There’s just something about self-promotion. You have to live up to it. Especially if it is current. I have visited restaurants where the media clips and accolades sitting in, and on, the windows were simply just collecting dust from years gone by; the business inside had moved on and there was little relevance between the accolades and where the business was currently at.
These old memories sprung to mind as I pulled into Denmark, Western Australia recently for lunch and – hanging out for a pie – pulled into the Denmark Bakery.
I have never seen such a decorated shop. As in decorated with prizes and awards for their goods. As far as I could tell, the Denmark Balery had been collecting awards by the bag load since 2008. There were news clippings, trophies and plaques all throughout the shop and over the external walls. And these weren’t just statewide awards either; we’re talking national.
As you would expect, I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself right about now for literally wandering blindly into the best pie shop this side of (insert place name here).
Without hesitation I ordered a Peppered Steak pie, a slice of Beesting cake, and a small skinny flat white coffee form the wonderfully friendly staff manning the food counters. While providing an al-fresco seating area, Denmark Bakery does not do anything other than take aways.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from such an awarded bakery, but the pie wasn’t the greatest that I had eaten. For sure, the pie was well crafted, firm and generally ate well. I was halfway through the pie and starting to form my opinions when my travelling companion verbalised my thoughts – ‘nice pie, it holds together well, but where is the wow? it all needs seasoning’. my thoughts exactly; all in all, my pie seemed to be compromised for the purpose of mass production.
The filling was a nice ratio of mince and chunky beef, but I found the gravy quite gelatinous and bland. The pastry was actually really quite good; golden, firm and flaky. My pie was screaming pepper flavour – as you would expect from a peppered steak pie – but the real let down was that the pie was good – not great.
The Beesting slice was another good-but-not-great item. Again, I found that the layer of amazing custard between slices of bread, topped with caramelised almonds and honey was very easy to eat with my hands straight from the paper bag.
However, the incredibly thick top bread layer had sadly gone hard with a stale like texture. I wondered if it had been frozen? A preposterous notion considering the prestige for quality this bakery has to uphold? But the thin bottom layer was almost at the point of being soggy. Was this more evidence of freezing and thawing? I don’t really know.
Thankfully the coffee made up for these minor indiscretions. And yet, the coffee – I believe – should not have been the best thing to come out of an award winning bakery.
Could I do better myself? No, quite unlikely. Have I had better pies? Yes, as cook to order items in restaurants and bistros. Was this pie worth the premium price charged by the bakery? I don’t believe so.
If anyone is going to market themselves based on their awards, then they simply ought to live up to the high standards they set for themselves.
For me – on this visit – the pie and slice did not deliver for the Denmark Bakery.