Sonoma: Brownie High And Low

Brownie Basics

Treating myself to lunch in Gatwick Airport and although I didn’t pick this restaurant on the basis of it having a brownie, when I looked at the dessert menu, I decided not to resist.

You may be able to tell that I had difficulty getting a good angle for this thing, but hey, it turned out sort of artistic

Brownie Backstory

There are just too many damn weddings for me this year. I’m saying this to anyone who will listen, and then whenever I say the actual number out loud (five or six), it doesn’t seem like so many, but it’s because of the amount of prep and effort required for each wedding rather than technically the quantity, and this is just convenient shorthand.

I had to fly to Australia for my brother’s. I flew to Crete for one friend’s (and remember how there were no brownies in Crete). I was invited to one in the middle of nowhere in Wales and am almost glad I couldn’t make that one. I had a cousin’s wedding in Oxford – not so inconvenient – but it was on the day that I’d already promised to attend the joint 30th birthday party of two of my friends, so there was a lot of jiggery pokery and faffing about and rushing around the country to make that happen. I was recently in Darlington for Northern Friend’s wedding, and now, finally, it’s the last wedding of the year and I’m flying to Budapest for it. I suppose, logically, I should refer to this as Hungarian Friend’s wedding, except that I’m friends with both the bride and the groom and only one of them is Hungarian.

Anyway, of course I’m flattered and honoured to be invited to celebrate these people’s special days (particularly since both Northern Friend and Hungarian Friend had roles for me in their ceremonies and their parties) and I can’t really complain about having excuses to go to all these exciting places for big parties: it’s just when you reach the point of realising all the holiday you’ve taken this year was directly or indirectly related to someone else’s wedding that it starts to feel tiring. Also, going to weddings for people you know well, who are your age, when you’re single AF, is a complicated emotion which I’m now very familiar with.

Anyhoo, flying out to Budapest! I’m in Gatwick (at least I was when I ate this brownie). I’ve flown from Gatwick a lot this year, but I guess I hadn’t spotted this place before? It claims to ‘bring a taste of California’, which makes sense as it’s named for a region of California. In practice, ‘a taste of California’ seems to mean ‘we serve all sorts, eat whatever you like’. I was tempted by the all-day fried English breakfast, but instead went for an actually pretty good pizza, and then of course I had to have the brownie. The menu suggested nothing particularly fancy or novel about it – it comes with dark chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream, like the vast majority of standard restaurant brownies – but let’s dig in and see what we’ve got.

Brownie Points

Taste: Not bad, but not particularly good – there wasn’t actually a huge amount of chocolate taste in the brownie, and the dark chocolate sauce, while nice, didn’t fully compensate. 6/10

Texture: A lot of these restaurant brownies can come across kind of like they sat in a fridge and then were haphazardly microwaved… probably because that’s what happens to a lot of them. That can leave the texture disappointing. This brownie escapes that fate, being actually quite pleasantly soft and moist in the middle. 7/10

Presentation: My questionable photo skills aside, it’s not the best looking brownie I’ve ever eaten but it was rather nicely presented on the plate: I reckon it deserves 4/5

Value: It’s a small brownie: not much bigger than a Caffè Nero job. It’s also not cheap: I paid £6.25 for this. It is in a restaurant, and it did come with some tasty icecream, but it’s not great value: overall I think it only deserves a 4/10

Fudge Factor: The staff in this place were very friendly and helpful, which always impresses me given the general busyness and rushed atmosphere of any airport restaurant, so hey. Have a point. 1/5

Final Call For Brownie: 22

Should I Buy And Eat This Brownie?

One’s brownie options in airports, or at least in Gatwick, seem to be sadly limited. I’d happily go back to Sonoma again for food when I’m next in Gatwick, and their brownie was a perfectly acceptable dessert, so overall why not?

Closing Thought

I’m going to cheat slightly. I’m actually writing this after I’ve come back from Budapest, and am slightly annoyed to report that contrary to my experiences of Milan and Crete, Budapest did have brownies and I didn’t get the chance to eat any. What a wasted opportunity. Maybe next time, because Budapest is one hell of a city and I would gladly return at any point.


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