We are excited to have another guest review from our NYC dweller, Jen. She’s been on many cupcake adventures with us and has taken the time to write today’s review on a new shop she visited, City Cakes. Thanks Jen!
Over the summer, I got an internship in the design department of Abrams Books. It’s been a cool experience, especially for a bookworm and craft queen like me, and it’s close enough to my apartment that I’ve been able to walk to work every day. During the hot and humid summer days, I was all about the frozen yogurt places on the way home, but once it started to cool down, I noticed the teeny tiny City Cakes bakery. Normally, I avoid anything food-related that is in a basement because NYC is a pretty grungy place, but when I saw that they have an A (it’s NYC law that all places that serve food have health code letter grades displayed in their front windows) I decided that one day I’d give it a go.
As the Crusaders have mentioned about a hundred times already, pumpkin + cupcakes = awesome… usually. When I saw this sign outside of City Cakes in early October, I decided that the time had come to venture inside. So today I did.
I walked down the metal stairs and into the awkward tiny hallway, and was surprised at exactly how small this place is. It would be cramped with three customers inside, though surprisingly they had about ten different cupcake flavors displayed in and on top of the case. They also have cookies, and the sample I tried, which I believe was chocolate with white chocolate chips, was very yummy. (In hindsight, I should have skipped the cupcakes and gotten some cookies…) There were two or three employees talking behind the counter, in an area not much bigger than the front and I couldn’t help but notice how spacious my studio apartment seemed compared to this place. I was worried initially that they wouldn’t accept credit cards, as I rarely carry cash, but they do with a $10 minimum, which was perfect because I wanted to get four cupcakes.
I chose two of the pumpkin spice cupcakes, as those were the reason I came in, (and I didn’t want to have to share), then one red velvet, and one salted caramel, for my hubby and I to split. The total came to $10.50, which I thought was pretty reasonable considering the usual NYC cupcake prices are a bit higher.
I was very excited to try all of the cupcakes, but especially the pumpkin spice, so we dug into those first.
When cupcakes have a lot of frosting, as all of these did, I start licking off some of the frosting before I take a bite of the cake, so that the frosting doesn’t completely overwhelm the flavor of the cake (I’m strange, I know). So anyway, I noticed that the cream cheese frosting had a sort of strange tanginess to it, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It made the roof of my mouth tingle, and not in a good way, but I’m not always the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting, so I figured I’d just move on to the cake.
My hubby’s first comment was, “Well this is dense.” Huge understatement. The cake was denser than pumpkin bread, and nowhere near as tasty. I managed to make it halfway through, but had to stop. It just wasn’t good. My hubby only made it about ¾ of the way through, and he can usually finish anything! I felt bad for throwing half of the cupcake away, but I had hope for the next ones.
Next up was the red velvet cupcake. We split this one and boy am I glad I didn’t buy two of them. I hate to say it, but this cupcake could very well be the very worst cupcake I have ever eaten. Ever.
It looked good and smelled good (as they all did) but the cream cheese frosting was just okay. The cake was just as dense as the pumpkin, but it was seriously like eating sawdust. I honestly don’t know how a cupcake can be that dry. We both threw our halves away after only one small bite. So disappointing, but I know from experience that it is hit or miss with red velvet, and usually it’s more of a miss.
Finally was the salted caramel. Even after the other two cupcakes, I had hope for this one – how can you possibly screw up salted caramel?
Cutting it in half was a huge mess, as caramel was everywhere, but licking my fingers was delicious at least. This frosting was buttercream, and it tasted alright, but was a bit crunchy as if it had been sitting out for a day already. The caramel drizzle was the only thing that saved it. I could taste a bit of the saltiness in the frosting, but I didn’t eat too much of it as it was nothing special and kind of stale. Moving on to the cake, which I believe was caramel flavored. It wasn’t horrible, but it was still pretty dry. I thought it was the best of all three, until I noticed little chunks in both bites I took, which suggested that they didn’t stir the batter enough before baking it. That kind of grossed me out and it was nothing special, so that one went in the trash too. The hubby threw his away about halfway through, but he said if he absolutely had to choose, that would be his favorite of the night too.
I am very disappointed that the cupcakes from City Cakes were so lackluster, but more than that I’m disappointed that I didn’t have any ice cream or yummy desserts in my apartment that could take the bad taste out of my mouth! Blech.
- Review by Guest Crusader, Jen (New York, New York)