March 26, 2021

Review: 41444 Heartlake City Organic Cafe

Join Mia and her friends as you munch your lunch or slurp a rainbow of flavors outside Heartlake City’s healthy café!

It is so great to see age and gender diversity in Heartlake City! New figures open up new possibilities for role play and I’m pleased to add these to our set of characters. 

The second thing I noticed was the fresh color palette—perfect for the subject matter of fruity drinks and freshly-grown foods. This yellow-orange color is one of my favs from LEGO and it looks great here with hot pink and lime green. It even inspired me to freshen up my backdrop color to match.

Looking at the box front, I can see that our guest characters are named Marcel and Ava. I get the impression they may be a grandfather and granddaughter. They join Mia outside a one-story open-backed eatery. Mia has a pedal-powered vending cart from which she can make fresh juice drinks and she’s holding one out to them. They appear to be in a hedged outdoor location such as Heartlake City Park.

 
The box back gives us plenty of photos showing play possibilities and details of the café interior. At lower left, some realistic computer art depicts Marcel with Mia bending her arms in a way that’s impossible for the actual figure.

Opening the box, we have two instruction books. A smaller one goes with bag 1 and includes a scan code to digital instructions.


Stickers will be applied for store signage and a bit of decoration for the window-fronts and furniture.

 
Assembly starts with putting Mia together. This version of her is not new. But Ava in this set, and Liz in Andrea's Family House, are our first child-sized “micro-dolls” for Friends — other than the elves found in 2020’s Advent calendar. First introduced in Disney sets last year, micro-dolls are about half the height of a standard mini-doll. They lack articulation in their limbs, but their heads can turn and be interchanged with others in your collection. Their hands have holes which can receive a pin, such as you’d find on a decorative bow element. Unfortunately, this set doesn’t contain anything that can plug into Ava’s hands. Her hard plastic hairpiece also has a hole ready for an accessory. Her green eyes, freckles, and reddish hair make me think Ava could be related to Mia.

The nifty 3x3 round tiles in this set will receive checkered tablecloth stickers. If you’re picky about alignment of the pattern on these, or any round elements, you might want to secure each tile to a studded field temporarily. This helps to see orientation relative to the grid. But the alignment won't matter for this particular build.

After completing the seating and a sign, Mia hefts a rather large juicer together. I was surprised to see the pale yellow, yellow-green, and light aqua parts in this set. Nice to have those!


A few different drinks get assembled and look ready to serve with clear lids with straws. Seeing these clear angled rod elements, I could not help but play with them a little. These are really fun for posing characters in action. “Don’t trip, Mia!”

As I combine the half-bike with the rest of her cart, I wonder if that white element (with its seat, handlebars, and rear wheel connection point) might be useful for designing a custom Peloton-like exercise bike.

The front pair of green wheels are new and immediately caught my eye. They are also available in a City skate park set, on a minifigure’s sporty wheelchair. I love how fresh and citrusy they look. I do wish the rear wheel of Mia’s cycle matched.

Mia dons her helmet and is ready to roll! This portion of the build is like a mini-set and provides a nice stopping point to play with the characters. It looks like Mia can blend drinks containing carrot and cucumber as well as berries and other fruits. Yum! “I’ll take… an apple carrot smoothie, please! With a shot of ginger. ... Hold the kale.”



A second, larger instruction booklet covers building with bags 2, 3, and 4. We will also make use of a few loose decorated white arch elements. The back cover of the instruction book promotes LEGO Life by showing off some builders’ uploads. How exciting for these lucky people to have their work featured! 

This seems like a good time to point out notable parts. Here’s what’s special for this set:




Marcel looks dapper in his argyle sweater-vest and bow tie. I wonder if he knows Dottie (from 41349 Drifting Diner) or Mrs. Claus (from the 2020 advent calendar). Looking at this new head-topper piece: I think it’s wonderful to have, even if that seam across his forehead feels a little creepy to me. The element was first released for the Harry Potter Knight Bus in 2019.

Piling up blocks, the building begins to take shape. These curved clear windows are nice.

Below, Mia’s getting a head start on some baking! She loads her first loaf of bread into the just-installed oven.
And here's a nifty technique for assembling a small awning. Having studs not on top (SNOT) opens so many possibilities.

 
Completing bag 2, we now have a solid, if bare-bones, building. Lots of potential here!



Opening bag 3, Mia gets some basic signage in place. I love all that sunny yellow-orange! 

Then a hot drink machine and payment station come together. The slope brick with printed keypad is new this year and shows up in a few sets.


Can we take a moment now to talk about sandwich diversity? How cool is it that LEGO provided us with this many bread options? I bet there’s even a gluten-free choice! I’m not sure where your culinary imagination will take you, but I’m seeing: a BLT on an everything bagel, a rye panini with melted cheddar, a whole wheat hero, and a salami sub. Yum! I’m tempted to pile everything up into a super-tall dare-you-to-eat-it-all meal. This plethora of carb-filled goodness was even featured on the box’s bottom-face—and rightly so.

Mia stocks the sandwich case now, visible through the shop window.

The kitchen gets some tools, some stacks of ingredients, and a condiment dispenser. That loaf of bread in the oven must be smelling good now! Soon Mia can slice it up with her giant cleaver. I do appreciate that the set provides both a light (precooked?) version and a darker (cooked?) loaf, so you can pretend-bake by putting in one and taking out the other. Magic!

You can see we've added an indoor seating area for a solo patron. This finishes up bag 3. Honestly, this could have been enough for a complete set. “But wait! There’s more…”


Opening up bag 4, we get lots of greenery to add a side-yard for outdoor dining plus an eye-catching enhancement for the rooftop.

It has been a staple of Heartlake City storefronts to have oversized iconography in the signage. But this time the subject matter gets a sculptural 3D treatment, which is fun. The drink cup cleverly uses an inserted axle with end-stud to reverse direction. The same little clear element that was used as a straw at Mia’s juice cart functions here as a bend in the giant straw. It’s great that we end up with two spares of these. It’s a handy part. The mega-sized sandwich and drink get clipped into place on an angle.

The clean-up area demonstrates responsible sorting for disposal. I bet the food scraps will return as rich soil after composting. “Reduce, reuse, recycle!”

Mia is tending a lush, if tiny, raised-bed garden, producing the freshest of ingredients. In this farm-to-table concept I see carrots for the juice, lettuce for sandwiches, and some fruit growing on a trellis. Each clump of fruit is secured by a gray clip element. I would’ve preferred to see those in green—but that’s not been made. As cherries grow on trees, I'm not sure what fruits these are meant to be. Red and green grapes?


Here’s a look at the spare parts in each bag. You could certainly put a few of these to use on the model.


Summary:

This set is easy to recommend—for the figures, play value, and architectural parts. I like how the building has two walk-up windows. I can envision additional characters filling up this scene: workers inside running the kitchen and register … a queue forming for orders ... a crowd waiting for pickup/payment … maybe some friends and families spreading blankets on the grass to enjoy their grab-and-go … someone plays music while a puppy frolics… 

 

Disclaimer: This set was provided by The LEGO Group for the purpose of sharing set details with fans. Opinions provided here solely reflect those of our reviewer. Photographs are property of Friends Bricks and are not directed by TLG in any fashion.

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