When It Comes to Cinnamon Buns, Does Size Matter? – Cambie Bakery & Café Cinnamon Rolls vs. McDonald’s Cinnamon Melts.

By Tana Kosiyabong


At first, I hadn’t planned on writing this week Cheap Appetite mission as another comparison review. It was supposed to be a review of Cambie Bakery & Café cinnamon rolls and their turkey club sandwich. But the idea came to me earlier today when I was on the way to get a day-old cinnamon roll and a cup coffee from Cambie Bakery & Café. Yes, you read me right. My name is Tana. I’m a day-old cinnamon roll junkie. And I’m very proud of it.

Cambie Bakery & Café is located in a historic Gastown building as part of the Cambie Hostel, and the more famous Cambie Pub. My most favorite space of the three is the bakery and café. If you sit on one of the high bar window seats, you can enjoy a good view of the Victory Square while drinking coffee, given that there’s no stupid truck blocking your view.

Since it caters to the hostel customers, the food prices are pretty reasonable. Their fresh cinnamon buns, however, are priced at $2.40, a bit steep for my cheap appetite. But they are worth every penny. The day-old cinnamon rolls are priced at 85 cents. It’s one of the best bargains in town. And if you’re a student, you’ll get another 10% off on most purchases with your valid ID.


Cambie Bakery & Cafe offers two kinds of cinnamon rolls — apple cranberry (top photo on the right), and walnuts (above photo). I personally prefer the sweet and tart flavors of the apple cranberry. The cinnamon plays a small supporting role, which I really like. Call me crazy, but I’m not a big fan of overly sweet and overly spiced desserts. I don’t understand the need to add cinnamon in desserts like there’s no tomorrow. And, if the café gets rid of the solid icing chunks on their cinnamon rolls, I would give them the full five cheapos. But, perhaps, I’ll be the only one who buys them.

The day-old cinnamon rolls are slightly drier and harder than the fresh ones, but just as tasty. I put mine in a covered container and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Voila, a fresh baked cinnamon roll all over again. Just remember to eat it while it’s still hot, unless you prefer to chip a tooth on a cinnamon rock. The freshly microwaved, day-old cinnamon roll smells very much like butterscotch.

Cambie Bakery & Café serves fresh brewed coffee from the Level Ground Trading, a direct fair trade coffee company in Victoria, BC. I served myself a small cup of Peruvian medium roasted Café Pangoa ($1.55). The taste was decent but the story behind the coffee is really inspiring.


On the other hand, there’s no need to introduce McDonald’s. It would be like introducing fish to water. But we definitely need to talk about their cinnamon melts. Once my coworkers knew that I was going to write about cinnamon rolls this week, McDonald’s Cinnamon Melts came up. I didn’t think much of it at the moment, but somehow it stuck in my head. So, when the idea came to me later, I went for it. I was going to McDonald’s anyway to use my buy-one-get-one-free breakfast coupon.

Once I was there, a panhandler approached me and asked if I would buy him breakfast. “C’mon, man. Do you want me to cry right here?” he bluffed. I burst out laughing. “OK fine, I’ll buy you a McMuffin. Would you like egg, sausage or bacon?” I asked. “Bacon,” he replied with a gleam of happiness glistening in his eyes.

When I handed him the Bacon McMuffin a few minutes later, he gratefully shook my hand and walked away. Perhaps he should thank McDonald’s instead; after all I got that McMuffin for free. But, somehow, this makes me feel really good inside. I wouldn’t have thought that a panhandler could make my day.

Of course, I didn’t forget to order the cinnamon melts ($1.99). They looked really good at first glance. In fact, they looked yummier than the Cambie one. The icing had melted all over. Thanks to their clever design, I easily pulled the buns apart into bite-size pieces. The taste was, however, so typical mainstream American desserts. They were overly sweet and overly cinnamoned. To be fair, McDonald’s caters to mainstream American and Canadian alike. So, they hit the nail on the head with their Cinnamon Melts. But for me, I didn’t like them much.


The size of the Cinnamon Melts was only about 3/4 of the Cambie ones. After solving several long, arduous mathematic equations, the result becomes clear. It would cost $2.50 for cinnamon melts the same size as the Cambie ones. That’s may be only 10 cents more than the Cambie’s fresh rolls, but $1.65 more than the day-old ones.

When it comes to cinnamon buns, size does matter to a certain extent. But taste is much more important. That’s why I prefer Cambie Bakery & Café fresh cinnamon rolls to McDonald’s Cinnamon Melts. And if it’s a lot cheaper, then it’s a keeper. The day-old wins.



NOTE 1: I didn’t order McDonald’s coffee to compare with coffee from Cambie Bakery & Café. Just the sugar overload from the two cinnamon buns and a shot of caffeine were enough to make me jittery for the rest of the day. One more caffeine shot, I would have run around my living room all day.

NOTE 2: Since I had previously tasted the turkey club sandwich at Cambie Bakery & Café for this review, I might as well give you a quick review. For $4.75, you can get a huge turkey club sandwich here. And they come with a few oversized slabs of real roasted turkey meat, lettuce and tomatoes. It would easily cost twice as much in upscale chain restaurants. The taste was decent although the whole wheat bread was a bit hard and dry. All other sandwiches are also priced at $4.75. There are several other menu items under $5 including beef, chicken or turkey pot pies, large chili or soup, and selected salads.




– Twisted Poets Literary Salon, every first Thursday of the month, 7-9 pm

– Meet the Clowns, every second Friday of the month, 7-9 pm

Cambie Bakery & Café is located at 312 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (T) 604.688.9925

Regular Hours: Weekdays 7 am-6 pm (breakfast to 11 am), Weekends 8am-6pm (breakfast to 3 pm)

©2009 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.

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22 thoughts on “When It Comes to Cinnamon Buns, Does Size Matter? – Cambie Bakery & Café Cinnamon Rolls vs. McDonald’s Cinnamon Melts.

    1. Penny, it’s a nice little place. I like the decorating and its old charm. I never actually have a breakfast there, but I saw a lot of people do. I like the interesting shape of the McD one more, but I guess the beauty (or in this case yumminess) is in the eyes of the beholders. Thanks for stopping by:)

    1. Ahhh sounds like most people like the cambie’s look more. I never made them myself, unless you count baking the pilsbury cinnamon rolls.

  1. i hvnt tried the cambie bakery’s, but i totally agree with you that M’s are WAT TOO SWEET! it reminded me of tim hortons’ blueberry dip thing (i forgot the name), it’s actually like a donut with a blueberry sauce pool inside. u can tear out a pic of donut and dip into sauce b4 u eat it. oh, it’s super good. i heard they hv strawberry dip too.
    u know what, sometimes if i really crave for sthg sweet, i dont really mind to hv a pc of M’s cinnamon bun. sometimes i just need the sweet to pump up my adrenaline! 😛

  2. Cambie’s bakery totally trumps McDonald’s any day, besides why have the artificial cinnabon from mickey d’s when you can have an authentic one from a real bakery! 🙂

    1. Sounds like everyone prefer the cambie one more. I don’t understand why my coworkers like the McD cinnamon melts either.

  3. Yowza. I don’t get to have cinnamon rolls very often, so to be honest, I’d be like Ringo — just happy to be there. But yes, given the choice, I’d still choose a bakery cinnamon roll over a place who also serves burgers to billions.

    1. They sell their minis at the Gastown Farmer market for $1.20. But I think it’s less than half of the big one. Also, the farmer market last weekend this year is this Sunday. I have never seen the mini ones at the bakery. Not sure if they will have it. I have to agree with you that it’s a lot of sugar. Sometimes I split in half. One for the morning, the rest for the evening. lol.

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