Archive for the 'New York City' Category

The Magnolia Bakery

May 27, 2007
Cuisine: Desserts, Bakery

401 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014-2452

Phone: 212-462-2572
Website: none

Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting and Sprinkles ($2)

People either love or hate Magnolia, but there is no denying that this West Village bakery is the birthplace of the cupcake trend currently taking over both coasts. Eateries with a lot of hype around them usually turn me off, but sustained hype is a different story. Magnolia has been around since the mid 1990’s, so they must be doing something right, right?

Magnolia patrons are limited to purchasing a dozen cupcakes at a time, which wasn’t a problem for me because at this point on the food tour I had consumed half a Luger burger, an entire concrete from Shake Shack, and a third of an enormous slice of Red Velvet Cake from Billy’s Bakery. Fortunately, I had room for a single cupcake. The line at Magnolia has been known to stretch around the block a few times, but luckily was only two deep this afternoon. After waiting a quick minute, the bouncer let me inside the bakery.

There were a handful of classic cupcake combinations available for purchase including vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. I went for vanilla cake with chocolate frosting because it’s my favorite. The line to pay took a while to get through because Magnolia only has one cash register, but I waited patiently and eagerly anticipated my first bite.

The Astronomer and I settled in a nearby stoop to enjoy the most hyped baked good around. I took the cupcake out of the box and admired its cuteness because cupcakes really are adorable. Then I took a bite. YUM! I was an instant fan. The cake was fluffy, moist, and light. The frosting was simultaneously buttery and chocolaty, rich, and piled on thick. And the sprinkles were just plain great.

What can I say? Magnolia cranks out a killer cupcake.


Billy’s Bakery

May 28, 2007
Cuisine: Desserts & Bakeries

184 9th Ave, New York 10011
At 21st St

Phone: 212-647-9956

Red Velvet Cake – a moist, deep red cake flavored with a hint of cocoa and topped with cream cheese icing ($4.50/slice)

This is sort of embarrassing to admit, but here goes—Jessica Simpson introduced me to Red Velvet Cake. She also introduced me to the importance of keeping marriage and reality television separate, but that’s neither here nor there.

Read about Billy’s Bakery here:

Shake Shack

May 28, 2007
Cuisine: Burgers, Hot Dogs

Madison Square Park, New York 10010
At 23rd St & Madison Ave

Phone: 212-889-6600

Single Cheeseburger ($4)

French Fries ($2.50)

Hopscotch Concrete – Hot Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Toffee and Valrhona Chocolate Chunks ($6.25)

While interning at YM Magazine during the summer of 2002, I lunched everyday on the benches in Madison Square Park. Since I was paid in nail polish and future recommendations, I usually packed an uneventful PB&J sandwich or bought a hot dog from the vendor located on the park’s edge. Returning to the park five years later, I barely recognized the place.

Ever since Shake Shack sprouted up during the summer of 2004, Madison Square Park has become quite the dining destination. Long gone are the days of urban serenity and in its place are winding lines of hungry diners seeking quality fastfood—the hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, and custard served up at Shake Shack are only made using high-quality ingredients and no trans fats.

After waiting 45 minutes in line to place our order and an additional 10 minutes for our food to be made, we finally sat down to eat. People often complain about the lengthy line at Shake Shack, but the lively ambiance in the park more than makes up for it. My advice is to not arrive too hungry.

I was in the mood for something cool and sweet after the Luger Burger and ordered a Hopscotch Concrete made with Hot Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Toffee and Valrhona Chocolate Chunk. I had never heard of a concrete before ordering one at Shake Shack, but The Astronomer, a St. Louis native, was quite knowledgeable. He informed me that a well-made concrete can be turned upside down without any deliciousness falling out a la Ted Drewes.

Good thing I was dining with a concrete expert because the concrete I received was unacceptably melted. I brought the concrete up to the pick-up window and asked for a new one. A woman in the shack informed me that the concrete was liquid rather than solid due to the hot caramel sauce, so then I requested for my concrete to to be made with caramel on the side. The second concrete I received was a vast improvement, but still wouldn’t pass the upside down cup test. I guess I’ll just have to return to St. Louis for the real deal. Texture aside, the concrete was pretty darn wonderful. The vanilla custard was creamy, the chocolate toffee was crunchy and sweet, and the chocolate chunks were dark and luxurious. I was on a sugar high for a good long while after I polished off the concrete.

The Astronomer ordered a single cheeseburger with a side of fries. The burger was quite good and on par with the ones from In-N-Out. Following the Luger Burger, Shake Shack’s paled in comparison. We admit that it’s unfair to compare a fastfood-type hamburger with a gourmet one, but the Luger Burger was fresh in our minds and on our taste buds. The fries were decent, but The Astronomer prefers his with seasonings. Unless the line at Shake Shack was dramatically shorter, The Astronomer wouldn’t return for the hamburger or fries. However, I would return for the semi-frozen treats.

Peter Luger

May 28, 2007
Cuisine: Steakhouse

178 Broadway, Brooklyn 11211
At Driggs Ave

Phone: 718-387-7400

Onion, Rye and Salt, White (complimentary)

Luger Burger with Cheese ($10)

Luger Milk Chocolate Coins (complimentary)

After a seven mile run along the scenic East River, The Astronomer and I were ready for day two of our food tour. We hopped on the F train, transferred to the M, and eventually arrived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Peter Luger.

For the full review click here:


May 27, 2007
Cuisine: Desserts, Bakery

248 Broome St, New York 10002
Btwn Orchard & Ludlow St

Phone: 212-677-5047

Chocolate Spelt Cupcake with Rich Chocolate Frosting ($2.95)

Vanilla Spelt Cupcake with Zesty Lemon Frosting ($2.95)

The cupcake craze taking over New York City and Los Angeles has yet to hit Philadelphia so I included a handful of bakeries specializing in cupcakes on the food tour. BabyCakes was the first one we hit up since it was located near our shelter in the Lower East Side.

Babycakes differentiates itself from the sea of competitors by offering vegan cupcakes. Erin McKenna, BabyCakes’ founder, virtuously touts on the bakery’s website:

In a city dominated by cupcakes overflowing with sugar, flour and butter cream, it’s easy for those with delicate tummies to feel left out. BabyCakes offers all natural, organic and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. Rest assured, all sweeteners have been chosen responsibly and used sparingly. White sugar will never be found in our bakery, nor will we ever use toxic chemical sweeteners. Instead, most products are sweetened with agave nectar—a natural syrup from a cactus which is low on the glycemic index and often a safe alternative to most non-insulin dependent diabetics. Occasionally, unprocessed and unrefined sugar is used in certain goods, although sparingly.

Curious to try sweets made without the usual suspects, The Astronomer and I picked up two cupcakes to-go. He chose lemon, while I went with chocolate. We dropped off the cupcakes in my brother’s apartment then headed off to dinner. Hours later when we returned to enjoy our treats, the frosting had unfortunately melted due to warm temperatures both inside the apartment and the cupcakes’ plastic container.

While I must admit that the frosting-less cupcakes looked a little pitiful, they still tasted great. Both cupcakes were sweet and moist—the lemon one was tart and the chocolate one was very chocolaty. When it comes to cupcakes, I totally appreciate one-dimensional flavors. The texture and taste achieved without butter or eggs by the clever bakers at BabyCakes is very impressive.

Continue reading ‘BabyCakes’