BabyCakes: A Culinary Conundrum

If you've read any of my past articles, you'll recall that I have a certain fascination with cupcakes. I'm not sure what it is exactly...the simplicity, the frosting, my obsession with personalization taken to the extreme as it's a tiny cake made just for me...I'm willing to accept any of the above. While visiting the Lower East Side on a bright Saturday, Shaun and I stopped in at BabyCakes, the chic vegan bakery hidden on the corner of Broome and Ludlow. I had heard tales regaling BabyCakes for their fabulous cupcakes, and given my history with the teeny confections, it really seemed necessary to check it out (for research purposes, of course). I went with the carrot cupcake - admittedly a stray from my usual repetoire of anything vanilla buttercream, red velvet, or peanut butter flavored. I was so excited at the possibility of finding a new, fabulous bakery that I savored the simplistic beauty of the frosting yet couldn't wait to dive right in.
After the first bite, my only thought was (please don't hate me for this)...I don't really like this. I hate to say it, but between my cupcake and Shaun's cookies I was a little disappointed that I had wasted the calories and the stomach space on it. I know, it's vegan and healthy and made from real products, not processed...but isn't there something a little off about that? These are cupcakes we're talking about, not salads. Though I was amazed at what they could do without using real fat or sugar, I can't say that I'd seek out BabyCakes again. And yes, I do realize that they are gluten-free and for those of you with that unfortunate allergy, I am truly happy that you can too bask in the joy of a fabulous cupcake. And with that stipulation, I'll admit, they were pretty good. But as a stand alone cupcake? It just didn't live up to the hype for me. The bakery itself, however, was sweet and charming and essentially the perfect little bakery.
What do you think? Is it just me? I feel as though it's a bit overrated and kind of like Pinkberry...all I could think was that maybe this place was good solely because of the upscale, urban vibe around it, but not necessarily due to the tastiness of said sweet treats (I won't go any further into Pinkberry...all I can say, Fruity Pebble topping aside, is really?). Was there too much hype before I got to experience it? Did I choose the wrong flavor? Or is it just my unsophisticated palette?

$6 Lunch

Although I’ve given up ordering in lunch almost entirely, there are some days when the only residing items in my fridge are condiments and a can of Fresca. Unfortunately this also coincides with the days when I have little more than a few dollars in my wallet. In my quest to find reasonably priced lunch on the Upper West Side, I came across a super $6 lunch special.

Soutine Bakery . 104 West 70th Street . 212-496-1450
Tucked away on West 70th Street is a little bakery called Soutine. Primarily a maker of wedding cakes, this adorable, blink-and-you-miss-it bakery also features an unbeatable lunch special that’s not only delicious, but won’t break your bank. Though not publicized in any way (no signage, no menu, no online mention) all you have to do is go in and ask! It is one of the best values you’re likely to find. 
For a mere $6, you have your choice of a pre-made (but very fresh) sandwich, drink (primarily water and juice selections), and dessert. I generally choose the delicious ham and cheese on a fresh baguette. Other types include egg salad, tomato and mozzarella, turkey, and whatever happens to be available on a given day. You can choose from whatever’s on hand, so go early for a larger selection. The bread is crispy, and though many of the sandwiches are mayo and mustard free, you won’t miss them.

For the dessert, choose anything from giant cookies to brownies to blondies. You may have to pay extra for the cupcake, but since I’m an addict, I couldn’t resist. The frosting was similar to a lightly sweetened, very smooth whipped cream and the cake was light and crumbly. Beware when eating the old fashioned way, as it could be a bit messy, but totally worth it. 
Tasty sandwich, delectable dessert, and bottled water for $6? This is lunch my way.

You can also become a Facebook Fan by searching for SOUTINE Bakery