There is something so unbelievably abhorrent about San Francisco’s “in” spots; lines full of hipsters, city blocks long, eagerly awaiting the moment they get their grubby hands on some stupid fusion dumpling, gluten-free/vegan/paleo/organic donut/pop tart/twinkie, savory ice cream (SO CRAZY!! it’s ice cream, but, it has BLUE CHEESE!!) thirty minute drip fair-trade coffee with a heart/dove/arrow swirled into the foam…the list goes on. There is even a goddamned barber who apparently fashions THE most spectacular circle beard/handlebar/chin strap/man bun this side of Black Rock city, that always, and I mean always, has a line around the block. When I drive by those places and see those idiots standing outside I want to pelt them with eggs or water baloons, or better yet, molotov cocktails and yell “FUCKERS!!!!”
And then, I was one. It happened under the cover of a dark morning fog, my baked goods loving, pregnant-due-at-any-second friend Samantha (Jack would make his way out of her womb a mere thirty hours later) my trusty sidekick.
You see, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is in MY neighborhood. Just, first of all. And when they opened, I was like, totally, I’m going to roll over there in my own good time and have a taste, and that’s not going to be any kind of problem, because I am basically the only person who knows about it. A few months went by, and then, I casually swung by on a Saturday morning at 8:15 to find not one, but TWO, lines of aforementioned assholes, going both up and down the block from the front door for some completely mysterious reason. Lines like that are never a one time deal. My secret neighborhood newcomer was a hit.
Soon after, I read a horror story on Eater SF about the 25 foot long lines that would form in the rain, before Mr. Holmes even opened; the bakery selling out and shuttering its doors by 10:00AM on a regular basis.
With an irritated, but this is MY neighborhood! whine, I let it go, resigned to knowing that I would never, in fact, sample their buttery, baked cruffins. Yeah, I just said cruffin.
But then, Samantha did a little research and presented me with a plan. We go on a weekday, we get there at 8:00 (an hour after they open; not advisable on weekend days), get in the non-cruffin line (Yeah. Two lines. Cruffin, non-cruffin), purchase some delicious baked goods, after which we pivot, with relative ease, into the cruffin line, with as little fanfare as possible and hopefully, blissfully, avoid being spotted.
Cruffins, Sam told me, become available promptly at 9:00 and carry with them a two per person maximum. God, I’m mad at myself just typing that.
And so it was that we came to be standing on Larkin street at 8:00, coffee from nearby Jane in hand, waiting for our turn at the counter. I know I am not supposed to like the visual of Mr. Holmes; the awesomely gold fonted packaging, which for some reason conjures images of a 1980’s arcade for me
or the tower of said gilted boxes in the window,
Or the snarky nod to San Francisco’s weed loving culture and hippy past
Or the stark white tiled walls with neon red signs. But I am only human. And that font REALLY appeals to me. I know I should be giving an exaggerated eye roll to the whole thing but I just can’t. Because I love it. I know. I will flee the country when I am done writing this post. It’s not like I begrudge Mr. Holmes their success; quite the opposite. I think they are badasses for pulling such a thing off; for succeeding so quickly and ferociously. But sadly, I do begrudge the doucehbags who make it possible. I suppose I’m stuck in my own judgmental catch-22.
The pasty counter is a fairly short one; behind it, stacks of baked butter and sugar, in myriad forms and varieties; donuts with vanilla cream, donuts with salted caramel, Amelie ammans, plain croissants, chocolate croissants, California croissants (savory: that day, filled with wasabi and smoked salmon, dusted with sesame), artichoke Danish, ham and cheese Danish, blueberry brioche bomb, Ferrero Rocher choux bomb.
Sam and I, we got a box of six items to sustain us through our cruffin wait.
Item one, the blueberry brioche bomb; a firm round of pastry topped with a slightly tart, not all cloying blueberry mixture, balanced by sweet, creamy, tangy cheese.
Item two, the Amelie amman, which vied with the ham and cheese Danish for my heart. The Amelie, it was super dense, with a sort of bruleed bottom and something sweet, a little wet, and a little sticky inside, like Cointreau (?? not sure).
Item three, the ham and cheese Danish; basically a square croissant, with loads of buttery layers, a delicious béchamel-esque filling, topped with diced ham which tasted a bit like pepperoni. It was kind of like pizza’s fancy pants cousin.
Item four, the salted caramel donut. I was expecting a custardy cream and I just about jizzed my pants when real, gooey, salted caramel oozed out. The donut, it was yeasty, soft, and fluffy. I’m going back there for donuts man, there is simply no doubt.
I did not get into items four and five (California croissant and choux bomb) because it was cruffin time and also, I was starting to feel ill. Samantha later reported that the choux bombs Ferrero Rocher cream tasted, well, just like Ferrero Rocher.
The cruffin. They make one flavor a day. That day, it was fluffernutter, which rocked my world in a crazy way, but I know a couple of peanut butter haters who would have really had their day ruined by that announcement. We were handed our allotted two each by a person who was pretty over people being excited about cruffins, and then, we each went home to recover from the sugar rot that was occurring in our respective bellies.
I got into my cruffin hours later, which of course means, it was not at its zenith of freshness, but, no matter. The fluffernutter filling was a velvety soft custard and it was generous. It was everywhere man, all up in that thing; the entire trunk piped full of the stuff. The cruffin, a sugary, buttery, flaky swirl with a surprisingly crunchy bottom. Was it delicious? WTF do you think? Of COURSE it was delicious. It was heaven in the prettiest little package.
So that’s it. I went, I waited in a line like a total douche, I fucking loved it, and I am going to do it again. There, I said it.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse:
1042 Larkin st
San Francisco, CA 94109
M-F 7:00-sold out
Sat & Sun 8:00-sold out
wish we live close enough
It’s pretty spectacular!
I live not even 1/2 a block away. I could have written this article, verbatim. I took note of them when they were getting the store ready, before they opened for business. Tried the croissant a few weeks after they opened (when @ most 5-6 in line); actually was a bit dry. Amazes me as I can see the lines form from my apartment every day. The feeling of disgust for the predictable knee-jerk reflexive SF hipster jumping on the latest “got to be in on it” trend is palpable. Does any place justifiably deserve this much hype?
joblo, no, literally NOTHING deserves that much hype. However, when the day comes that it dies down and you can get in on the non-cruffin side for a donut, do it! And, good to know about the croissant. I’m sorry you have to look at that nonsense every day.