You know you've hit the 'burbs when you're at a strip mall that tries to conjure the spirit of some stately English public house by adding E's to the end of its name. To get to the last standing Honey Bear Bakery, you've got to drive north past Lake City until you hit the Lake Forest Park Towne Centre.
Honey Bear's northern hub has lost the lore of its famed original Greenlake location that presently houses the Elysian's Tangletown pub. The Ravenna Honey Bear inside Third Place Books on 65th St. is now defunct, too, replaced by Vios.
But loyal fans of the shop's layer cake slices that are bigger than the average face can head to the Commons, a glorified food court next to Lake Forest Park Towne Centre's Third Place Books. The Honey Bear rubs shoulders with a BBQ joint, a Japanese restaurant, a Mexican place, and a pizza shop that also sells curly fries, 24 flavors of soft serve, and weirdly, pho.The ample seating around the Honey Bear is a bit of a parent's dream, with wooden tables and chairs surrounding a life sized chess board, play area, and stage that hosts the likes of weekend dance recitals and other community performances.
The menu at the bakery is a dichotomy, both pleasing and disappointing, sometimes at once. For example, a couple of excellent blends from Seattle roaster Victrola are served next to sick-o creamickle lattes with the added curse of white chocolate syrup. Spa-like spinach goat cheese salads are offered next to spicy beef hoagies that might as well be served in a neon lit deli in Jersey City.
Honey Bear would be better off considering ways to infuse more seasonal ingredients to freshen an apparently fixed menu. It's a head scratcher why pumpkin muffins and curried sweet potato soup are up for grabs smack dab in the middle of July.
While the menu doesn't contain a lot of surprises, Honey Bear prepares solid sandwiches, like the veggie stacked with avocado and tomato, then wet down with hummus and tzaziki. Same goes for the berry turkey with a slathering of cream cheese.
So many variations of custom made cakes, cookies, and scones make it pretty impossible to pass on something sweet. My marionberry applesauce muffin moved from moist on the edges to underdone on the inside. Craving carbs, I ate the whole thing anyways.