What’s a “Stay-cation” Without Cupcakes?

Crusader Stacy recently took time off from work, spending part of her vacation in Florida, and then coming home early for a few days of R&R. Part of her “stay-cation” included spending the day with Leah and me. We had lunch, we talked, we shopped, we talked, and then we sat on the deck and talked some more. A perfect sister-day. Instead of dining out, Stacy picked up lunch from J Café, in Westminster, MD. I’ve been there before, but only for the cupcakes. They have a quaint restaurant and very appealing lunch menu.

JCafe_Interior

Since our lunch was so good, I just have to share it. Stacy had the Apple Pecan Salad, which is mixed greens, topped with sliced apple, candied pecans, feta cheese, craisins, red onion, and a sweet vinaigrette. From the looks of it, she thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

JCafe_Salad
(Even in a take-out container they took time to give the salad a nice presentation.)

I was craving bread that afternoon, so I selected the Sweet Chicken Salad Sandwich. J Café was out of croissants (bummer!) but suggested their focaccia bread instead.

JCafe_Sandwich

The chicken salad was jazzed up with craisins, celery, and chopped walnuts, and was unlike any chicken salad I’ve had. Because of the bread selection, the sandwich was huge and I ate the whole thing. The craisins added a touch of sweetness, while the walnuts gave a great texture. Although it would have been nice to sit in their café, they packaged up the food nicely and it was still enjoyable, even as take-out.

Now for what you all really want to hear more about…the cupcakes! As I mentioned, I tried their Pumpkin Maple and Sweet Potato cupcakes last fall. They were, hands-down, some of the best seasonal cupcakes I had last year. So, why did it take me so long to go back? My only answer really is, parking can be tricky in that area and I was busy eating a lot of other treats. So, it took Stacy going on a stay-cation to motivate us to give them another try.

Limoncello

JCafe_Lemoncillo
(I noticed that they used cupcake wrappers that came from the dollar section at Michael’s Craft Store – I spend a lot of time there…I thought that gave the cupcakes a personal, homemade touch.)

For my cupcake, I selected the Limoncello. With it nearing the end of summer, I’m getting my last fix of light, citrus/fruit flavors before I leave them behind for pumpkin and spice. Sadly, I wasn’t as impressed with this cupcake as I’d been with the others. The cake was good, with a light, but fresh, lemon flavor. However the cake was dense and on the dry side and the lemon frosting didn’t seem as natural. Perhaps they used Limoncello to flavor the frosting, but if so it resulted in tasting more like lemon extract. A redeeming quality was the smooth texture of the frosting and balanced sweetness as a whole.

Andes Mint

JCafe_MintChocolate

To offset her salad, Stacy chose a rich Andes Mint cupcake. Stacy said that the cake was some of the best chocolate cake she’s had, moist with deep chocolate flavor, but the frosting was the star: not too sweet, perfect hints of mint, and small pieces of Andes Mints mixed throughout. She said that it was the best cupcake she’s had in a long time!

There will definitely be a next time for J Café, and hopefully it involves grabbing a table (instead of take-out) to enjoy their charming atmosphere while eating our cupcakes.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

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J Café: A Hidden Gem

Just as their website says, J Café really is a hidden gem, located on Main Street in downtown Westminster. Crusader Stacy had mentioned them about a year ago, but I wasn’t sure that they were a regular cupcake-carrying establishment, so I never rushed over there. Luckily Stacy reminded me of J Café last week, when they were debuting their seasonal pumpkin cupcake. With no plans for the day, I decided an outing was in order.

(Photo from http://www.myjcafe.com No copyright infringement intended.)

I’ve probably driven past J Café a hundred times, but its understated exterior blends perfectly with the historic Main Street surroundings. I was glad to see that the interior also mimics the traditional Victorian style, with an open entry way, original plank floors, narrow staircase (for what I’m assuming is residential space on the top floors), and a long hallway that leads to the back, where the “front” counter is. Seating is situated in the two large rooms off either side of the hall. At the counter was a display case that was filled with a respectable selection of cupcakes, particularly for a café that seems to focus on breakfast and lunch. There were probably 6-8 cupcakes to choose from. I went with the seasonal Pumpkin Maple cupcake and the Sweet Potato, since it also seemed appropriate for the fall. However, I really want to try the Limoncello!

The cupcakes were tightly packaged in a deli container, but didn’t budge much and made it home successfully. The biggest flaw in the packaging was that Leah could see the cupcakes. My girl has really developed a big love for sweets, but since I planned on waiting to share the cupcakes with my husband later that night, I was left with a very disappointed little girl. (Don’t worry. She got over it easily with a pumpkin spiced Hershey Kiss.)

Pumpkin Maple Cupcake

This cupcake had a soft, moist cake, with a buttery, maple-spiced frosting. The flavors were perfectly balanced and Crusader Elisa (the biggest butter lover you’ll ever meet) would have loved it.

Sweet Potato Cupcake

The Sweet Potato cupcake had a salted caramel frosting and was topped with a candied pecan. The cake was soft and moist, just like the pumpkin, but also had pieces of fresh sweet potato. The frosting was also buttery, and balanced the perfect level of sweetness.

The cupcakes are a normal size and have a home-baked feel to them, which is comforting and goes perfectly with the warmth of the café. After tasting the cupcakes, seeing how nice the venue is, and checking out the breakfast and lunch menu, I can’t believe I waited so long to try them out. I’m looking forward to going back when I can sit with friends and enjoy a full meal, with cupcakes for dessert.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)