All of the Above Bakery & Café might be tucked away in the northeast corner of the Tower Plaza shopping center, but it's definitely worth the extra effort to find it. Because when you walk in, you're in for a few wonderful surprises.
As the door closes behind you, effectively shutting out the noise from busy Ynez Road, it's as if you're entering a cozy, welcoming home. According to co-owners Lorilyn and Ken Teasdale, it was never actually a residence, but to me it feels just like a converted older house. "Everything in here is adapted, reused or recycled," says Ken. The counter base was once an old door and the counter's mosaic tiles hide an old Formica table-top. Even the fun blue molding on the walls was originally refrigerator siding from Ikea. The result is décor that's both eclectic and charming. Customers coming for a quick purchase find themselves drawn in by the relaxed ambience and usually decide to linger for a while.
The next fun surprise comes from the baked goods display case. Not because it's filled with the decadent-looking treats that one would, of course, expect to see in a bakery. The surprise comes from the prominent labels next to each delicacy listing which food allergens have been omitted. Everything they make is gluten-free and peanut-free but it doesn't stop there. Looking for vegan, soy-free, yeast-free, chocolate cupcakes? Check. How about a vegan, sugar-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, soy protein-free, nut-free upside-down pineapple cake? Yep. And there are low allergen muffins, sticky buns, cookies, Bundt cakes, and more.
Which begs the question... with allergens out (what some of us might call the "good stuff") how do these treats taste? And that's the biggest surprise of all about All of the Above, because it's all delicious. I tried a couple of their vegan, gluten-free Sergeant Peppermint Cookies. They were really good and tasted just like Girl Scout Thin Mints. So, I went ahead and sampled a gluten-free, dairy-free cranberry-orange cookie. It was as moist and tasty as any other cookie I've ever had.
Making food that appeals to everyone is the whole point, says Lorilyn. "So many people
who don't have food allergies go out to a restaurant and say we can eat pizza and whatever but here you (the person with allergies) can have that - which might be something which wouldn't taste very good. We wanted to change all that."
Their interest in making delicious allergen- free foods started 14 years ago when they put their autistic son on a gluten-free, casein-free diet. At first Ken was skeptical that a diet could really help, but then something dramatic happened to change his mind. About five months into the diet their son's behavior suddenly changed for the worse and he started running away from home. "We live in wine country," says Ken. "So having him out like that was not safe - and scary for everyone. There even started to be talk of institutionalizing him. But then we decided to have a look around his room and we discovered a box of half-eaten (regular) cookies hidden under his bed. We immediately put him back on the diet and he stopped running away. I was a believer after that."
Their younger son isn't autistic but has food sensitivities so he was put on the diet too. "He's now a straight-A student in high school and doing really well," says Lorilyn. "We're all on the diet. I lost twenty pounds after going gluten-free."
Now the whole family also takes part in running All of the Above. Lorilyn and Ken both bake, their sons sometimes help out after school, and their daughter Caitlin specializes in making the café's amazing cookies. Caitlin is also the resident artist (some of her art is displayed on the café's walls) and barista.
Yes, All of the Above serves delicious coffee drinks. But just like with their baked goods, there are low allergen alternatives. You can order a latte with organic cow's milk or you can substitute in almond, rice, or coconut milk. They also have specialty coffee drinks that are just as good as the ones you'd find anywhere else. Caitlin whipped up their Mexican Mocha for me, made from espresso, almond milk, Mexican chocolate and French vanilla coconut creamer. I have to admit I'm normally more of a cow's milk person so I wondered if I would actually like it. I needn't have worried. It was absolutely fantastic and I'm going to order one next time I visit.
I also tried their Caramel Chai made from organic black and green Chai teas, caramel flavoring, and almond milk. It had a very enjoyable delicate sweet spiciness and I've now decided that I like almond milk...a lot.
If you're looking for something that's more of a meal, they also have mouth-watering lunch items such as stuffed chicken salad popovers, dog bites (from mini organic hot dogs), and various salads. Lorilyn brought over a bowl of gluten-free, casein-free, egg-free Squash Soup for me to try. It was easily the thickest, freshest and most enjoyable squash soup I've ever tasted.
They're also getting to be known in the community for their loaves of gluten-free sandwich bread and take & bake pizza crusts. These go quickly though, so Lorilyn suggests people call ahead to make sure they're available.
They take special orders too. Just tell Lorilyn which allergens you need to avoid and she'll work it out for you. In fact, the day we met she was gearing up to make ten dozen gluten- free white chocolate cupcakes for a wedding. Even though the bride will be the only one allergic to gluten, she felt that the cupcakes were good enough to serve to all her guests.
So if you haven't already, give this bakery/cafe a try and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Whether or not you have food sensitivities, you're gonna love All of the Above.
All of the Above Incorporated Bakery & Café, (in the Allstate building), 27423 Ynez Road, Temecula, CA 92591. 951-693-4000. They're open Wednesdays - Mondays, closed on Tuesdays.
Taste of Temecula is an online social magazine created for the purpose of promoting everything to do with "Eating, drinking, and being merry" in the Temecula Valley. It was created by and is maintained by locals who are passionate about the many forms of entertainment this area has to offer. Taste of Temecula is unique because of its contributors who include chefs, winemakers, business owners, photographers and writers.