Great Buns Bakery
Sour Cream Cake Samples
Black & White Cookie
Mini Apple Strudel
Opened in 1982 and baking fresh bread on East Tropicana for more than ten hours a day from Monday through Saturday since 1988 it was finally on Saturday morning that I made my way to Great Buns Bakery and although often exalted by locals as some of the Valley’s best bread my experience unfortunately proved average at best, the high-scale production and bargain basement prices harkening ingredients and methods no more impressive than that of the average corner store. Owned and operated by “4th generation bakers” per the in-store propaganda and prominently displaying its New York-Italian roots in several of its offerings it was to a quarter-full store that I arrived just moments shy of 9:30 and with elderly servers otherwise occupied I took my time to peruse, the largely automated operation whirring in the background as several younger staff members took turns restocking shelves. Treated to samples of crumbly sour-cream cake on the backside of the counter as I wandered past a pair of chillers it was only after ten minutes that I finally crafted my order and although neither the red velvet cupcakes nor cornbread I’d desired were yet ready a half-dozen items tallying $7.26 were soon boxed and ready to go, my first taste of a still-warm pretzel roll enjoyed as I exited the shop originally giving me hope of things to come but eventually proving to be the only standout of the bunch. Clearly not expecting the quality of Bouchon or Bonjour given the obvious discrepancy in price and production it was after a short drive and with coffee in hand that my sampling continued and starting small with an entremet of apple strudel the taste simply fell flat, a dry puff pastry with artificial tasting filling that carried right over a slightly superior tart again compromised by a core I’m rather certain was Smucker’s supplied. At this point with expectations decidedly dwindling it was into a soft almond croissant that teeth tore and discarding more than half of the doughy debacle before tasting a fairly forgettable black & white cookie I thankfully found some solace in the sticky pecan bun with ample notes of butter beneath a lacquer of cinnamon-sugar drizzled nuts.
TWO STARS: Perhaps a better choice for dinner rolls and bulk items intended for large groups I personally cannot think of a reason I’d recommend Great Buns aside from the low prices. Always happy to support a locally owned business there are simply better versions of everything offered at Great Buns that can be found elsewhere – the Pretzels and Strudel at German Bread, the Black & White and Pecan Bun at Bagel Café, and no less than a dozen almond croissants and tarts instantly come to mind.
RECOMMENDED: Pretzel Rolls, at $0.70, are a bargain – likewise the $2.49 Jumbo Pecan Bun.
AVOID: Almond Croissant, anything with fruit or jam.
TIP: With low prices frequently begetting low quality the one saving grace of Great Buns may be their volume – an online ordering service seemingly quite suitable for custom orders and catering to large crowds.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor