Sunday, January 16, 2011

let's go on a cupcake crawl!

i loooove me some cupcakes. and earlier this week, my friend emily & i decided to go on a veritable cupcake tour of boston's north shore this weekend (or a "cupcake crawl", as one of my twitter pals so ingeniously dubbed it)....just for fun and because we're that cool. all in all, we hit up 3 different cupcakeries -- and in truth, that was far more than enough, based on the cupcake coma that followed. when the day was done, we decided that we should rate each place in a hiiiighly scientific manner with respect to 4 different criterion: ambiance, selection, presentation, and of course, taste. drumroll please...the results!

1. cupcake cafe & bakery, beverly

our first stop was a little shop in beverly that had gotten rave yelp reviews, and we were excited to see what the fuss was about. we almost drove by the unassuming storefront, tucked in between a couple other businesses, and were quite underwhelmed upon walking in. while we were greeted warmly by the girl behind the counter, the atmosphere seemed cold, uninspired and uninviting.

given that it was just about a half-hour before closing time, we were quite impressed with the selection of cupcakes in the display case: vanilla buttercream, chocolate mousse, and chocolate peanut butter cup, if i remember correctly. we also grabbed a menu that listed all of the cafe's cupcake flavors - there were probably 15-20, which is also worth noting. emily & i ordered the vanilla buttercream and chocolate peanut butter cup to split, and they were both very adorably decorated, with cute frosting flourishes and multicolored sprinkles on the buttercream and a chunk of peanut butter cup dotting the top of the second cupcake. we had to stop the counter girl from bagging our cupcakes as we planned on eating there. as we had surmised from the lack of ambiance, this seems like a takeout kind of place!

continuing with the underwhelming trend, the buttercream cupcake was truly not much better than your standard grocery store variety. the chocolate peanut butter cup was tastier, and very rich, but the frosting was still subpar. i'd be willing to give this place another try at another time, but am not too optimistic.

ambiance: 2
selection: 7
presentation: 8
taste: 5

2. eat cake!, newburyport

i think i'm in love! i have emily to thank for suggesting this place, as she used them for her wedding, but it is a little off the beaten path in downtown newburyport, so i likely would have never been here otherwise. while the owner, hilary, does most of her business through weddings and private events -- in other words, not really a sit-down-and-snack type place -- the open-kitchen atmosphere was cozy, adorable and inspiring. in fact, she was working in the kitchen as we wandered in, and came right over to tell us enthusiastically about the cupcake flavors of the day. even more bonus points for creativity: the flavors change every day, but we got to choose between:

  • a chocolate-dipped cupcake with a snickers bar in the middle, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting that's covered in honey-roasted peanuts (YES, that's just one cupcake)
  • a chocolate-chip, chocolate-dipped poundcake cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting & chocolate sprinkles
  • a coconut cupcake with lemon curd filling and vanilla buttercream frosting topped with fresh coconut
  • red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting
  • key lime pie cupcake
is this real life?! i really wanted to try them all, i really did....but i went classic and chose the red velvet, while emily got the coconut.

cute packaging too, huh? as we dug into the box in the car, we felt like we were on an episode of "true life: i'm addicted to cupcakes", complete with awkward food moans and all. this was legit one of the best (if not the best) cupcakes i've ever had the pleasure of eating. frosting was perfect, texture was perfect. just fabulous all around.

ambiance: 8
selection: 10
presentation: 10
taste: 10

3. coven, salem

as some of you may remember, emily & i visited this place back when it first opened in may of last year and were less than impressed. she'd been back since, though, and encouraged me to give it another try. i'm so glad i did!

as i mentioned in my previous post, the atmosphere is SO FUN. weird fairy tale reenactments playing on the tvs, board games stocked on the shelves, and strange toys and dolls everywhere. so it was just as cool-looking as i remembered it. and far from just being a bakery, coven has sandwiches, salads, and soups as well, making it a great place to just hang for a late lunch on a lazy afternoon...or for cupcake-saturated 20-somethings to detox before going in for round #3. we both ordered the turkey chili (which, sidenote, was very good), and a vanilla buttercream cupcake as it was the only variety available. i'm giving them a little leeway with that since it was late in the day, and they're not strictly a bakery. plus, they at least had four different colored sprinkles on the cupcakes. and who doesn't love sprinkles?!

the cupcakes were quite good, if not a bit too sickly-sweet for my taste in terms of the frosting. the cake itself, was moist and delicious, though, and honestly i was just happy to try one of their cupcakes after being let down last time around. i'll definitely be back!

ambiance: 9
selection: 5
presentation: 8
taste: 7

as you can see, the official winner was definitely eat cake! we plan to hit some of the other cupcakeries in boston proper at some point, too. any suggestions for must-visit places? also, anyone wanna hire us to do this full-time? :)


  1. Oh. Em. Gawd I want a chocolate-dipped cupcake with a snickers bar in the middle, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting that's covered in honey-roasted peanuts...

  2. seriously! i'm regretting not ordering it now. if i was smart, i would have gotten one of each and enjoyed them all week...

  3. Wow! We're so flattered and honored by your review! Thanks very much for visiting last weekend. You've gotta try the Key Lime Pie and Chocolate fudge-Oreo cupcakes so be sure to keep an eye on FB for the day's cupcake menu. All the best to you, Hilary

  4. aw, thanks for the nice comment, hilary! i will definitely be back to try the other yummy and creative! :)

  5. Eat Cake! rocks! Hilary did our wedding cake and whenever we are back in Newburyport (or anywhere nearby) we make a daily pilgrimage in order to sample whatever is available. I don't think I've ever had a buttercream as perfect as Hilary's :-)

  6. i totally agree...can't wait to go back!