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Flour Bakery - Hazlenut Dacquoise and Staffing

One of the pastries in Boston that had been mentioned as being particularly worthy was the Hazlenut Dacquoise at Flour.

I just ate one this afternoon. It was sweet and tasty. And probably in the top 20 in Boston desserts, outside of a restaurant, but I won't be in any hurry to mistake it for world class patisserie.

For starters there was almost no dacquoise in that dacquoise. The dacquoise layer was an eigth or so of the height of the 1.50" high cake. The rest was sort of classic Boston: 1/2" of thick, way to dense coffee hazlenut butter cream, and about the same amount of way to dense and thick dark chocolate mousse, then dark chocolate glaze/frosting.

Delicious I won't deny, but about half way through my feeling was that I was sucking down an entire stick of butter. None of the light ethereal blending of textures and flavors that constitute really fine patisserie. I honestly could not eat the whole thing, the last third ended it's life in the trash on Washington Street.

It was just too much. Two hours later I still feel like I swallowed a whale, kind of a gurgly, high butterfat whale. I don't really need to eat that again. Okay, I might share one with two other people some other time, only if washed down with a double epresso. But if I never eat it again that's just fine.

Oh, and the staffing, did I mention the staffing. Line out the door. Not moving at all.

20 people working behind the counter (seriously) mostly staring at each other, looking lost, and making idle chitchat. I was stunned. With 6 competent people and one good manager you could do three times the volume.

The person who served me appeared to be some kind of manager and between chatting with another customer, then the staff, then fiddling with the espresso machine, took 10+ minutes to slice and box one piece of cake.

After that there was ANOTHER line to pay that was 6 people deep and not particularly moving. I finally gave up, threw my $5 on the counter, and told them to keep the change.

I had crossed Flour off my list a long way back. Trying the dacquoise was the only temptation to return. I guess I should stick to my guns.

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Flour Bakery + Cafe
1595 Washington St, Boston, MA

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  1. One of my kids worked at another Flour. Management of counter staff was not well organized and it was stressful. If stress comes from customers, that's one thing, but stress coming from the work environment is more annoying as an employee.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lergnom

      Honestly one of the worst-run service counters I have EVER seen!

      And 4 hours later that thing is still rumbling around my tummy.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        Ditto on the worst run service counter....it's pretty comical as long as you're not in the line :-)

        1. re: StriperGuy

          Total agreement on the worst service. I live just a block from the Washington Street store - and Flour fanatics are so jealous, but the whole set up is so unpleasant that I would never consider it.

      2. Agree on the dacquoise -- like eating an entire stick of butter is a good description. I find their Boston cream pie, while delicious, is like that too. I enjoy Flour (the savory items, the cookies, and the bread or brioche-based items, not so much the pastry/cake items) but I don't think it tries to be fine patisserie.

        I usually go to the Fort Point location, where the staff is efficient and keeps lines moving.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Pia

          I am at the FP location virtually every day and have since they opened. I'm known by sight/name, so I feel like I'm fairly well- qualified to say this and frankly, they've asked me what I think and I've told them so this isn't random complaining. But here's my take on Flour and the lines:

          While I agree the staff is very nice, friendly and try to do their best to move the line along, the biggest problem there is that management simply refuses to appropriately staff the place for the level of business they do. I go in the mornings every day and sometimes lunch too and they NEVER EVER use both cash registers. Yes, they have a dedicated cashier, which helps, but that person can only process things one check at a time. Why would a business decide the least important staff coverage is the point of sale? I mean, it makes no sense to me. They would rather permit a line to run out the door in the mornings (when people have limited time) than force a staffer to stay at both registers so that 2 checks could be processed at once.

          Secondly , they almost always have a dedicated counter person making cappuccinos/espresso drinks, which strikes me as a colossal waste of money. The person makes 1 drink at a time and that takes easily 3-4 minutes per drink, which generally prevents them from helping out with people who want bakery items or iced coffee/tea or drinks that don't require the espresso machine. That strikes me as a huge money waste since one bakery item and an iced coffee is now north of $6 and takes less than 1 minute to serve.

          Third, their whole deal with the throwaway tissues -- yes, latex gloves are not aesthetically appealing, but since they're constantly grabbing items off plates, why not wear a bakery glove? Half the time, the counter people are gingerly hovering over a plate of sticky buns trying to figure out how to grab it with the tissue, like one of those carnival claws in the plastic tank that slowly drop down to try and grab elusive trinkets. It wastes easily 10-15 seconds per item -- not much, but it adds up esp. on weekends when the suburbanites come in and buy a box of stuff.

          I also feel that they do a poor job forecasting their needs -- if one person comes up and says "I want 24 sticky buns" at 8:15 am, they sell them and then they're out of them for the rest of the day. I personally don't eat them, but I've seen many tourists and people who saw the Bobby Flay Throwdown episode who get very upset when they go there specifically to try the sticky buns and they're out of them well before noon. To me, if you're going to promote a specific item on national TV and you want it to be your signature item, then you need to do a better job making sure you can deliver to customers or risk losing them permanently.

          That said, I like most things there (never had the Dacquoise), they have great iced coffee and it's a much friendlier place to go than Sportello, which also has good hot coffee, shorter lines, great croissants and coconut cake, but a weird, unfriendly vibe.

          -----
          Sportello
          348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

          1. re: misscucina

            My daughter said the owners seemed disconnected from the realities of counter operations. This was 2 years ago.

            1. re: misscucina

              I've only been there a dozen times, max, but on no less than two occasions, there's been someone in line on the verge of tears because of the lack of sticky buns -- both times, tourists. "It's my mother's 90th birthday and I promised her one of those sticky buns she saw on TV, and I drove all the way from Providence to pick it up!" -- no joke.

              1. re: misscucina

                I'm also a regular at the FP location and agree with almost everything you say, misscucina. At lunch time, the real bottleneck is the sandwich counter, so if the orders were taken more efficiently they would just pile up with the sanwich makers, (which is another way of saying that they should try to get more people making sandwiches at lunch time). But the morning lines could be handled much faster if the staff were better organized and the layout improved. It took me more than 10 minutes just to get a cup of coffee this morning! I've largely given up on Flour for morning coffee and opt for Sportello instead. I found the vibe there a little srange at first, but it's grown on me.

                -----
                Sportello
                348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

                1. re: misscucina

                  missc, sounds like your analysis is a very sharp one. i do wish that 1) CH had a higher profile in the chef community, and 2) that more food business owners actually wanted constructive feedback on their businesses.

              2. Wow, I just can't disagree more. The Hazlenut Dacquoise is my favourite cake in Boston, and whenever I've brought it to a party or gathering, it receives nothing but unmitigated praise followed by people asking where I got it (I guess it's clear I didn't bake it myself!)

                Obviously something was wrong that day customer service wise, but I've had nothing but good experiences from the Flour Bakery staff. In my most recent experience at Fort Point the staff kept a long lunch-time line moving pretty quickly, while also taking the time to chat with customers and solicit feedback. It's not McDonald's, but seemed just fine to me.

                18 Replies
                1. re: lipoff

                  A proper Dacquoise should have 2-3X as much of the actual hazlenut cake and 30% of the cream. The cream should also be fluffier, not a totally leaden, air-free butter cream. It should be whipped a bit. The whole thing should just melt/dissolve in your mouth; not slide down like a wad of fat.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    i have to agree that the last time I had Flour's Dacquoise, it *was* like a stick of butter. part of that may have to do with the temperature that it is eaten at. it didn't used to be so dense. would like to find a lighter version if there's one out there.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      One further clarification the cake should have several layers of hazelnut cake interspersed with the creme. In this case there was just one wafer thin layer.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        BTW, do you have a photo of this?
                        Is it the chocolate boob?

                        1. re: Spike

                          Since dacquoise is such a specific science of composition, texture and etherealness.....wouldn't one think it more than likely it does not "keep" real well and probably has to have some stabilizer-esque ingredient in order to
                          maintain it for a day in a bakery chiller cabinet ? I don't think Joanne Chang puts
                          herself out there as an expert French patisserie. Just a really good cafe with
                          some really fine choices and a few exceptional standouts from her lineup out of those many choices. I give her kuddos for trying to offer some different items; i.e. Oreos, Poptarts, Sugared Brioche, and ....the Dacquoise. I think its a good product, but we do have to keep in mind, we are not in Paris. Just like I would not expect to get an earth-shattering rendition of a lobstah roll or N.E. Clam Chowdah
                          over in France. I'm thinking we need a Striper Guy Cafe. With all your knowledge,
                          I'ld love to try the real MacCoy. You could become a very rich man with a
                          perfect dacquoise in pilgrim land. Oh yeah, did you ever have apple pie in France....sacrenbleau !

                          1. re: Buddernut

                            As part of a much longer other thread, most folks generally think a real patisserie just wouldn't make it in Beantown. The same thread is why I went into so much detail. Heck you don't have to even call it a dacquoise, call it cake, it was still WAY to rich to eat and cloyingly butter laden. I couldn't eat the whole thing and I LOVE sweets.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Striper, I'm always impressed by your passion for and knowledge of pastries, and I won't even presume to argue with you about what an authentic dacquoise should be like.

                              But I do know that the hazelnut-almond dacquoise at Flour is my favourite cake in the city, and what I look forward to most from a visit to Flour. I'm not a fan of overly sweet or heavy desserts, and I find their dacquoise to be neither of those. It's just delicious.

                              I've been to both the South End and Fort Point locations a number of times. Not every week, but at least once a month. I've never seen any serious service issues --- I've always found the staff friendly and helpful. Maybe I don't hit it often enough at peak times, or maybe they are inconsistent, but I only know what I experience.

                              One time I tried to order a cake and couldn't get through on the phone even after trying many times. When I finally did get through the staffer couldn't have been any more apologetic. It was after the pastry chef had gone home for the day and she couldn't confirm that the cake could be ready the next day, but I was given a call in the late evening directly from the chef to confirm that my cake order for the next day would be no problem. Whenever I've ordered a cake from them it's ready on time, the writing is correct, its well packaged and universally well received by those who eat it. What more can I ask for?

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  i once ordered a cake from them, went to pick it up and they had no record of my order. i had to get individual slices instead of a whole cake, which was frustrating since it was for a special occasion. nowadays if i order a cake, i try to get the name of the person who took my order.

                                2. re: lipoff

                                  Given how consistent the reports of horrible lines are, you must be going during wayyyyy off hours, or you're insanely lucky and you should play the lottery ;-)
                                  I can tell you that weekends are pretty much horrible...

                                  1. re: lipoff

                                    It seems that this wonderful pastry (call it what you may) has disappeared from the cases - a sad day for the rest of us who truly enjoyed it.

                                    I do not think that my taste (and those of others who have obviously liked this particular cake) - is being judged here. But such conflicting passions, i feel, should not result in the removal of things that some of us actually like. The fact that a baker even attempts a difficult item such as this should be applauded. But alas - another one bites the dust (the first - as far as I know - was Boyajian's).

                                    1. re: cornFusion

                                      what makes you say this? Have you asked the employees? Just because you don't see it in the case when you come in doesn't mean it's gone for good. It's still listed on their website, and I've still seen it on weekends (I come in relatively early). Maybe you've just been getting there too late.

                                      1. re: cornFusion

                                        No particular comment on the actual point of your post, but: dacquoise ain't hard, and I think you might enjoy making it!

                                      2. re: lipoff

                                        lipoff - I for one fully agree with you. There may be specific ways to make a genuine dacquoise but this one however mis-named is a good pastry and I am one of those who love it. I personally find it hard to understand the critiques coming from our esteemed colleagues - because these are the same ones who favor Chinese-sushi (another thread) over authentic Japanese sushi. Perhaps their knowledge of French cuisine makes them better judges of "french style" pastries - and thus the critiques - even though the chef is Chinese.

                                    2. re: Buddernut

                                      budder, just fyi, a dacquoise is actually a very simple, but specific of course, thing.
                                      2 or more layers of nut based meringue(egg whites, sugar, nuts) sandwiched with a buttercream (sugar, egg yolks or egg whites, butter, flavoring).the meringues should be chewy, not dry. it actually lasts a very long time in the frig and freezes quite well. just fyi.

                                      there is no reason that great pastry cannot be made in the u.s.One can find many many great International food experiences in the U.S. It is just so sad that good bakeries are so rare in our country.

                                      and, in the spirit of spreading the fun expressions, it is McCoy and sacre bleu.

                                    3. re: Spike

                                      the chocolate "boob" (aka chocolate bombe or dome) is usually filled with chocolate mousse, right? with a thin layer of cake and possibly marmalade at the bottom. The dacquoise is more layered with flourless hazelnut/meringue layer(s).

                                      1. re: barleywino

                                        thx...just wanted to make sure striperguy wasn't talking about the chocolate boob. That's my favorite dessert there, if I can deal w/ the crazy lines and I had a hard time believing it was a butter bomb :-)

                                3. re: lipoff

                                  I disagree that "something was wrong that day", I live a half block from Flour and used to be a daily customer. The service there really is a problem. I've experienced all of the problems mentioned in this thread -- too many people behind the counter falling all over themselves or seeming to not understand how to move things along,being skipped as they took orders, things are missed often or they immediately fill the order as if it were to go instead of for in the cafe. It got to be so bad that I just quit going there. There are some times where the place is often empty (like around 10:30 am on weekdays) but I've still given up on them even though I like some of their pastries. You shouldn't have to wait in a line that snakes through the cafe. There are times when it's difficult to walk through the space. I went to the Fort Point store and thought it was run much better.

                                  I also think the the Dacquoise too heavy on the cream. I've only had it once because I thought it was too much.

                                4. I went to Flour once, shortly after they opened in Fort Point and experienced the exact same thing. I chalked it up to the location being new, but haven't been back (I don't live or work in the area). I can't believe they haven't corrected this problem, AND that their regular clientele put up with this.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                    I work a few blocks away and occasionally will go for a late lunch as the line during lunch is still as slow as a cold mousse...
                                    I haven't had any of their baked goods, but their lunch sandwiches have much to be desired at the price point.

                                    1. re: Nechushtan

                                      Just wanted to add that not only have they raised their sandwich prices by .50 and their pastry prices by about .20-.25 in the last couple of weeks, they recently erected a friendly sign by the sandwich counter that says you should expect to wait AT LEAST 10 minutes for a sandwich after you pay. I mean, even if that's true, how do you decide the best option for all the complaints you presumably get from customers about how long it's taking to get their lunch is to inform them they'll need to wait 10 minutes AFTER waiting in line to order and pay for probably at least 10 more minutes? I mean, it's baffling really. Thank goodness I'm a regular and have special privileges that's all I can say... : )

                                      I'd love to see Harvard Business School do a case study on how they can be so successful while failing so miserably in one key area of customer service.

                                      1. re: misscucina

                                        Flour has a good product, but, I think the locations have a lot to do with their success. Lack of competition probably helps them in Fort Point, too. There's little else around either location that offers the the range of items they do. In the South End there's the Buttery but the pastry selection is not as broad and they often have the same problem with lines. I cant think of anything in Fort Point or the nearby Financial District that offers anything similar. Maybe in Southie, but I don't know that area well.

                                        1. re: misscucina

                                          That's rich. Joanne Chang has an MBA from HBS. I guess she got a III on her mandatory first year operations management class.

                                          1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                            Joanne Chang graduated from Harvard College with an undergraduate degree in Applied Math in 1991, but she doesn't have an MBA from HBS!

                                            1. re: lipoff

                                              You're right. Its the co-founder from Finale who has an HBS MBA. Better run place, but doesn't get any love here. Too corporate.

                                    2. I go to Flour at least twice a week (Saturdays + Sundays for lunch, and sometimes, I'll go more often). I've been going for over 5 years. I almost never wait in line or to pick up my food...because...I call and order ahead, pay over the phone, and go straight to the pickup counter when I get there. Often, I'll take the food home and eat it there. Sometimes, I'll eat at Flour if it's not packed. This is my strategy for both the South End and FP Flours (haven't been to F3 yet), and it hasn't let me down. So for all the people who don't have the patience to wait in line or show up and not get their precious sticky buns, I'm going to say that's your own fault for putting yourself through that.

                                      As for the food...
                                      The sandwiches are objectively very good, but I personally can't eat like that every day. I generally have no problem getting the same thing every time from a fave restaurant or even lunch spot, but I can't do that at Flour - it's like it's too rich or something, I get burned out by their sandwiches pretty quickly and need to constantly order something different. But that might just be me. My husband has gotten the same sandwich every weekend for years and is still going strong.
                                      The bread is awesome, though there are obviously other great bakeries to get bread around Boston. Due to the convenience, I tend to get bread/rolls at Flour, and I'll often bring some to family functions and everyone raves about it.
                                      Cookies, scones, and other such treats...IMO, they vary by item. I *have* tried the sticky buns and they are, in fact, awesome. Some of the scones, I can eat every day (but don't). We gave the cookies away as favors at our wedding. Their apple spice cake is amazingly moist and delish. Everything else I've tried is just ok.
                                      Cakes, tarts, etc...The carrot cake is my favorite in Boston - I love my cream cheese frosting and hate coconut, so Flour's version is ideal for me, but YTMV. I've had the berry bread pudding many times, and while some days it hits the craving, I've had [objectively] better bread puddings in other places. The triple chocolate mousse dome (aka the boob) is my husband's favorite dessert there, and I've gotten a cake version of it (which was actually flat) for a graduation party and it went over very well there. The tarts are buttery and yummy but the fillings are not super-memorable except the gooey nut tart...I often grab a mini tartlet as a snack.
                                      And finally, the topic at hand - the dacquoise: I've had it many times, though not recently. I have found that it goes down much better if you A. eat it at [closer to] room temperature and B. share with others. In those cases, a spoonful will feel like a little bite of heaven. Unfortunately, attempting to eat an entire slice right out of the case/fridge will lead to the just-ate-a-stick-of-butter feeling, which is what happened the last time I got it about a year ago and has made me not crave it since.

                                      I think that's all I have to say about Flour (for now).
                                      PS. yay - 1st post!

                                      25 Replies
                                      1. re: yanz

                                        Great first post yanz! Thanks.

                                        1. re: yanz

                                          Nice one Yanz!

                                          I think in your first CH post you have given us THE definitive writeup of Flour.

                                          Welcome to our food obsessed world.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            thanks, guys! I feel welcome already :)

                                            I can't believe I've been in Boston for 15 years and have never read CH extensively before. And I've done my fair share of food research...

                                            1. re: yanz

                                              If you are looking for out of the way, interesting, and ethnic places, here is a thread that I recently started that ought to keep you busy/full for a while:

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/718470

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                Already found it, thanks (along with your pastry lists, which is how I first ended up on CH).

                                          2. re: yanz

                                            Welcome to Chowhound and with such a great post! =)

                                            1. re: yanz

                                              "I'm going to say that's your own fault for putting yourself through that."

                                              Part of the experience of going to a cafe is staying there and enjoying the food. It shouldn't be my job to work around poor management processes. The food is good but it's not THAT that good.

                                              1. re: josev

                                                And I've done that many times at Flour. You don't have to sacrifice one for the other. You can call in and pre-order/pre-pay, get there and find a seat as you pick up your food (without having to wait to order or to get the food, and, FYI, I've never had to wait more than a few mins for a seat), and then hang out and enjoy the cafe experience for as long as you want. Often, if I'm hanging out there, it's for long enough that the line eventually diminishes and I can go pick up some pastries for dessert after eating my meal.

                                                I'm not arguing that they don't have poor management processes. For instance, the Starbucks I go to routinely has a line as long as Flour's, and yet they're able to get people's drink orders while they're in line so that the drinks are made by the time they've paid and the whole thing takes well under 5-10 mins. So I agree that Flour can definitely make some easy fixes to become more efficient. What I'm arguing here is that there's a way to avoid the bad and just get the good, and if more customers did it my way, life could be less frustrating for everyone.

                                                1. re: yanz

                                                  Actually, I disagree Yanz. It's not "my fault" for expecting that a bakery would desire to serve their customers as efficiently as possible, if for no other reason than they make more money by putting more bodies through the door. So when you see a company react to major complaints from their customers with signs that say in effect "customers need to be more tolerant of the delay in getting you your food," I don't think that's reasonable. It also speaks to a certain level of arrogance toward the customer, but I won't belabor that. Places like Mike's Pastry in the North End, while not the quality of Flour, certainly know how to move people through their store. Same with Al State St. subs -- yes, it's a zoo, but they realize people will not put up with waiting 10-20 minutes at lunch time for a sandwich.

                                                  Also, if you encourage everyone to call in their orders, then the phone doesn't save you any time because it's the same workers answering the phone (not serving people in line) and assembling the orders out of the same kitchen.

                                                  -----
                                                  Mike's Pastry
                                                  300 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                                                  1. re: misscucina

                                                    Funny, as I'm reading this, I'm thinking of Umberto's, where I have routinely waited more than 30 minutes for their food. Every time I'm in that miserable line, I think about how I'd love to get a logistics expert in there to help them move the food faster. Still, for their slices and arancini, I don't mind the wait. I don't think it's necessarily arrogance, just lack of organization. Or maybe there really is no way to get the stuff out faster. Maybe someone can do a food network show on this phenomena, and have Gordon Ramsey or someone help "fix" things.

                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                      At Umberto, given the fresh, hot, right out of the oven phenomena somehow I am more forgiving. Though I bet a logistics expert COULD improve things.

                                                      Flour just feels like a mess.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        Umberto's could probably put another guy at the counter.They'd have to pay him and it would be more crowded for John and Ralph. Their mother used to sit in the corner and count/make change..:)

                                                        BTW, for histoy buffs, this is the "new" Umberto's. In the late 70s they moved from a storefront next to Sulmona..tiny shop, down a few steps.

                                                        Don't know if this is a factor here but a lot of older NE biz's own the buildings for years and don't have to worry about high rents..or maximizing profits.

                                                        I know of 1 older place that rents their roof space to blue chip cos billboards and take in 6 figures/year before they sell a bowl of spaghetti.

                                                        1. re: 9lives

                                                          I used to by bread and pizza at the old local which was open until the early 90s.

                                                          1. re: 9lives

                                                            The last few times I went before the July closure, they did have a younger guy helping beghind the counter. He looked a bit lost at the speed of things however, and the very last time I went he wasn't there. Not sure if he was off, or if that experiment failed. I remember the "old" Umberto's, though I've always gone to the Hanover St location. There was a short time both were open, though the "old" location by then served only bread and pizza. It was quicker when mama used wrap boxes and make change, but I love the place no matter how crazy the line is.

                                                        2. re: nsenada

                                                          Umberto's has the two lines. In the past people used to show up and if the eat-in line was too long, they would call in and pick-up to eat in. This will get you royally yelled at (I haven't done it, but have seen it). However, if you are enough of a regular in the neighborhood and encounter a huge line, you stick your head in another establishment and ask their staff if they want something at Umberto's. That essentially gives you carte blanche to then take-in food that that other establishment -- I have even had one establishment plate my Umberto's food for me. I can't imagine anyone doing that in the South End these days, but maybe in Southie!

                                                        3. re: misscucina

                                                          Who said anything was your fault? yanz is just offering a nice workaround for a place that can't quite get the service that right. If I ever do go there again you can be sure I for one will call in my order.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            Umm, Yanz did: "So for all the people who don't have the patience to wait in line or show up and not get their precious sticky buns, I'm going to say that's your own fault for putting yourself through that."

                                                          2. re: misscucina

                                                            MIkes, which I personally don't care for, DEFINITELY is able to wait on the hordes of tourists relatively well. Modern, which I love but bypass regularly because I don't have 30 minutes to wait in line, doesn't seem to care.

                                                            .Al's which is fantastic IMO, moves their lines by employing dozens of people behind the counter--they're bumping into each other and running each other over to help the customers. That kind of service gets noted by the customers, who know that their line snaking out the door *is* going to move quickly.

                                                            A little queueing theory goes a long way, if the owners of these establishments care to learn.

                                                            1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                              I think the prob at Modern is that it is just so small, the counter is tiny. I agree that they are not great handling the flow, but there are just so many people you can fit behind that counter. Even under the best management it would be hard to make that line move much faster.

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                yes, but remember when they remodeled a few years ago? They had a golden opportunity to do something about the counter space and how they could effectively serve customers more quickly. The fact that they (apparently) didn't address this properly sends a message that it wasn't one of their priorities.

                                                                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                  Honestly, the entire storefront is so small that I think give the competing needs for the space, counter, display, refrigeration, a few tables for clients on slower days... that there is no real way they could have improved.

                                                                  What they need is MORE space which probably was not an option.

                                                              2. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                People (myself included) have no problem with Umberto's lines - the quality of the food is worth the wait. On those rare occasions when I happen to hit it with no line, I do savor the experience, however. Clearly they have no concern about moving enough of the goods to stay profitable, so there's no real incentive to them to change how they do things.

                                                        4. re: yanz

                                                          excellent point yanz about serving temperature for dacquoise. i make one myself every so often for special occasions (savuer recipe) and serving temperature is absolutely key to getting the taste/texture/richness factor just right. i've had the dacquoise from flour and enjoyed it, althought the chocolate ganache to nut meringue ratio titls a little heavily to chocolate for my taste. if i remeber correctly, each time i've had the dacquoise at flour, it has been as a shared dessert after letting it warm up a bit while we had a sandwich or something else first.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            Thanks for keeping the discussion on track - and reading the title of this post!