A Sweet Awakening
By Ashley Bennett
Eating food should be a democracy made up of hungry people who can choose what they want when they feel like it, not when the time dictates what must be eaten. No longer should you worry that you’ve missed breakfast because you decided to earn some much needed rest by sleeping in. With a slew of exclusive recipes at the Pine Have Café varying from sweet to salty or hearty to healthy, the Pine Haven Café has many tempting menu items that will keep you coming back for more.
The Pine Haven Café sits in a banquet room at the front of the GuestHouse Hotel & Suites in Upland (no paid room needed to visit). Owner Sharon Ellis is proud of her recent opening of the Café and there’s a clear passion in the way she greets and serves her customers. She’s just one of those owners who loves cooking and loves satisfying others with the food she makes even more. The Café stemmed from her successful catering company which is still functional and very much a part of the Pine Haven Café’s charm and menu.
It’s hard to get out of the mindset that any time after 12 p.m. lunch time, even I was convinced that lunch is what I should consume—until I scanned over the Hazelnut French Toast. Imagine a French toast sandwich, the exterior consisting of sweet Hawaiian bread dipped in a chocolate milk and egg mixture, which housed sliced bananas and oozed the never-ending hazelnut-chocolate addiction of . . . Nutella. Sure I could have upped the sweet factor with maple syrup but the dish came with a side of Rum Flambe, a gooey syrup that isn’t sweet enough to overpower the natural sugar of the bananas or richness of the Nutella filling but has a very distinct flavor. Sticky, too. The entirety of this French toast is new, down to the very bread that barely holds in the steamin’ sweetness.
For those who often find themselves skipping breakfast because it’s loaded with too much sugar, the Pine Haven Café has an equally enticing list of menu items for the late-risers. The day I visited there was a daily special; a unique set of sliders called the PH Open Faced Slider Trio. Three mini-burgers sitting on an English muffin with no cover (hence the Open Faced) with a texture alone that transforms your thoughts of how a burger should taste. Instead of expecting a warm, breaded substance on the upper roof of my mouth was instead various flavors as each slider donned different toppings. One (my favorite) sported gorgonzola, goat cheese, crunchy bacon bits and a spicy chipotle mayo between burger and bun. The second went a different route with spinach and feta cheese, and the third with jalapeno. Each one was a creative delight in the alteration of a typical, American cheese-burger. Each one packs its own punch.
There’s a good news and bad news to the dessert menu. The good news is that it’s a full page of tantalizing treats, both familiar and new. The bad news is that to keep things fresh and pure of day-old crust and staleness, many of the items can only be ordered when they’re made that day. Normally these are available when a catering order demands cookies; a few will be made to sell in the Café (Sorry, you might have to check back later to try Dorothy’s Double D’s). Luckily I did get my hands on Sharon’s Gooey Cake Bar; a sweet, softened square slice of what looks like thin bread topped with a few slivered almonds.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reviewing the Pine Haven Café, which also has an amazing Sunday buffet and a new ground-breaking Friday and Saturday night buffet as well. No matter if you’re on the side of a sweet awakening or filling afternoon burgers, the Pine Haven Café would be something I would certainly vote for. Well, actually there’s no competition to vote against.
Pine Haven Café, 1191 E. Foothill Blvd., Upland, (909) 946-4674; www.pinehavencatering.com. Open Tues-Sun, 7am-3pm. Fri-Sat, 5pm-9pm. AE, D, MC, V.