Friday, September 11, 2009

More Cupcakes and The Meatloaf Bakery, Chicago IL

As can be expected on any foodie expedition, aside from the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner snacks are a must. While time was limited on the most recent visit to Chicago trip we did manage to visit two places for snacks - one preplanned and the other not. First, prior to our reservations at Blackbird - knowing that we'd be at a baseball game later with no acceptable food options - we decided to stop at More Cupcakes, a small shop that came highly recommended by a fellow foodie. Browsing their website I was instantly struck by options like Bacon Maple, BLT, and Foie Gras with Sour Cherries - actually, it was the Foie cake that sealed the deal.

Arriving around 10:45am we were greeted by a friendly young female server as well as the store's owner - as well as about 20 different cupcake options. Discussing the choices with the owner I will fully admit I was VERY impressed by her knowledge of traditional baking, her attention to detail (cupcakes are finished in-store,) willingness for innovation, and salesmanship. What I was disappointed by was the fact that many of the cakes listed on the website's "daily" list were not available until later in the day - the Foie for instance wouldn't be ready until noon. Deciding on one sweet and one savory with a return either later in the day or the following day we were actually given one of the passionfruit mojito minis prior to leaving - an excellent little bite with creamy frosting, hints of mint, and an alcoholic kick.

After lunch and a trip to Wrigley we were fortunately allowed to take our cakes into the stadium and decided to give them a taste prior to the famous 7th inning stretch. First - the BLT - featuring a bacon brioche cake topped with ranch frosting and 3 halved cherry tomatoes - VERY unique, very well done, but a bit too heavy on the frosting. While the bacon brioche itself was incredible and the cherries perfectly tart, the ratio of frosting to cake was simply too high and we ended up discarding half the frosting.

The second choice - the judging standard - was the Red Velvet with Cream Cheese icing. Explaining to us her method for making the red velvet (real unprocessed cocoa to give the red tinge) I was admittedly looking forward to it throughout our meal at Blackbird and was not let down - everything from the cake to the frosting was perfect, including the ratio. Not overly sweet, a dense/moist cake, smooth but textural frosting - one of the best Red Velvets I've ever had the chance to enjoy.

Returing on the following day around 1:00pm, despite their varying menu, we found the exact same selection as the day prior - including the "cupcake of the day" - Salty Caramel. No foie...actually, no savories at all...and three less-than-helpful staffers standing around behind the counter discussing the one girl's boyfriend. Perhaps service shines most when the owner is in house. In the future I guess I'd probably be best served to order in advance or to call ahead in order to avoid disappointment.

Our second random stop was on the way back from the Cubs game - on the way to L2O - and it was a joy to my sister who saw the restaurant on our previous visit - The Meatloaf Bakery. Featuring "cupcakes" of varying ground meats with an assortment of toppings I have to admit I was skeptical - so much so that when we walked in and were greeted I told the salesman that we were unlikely to buy anything but were instead just looking. Appearing to be okay with that our salesman still offered to tell us about the items and after a few moments of listening to the concept I figured "what the heck" and bought two of the minis which were "baked to completion" while we waited.

Beginning with the HERBY TURKEY LOAF featuring "Lean ground turkey with a blend of spices, garlic, red pepper, fresh herbs and a dusting of aged parmesan-reggiano cheese. Crowned with herby bread dressing and served with cranberry sauce, of course!" I must say I was impressed - an excellent turkey meatloaf with subtle nuance added by the spices plus textural contrasts from the dressing and cranberry sauce the 1.5 bite piece was quite pleasant and if I lived locally I'd certainly consider trying it in a larger portion.

The second choice, OMEGA-3 LOAF featured "wild caught Alaskan salmon; rich and fluffy with a hint of lemon, parsley and dill and topped with wasabi mashed potatoes and served with fresh lemon-dill yogurt sauce" and was also quite good with the heavy fish well accented by the lemon and yogurt sauce and just a bit of spice lent from the potatoes.

Browsing the website after our visit I have to say I was amused by some of their "cakes" with frosting made of mashed potatoes and would actually love to do such a thing for a potluck sometime. Cool concept, well executed, good prices, and a heck of a salesman - can't argue with that.


Colin's Mom said...

Guess who? Your new blog stalker. I also love desserts and see that you have a thing for anything sinful while on vacation as well. What about your favorite dessert spot, cupcake or otherwise? I'm more of a cake/pie/cookie type, over ice cream/chocolate/pastry kind of girl. Thanks!

H.Peter said...

Savory cupcakes. Interesting concept.

Great writing too.