Having lived within minutes of New York City and now in San Francisco, I’ve adopted an adoration for Russian bakeries. As soon as I realized I lived two minutes away from Moscow and Tbilisi, I walked over as fast as my legs could take me.
Moscow and Tbilisi looks like a classic bakery, with its light yellow awning and dark pink letters guiding you in. The faint smell of dough and sugar surround you, and the few tables are full with customers who all seem to be regulars.
Their offerings are organized by savory and sweet sections at the front of the counter. They offer traditional Russian dishes like potato pirozhkis, borsch, olivie or Russian Salad, napoleons, zefir, and perhaps the prettiest salmon pie I’ve ever seen. They also offer non traditional mousses, eclairs, and creme brûlées; noticeably absent from their display is the traditional blini (a thin Russian pancake, similar to a crepe.)
I picked a potato pirozhki and a coconut passion fruit mousse (not traditionally Russian, but worth a try nonetheless). The pirozhki was perfectly seasoned and warm. It somehow managed to be light despite being stuffed full of potato. The mousse was handed to me on a perfect little pink box, eliciting images from “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” but despite it’s beautiful presentation it was not as amazing as it seemed. It’s texture was a little too hard to be a mousse, but the mix between the coconut and the passion fruit jelly was redeeming.
In contrast to Moscow and Tbilisi, Cinderella Bakery looks a lot more minimalist and modern. With its outdoor area, simple white exterior, classic striped awning, and solid wood furniture, Cinderella seems a lot more serious than the colorful Moscow and Tbilisi.
It’s clients are also different; they skew younger, and are lining up outside of the small bakery for brunch. Cinderella brings you in with the rich smell of Ritual coffee and a beautiful layout. The pastries are not as colorful as the ones from Moscow and Tbilisi, but are decorated with little bits of fruit and frosting.
The menu is not as traditional as the one from Moscow and Tbilisi. It is extensive and includes breakfast, lunch, and dessert options. Cinderella Bakery would best be described as Russian American fusion, as they serve American classics like French toast along with classic Russian fare like vareniki, steamed potato dumplings.
I decided to order the same potato pirozhki, along with a slice of almond cake and a cup of coffee. The pirozhki came in a cute little Russian nesting doll covered paper bag and was well-seasoned, but it was a little greasy and not stuffed enough.
The almond cake was the greatest delight of all. It was perfectly spongy, frosted with what had to be handmade almond frosting, and was beautiful to look at with its creamy colors and leaf decoration.
Both Cinderella bakery and Moscow and Tbilisi are wonderful Russian style bakeries. While Cinderella may be prettier than Moscow and Tbilisi, their Russian style fare is not as good. However, Cinderella’s pastries alone are worth a trip. So next time you’re in the mood for Russian fare head to Moscow and Tibilisi for pirozhki and then to Cinderella for dessert and coffee al fresco.
Photo courtesy of Claudia Sanchez