Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Babycakes Cafe, Las Vegas NV

Leaving Las Vegas en route for Los Angeles we’d originally considered traveling pastries from Bouchon versus our leftovers from Robuchon as breakfast – at least until I heard about Babycakes Café. Highly regarded on Yelp! and reported to be committed to local high quality ingredients the small shop was a brief detour and, honestly, how often do I have a car at my disposal in Las Vegas? Opening at 7am we woke early, loaded the car, and arrived at the restaurant at 7:05 – so early the coffee hadn’t even finished brewing.

Entering the restaurant we were greeted sleepily by a young Hispanic woman at the front and seated by a young Hispanic man who would also act as our server throughout the meal. With water poured menus were delivered and once coffee and tea were optioned for we were told it would be a few moments as water was still boiling and coffee still brewing. Low on décor we sat back and watched highlights of DeSean Jackson lighting up the Giants on the plasma screen until the young man returned with beverages and took our orders.

With quality service throughout the meal – coffee refilled frequently and water never empty – we watched the restaurant slowly fill to half capacity while we waited…and from my vantage point I watched the kitchen, a two man operation running the griddles and grills with great speed and skill. With the time just shy of 7:30 our plates would arrive - each warm, well prepared, and accompanied with appropriate toppings in small plastic cups.


The first plate, ordered by my sister, was the short stack of Peanut Butter and “make your own combination!” pancakes – in her case banana and chocolate. Served with maple syrup the pancakes were decent but not spectacular – a mild peanut butter taste within and chopped bananas and chocolate chips atop.

My aunt’s selection, a short stack of Red Velvet pancakes topped with whipped cream and chocolate crumbles and served with cream cheese syrup would fare better than my sister’s choice, albeit largely only because of the syrup. Cocoa tinged, thin, and somewhat crisp on the exterior the pancakes themselves were tasty while the addition of the chocolate crumbles lent some textural variation and the whipped cream was expectedly sweet. In the cup, imagine a mildly citrus cream cheese frosting thinned out – a great idea that worked nicely on both this dish and my selection. As we’d be dining on Red Velvet pancakes for the next two days I feel obligated to note that these were the worst of the group by a large margin.

For my choice, Carrot Cakes – certainly the most interesting of our pancake selections with shredded carrots and pecans studding the batter. Topped with more crumbled pecans and the same lovely syrup served with the red velvet options I actually enjoyed my short stack quite a bit and was glad I’d opted for less food so I could sample some of my mother’s choice – the best of the meal.

Titled Honey Toast and described as “two pieces of thick sliced honey toast dipped in a farm fresh egg wash and cooked to perfection! Then drizzled with sweet honey. Yummy!” I will have to agree with Babycake’s assessment – they were prefect and yummy. Significant in size and heft the two thick slices of toast were perfectly caramelized on the exterior and custard within while the slowly melting whipped cream and honey proved to be a smooth and sweet balance without being overly saccharine. While superfluous, I will note the house syrup was actually quite good – it reminded me of the Sweet Syrup at Camellia Grill in New Orleans.

Settling the modest bill – a mere $7.50/each with tax and tip – at the front before making our way to the car we were bid farewell and told to come back soon. While I’ll admit that in retrospect I rather wish we’d have simply gotten some pastries for the road, I certainly did not dislike Babycakes – it just wasn’t worth the special trip. While the small café would be well suited for a city like Columbus or Toledo, given the quality of the competition in Las Vegas it just doesn’t stack up, even if the price is a steal compared to options on the strip – I’d much sooner venture to Hash House a Go Go (on strip or off.)

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