Friday, Aug 30 2013 11:35 AM

PETE TITTL: Dessert for lunch? Why not

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    KT Miller, who is the business manager of Tastries, holds a plate of some of the items they make and sell in their business.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Nikki Salas, a decorator at Tastries, finishes decorating some cupcakes.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Tastries owner Cathy Miller announces the good news of a large order for the business.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Mary Johnson decorates a cake at Tastries.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Tastries owner Cathy Miller decorates a cake at the store on Rosedale Highway.

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BY PETE TITTL Contributing columnist pftittl @yahoo.com

We've got some lunch suggestions today, including one for the person who eats regular food only as a moral imperative before diving into dessert.

That would make Tastries the best choice for someone who's serious about their sweets. This tiny new shop, which bills itself as a "bakery-boutique-events" business, has few seats but is well-decorated in a feminine fashion. They've got a very efficient checklist system of ordering the sandwich, called a "sandwich builder," in which you choose from three breads, five spreads, four meats, five cheeses and a long list of veggies, including spinach and avocado. I ordered a turkey on eight-grain and while the bread was fresh, the turkey was the processed variety that some folks just can't stand.

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READER LUNCH SUGGESTIONS

Burger Shack

1300 California Ave.

395-3158

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

Prices: Appetizers, $1.79 to $3.99; salads, $2.49 to $5.49; combos, $4.99 to $6.99; burgers, $1.49 to $4.99; sandwiches, $1.49 to $4.99; tacos and burritos, $1.49 to $7.99; Child's plate, $3.99.

Payment: MasterCard, VISA, American Express and Discover accepted. Personal checks not accepted.

Dress: Casual

Amenities: Wheelchair accessible; no alcohol served; few vegetarian options.

Food: **1/2

Atmosphere: ***

Service: **1/2

Value: ***

Tastries

3665 Rosedale Highway

322-1110

tastriesbakery.com

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Prices: Sandwiches, $5.50; cookies, $1.50; cake, $3; cupcakes $2 to $3.50.

Payment: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover and personal checks accepted.

Dress: Casual

Amenities: Wheelchair accessible; no alcohol served; few vegetarian options.

Food: ***

Atmosphere: ***

Service: ***

Value: ***

No problem. I had already mentally shifted to the cookie, cupcake and cake that I ordered anyway. Not a good day for healthy food, but I had a job to do. There were so many cookies in so many shapes and flavors, at least a dozen. It's not Sugar Twist, but the pink lemonade cookie I had (with frosting on top) was on that level. The fudge cupcake ($2) had one of those two-color frosting twists that I've seen on the Food Network but never personally made myself.

The cake portion of the cupcake was OK, but absolutely not comparable to the amazing cherry almond sheet cake that I got a slice of.

Though it had a vanilla frosting, the cake really didn't need the extra flourish. It was one of those charming, moist, made-from-scratch cakes, so interesting with the dark brown crust on the bottom, and the tart, obviously genuine cherry flavor and the occasional slivered almond. You wish you could get something this good in a wedding cake, which are far too often dull sugar fixes and little more.

(Tastries does a lot of specialty cakes, including wedding, though I don't know what flavor options they offer.) I'd eat a lot more turkey sandwiches like that if I could get this cake with lunch.

Now for a more substantial lunch and maybe not ANY dessert (there are folks like that), try Burger Shack on California Avenue just east of Bakersfield High. The former Foster's Freeze building has been a number of different places that haven't lasted long, but there are several reasons why this place is worth mentioning. It's scrupulously clean and has been remodeled and updated. They have a varied menu, including a Philly cheesesteak ($4.99) and a pastrami sandwich ($4.99), both on French rolls. The meat on both appeared to have been heated on a grill before being put on the bun. My companion thought the pastrami had those of nitrate notes that reminded her of a hot dog. That was not a compliment.

The beef was a lot better on the cheesesteak, but I would've liked more onions and green peppers in with the cheese and beef. Jersey Mike's gets the mix just right, and gives a more bountiful helping (though, admittedly, at a greater cost).

They also make their own soft serve milk shake ($2.19) and I liked the pineapple version, though they didn't offer the malt option. Maybe you could consider that dessert.

On another visit I sampled the French burger ($3.49), which had two patties of average thickness side by side on a French roll.

For beef that was supposedly never frozen, it didn't have that startlingly fresh-and-juicy taste you can get from such beef.

The people at Burger Shack were very friendly on both visits, though, oddly, they don't bring your order to your table even though it looks like they have the staff. They just shout your number and put the tray on the counter. That didn't seem right.

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