the go, but putting away a hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll before stepping over to the beach would be exactly right.
735 Santa Clara Place