I decided to check out Fresh Start Bakery (484 Riverbend Square) with my parents while we were in the area this afternoon. I had originally read about the cafe in Vue Weekly, and noticing the apparent hunger in Edmonton for upscale breads and treats (Fresh Start joins Cobbs Bread and the more established Bon Ton and Bee Bell Bakeries), it seemed time to try the city’s latest.
Catering to the wealthy and idle, the cafe was clean and spacious, with stone accents and marble counters to boot. Atop the hearth sat a flat-panel television screen, listing the country songs being played on the digital radio station. The bakery counter was located to the left of the entrance, displaying fresh loaves and desserts too saccharine for a late lunch. My dieter’s sensibility drove me instead to the bistro showcase.
Given the location of this cafe, expensive dishes were to be expected. The bistro side offered some freshly-prepared goods, including paninis, rice bowls, and pizza, but also some heat-from-the-cooler standard coffee shop fare, such as quiche and shepherd’s pie. I opted for the latter, while my Mum ordered a large bowl of beef and vegetable soup.
The pie was nicely plated, but sadly, I couldn’t tell if it had been microwaved or oven-heated (usually indicative of the former). Still, the beef was well-seasoned, with a reasonable quantity of vegetables, and the cookie-pressed mashed potato florets created a distinctive presentation. My Mum’s soup was disappointing in size ($5.99 for the bowl), but she did appreciate the low sodium flavored broth and generous portion of beef included.
Before heading home, we opted to take home some baked goods. I chose a Montreal-style cheese bagel, and after a frustrating “Who’s on first?” type exchange with the clerk (“No, we want the goosen, NOT the cinnamon bun!”), my mum ended up with a cinnamon bun (don’t ask). I found the bagel to be worth a return trip – crunchy with a sumptuous cheesy essence. My Dad commented that the cinnamon bun was good, but inferior to Mum’s own.
Fresh Start can be considered an alternative to the run of the mill coffee chain, and if I happen to be in Riverbend in the future, I wouldn’t overlook dropping by for a cup of coffee. But I’d be sure to load up on a heartier meal elsewhere first.
Fresh Start Bakery (I neglected to bring my camera, so I was forced to take an image from the website).