I don’t even like cupcakes. To be perfectly honest, I don’t like sweets; my sweet tooth disappeared right around the time I discovered girls, one vice for another. Before this gets more awkward than it already is, I must remember the motivation behind this review. I was asked by the the foremost DC Cupcake critic to write a guest blog for her site, and I <3 Steph. She and I go back like babies and pacifiers and Universal Em is no liar. So when she asked me to write a feature for her site, I jumped on it, because she is my friend and that’s what friends do. (Friends also edit their friends in accordance to their audience’s wishes, hence the ultimate purpose of this entry)
My assigned location was The Sweet Lobby located in Eastern Market in plain sight from the metro, literally less than a block away. WMATA is my life so the proximity earned this place extra kudos. A cute little walk-in, The Sweet Lobby, is clearly a get in and get out type of operation. There is no seating and the establishment screams takeout. Living in DC, I have only become accustomed to this type of set-up through dingy, nondescript Chinese/Soul Food joints serving wings and mumbo sauce with varying degrees of success.
The spot was popping. I soon found out that the constant traffic was due to the recent success the store received by winning The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. The broadcast which premiered on Super Bowl Sunday, apparently a big deal, ensured that when I arrived there were no personal menus to peruse and no macarons available for sale. Besides the cupcakes, The Sweet Lobby is known for their take on the French confection. This information was made readily available by the employees, who were not only friendly but very knowledgeable on the store and the 19 different flavors on hand that day.
At $2.75 a cupcake, I decided on three flavors, the Chocolate Salted Caramel, the Red Velvet (those two being their most popular) and the Champagne Strawberry. The Champagne Strawberry was a no-brainer, simply because my love for alcohol is well documented and knows no bounds. Out of all three selections, this was my least favorite. Described on the menu as more of a cake, the champagne left the white chocolate filling feeling spongy and hearty, while the champagne butter cream icing tasted more like some sort orange whip. It didn’t help that even though fresh strawberry chunks were used, I could barely taste them.
The Red Velvet I thought was an appropriate second option since it’s like the Holy Grail flavor for aficionados. We get it, it’s good. The particular icing used is a tangy cream cheese frosting, which I am sorry to report overshadows everything. I’m talking like the city of Philadelphia was harmed while making it.
Thank god for the Chocolate Salted Caramel. Hindsight is 20/20 and in retrospect I would have gotten this three times over. Everything from the rich Callebaut chocolate, the gooey salted caramel core, and the milk chocolate butter cream topping with the salted caramel swirl was just divine. The thing literally crumbles softly, melts in your mouth while all the flavors compliment each other wellâ€¦..PAUSE.
Although the shop opened a little under a year ago, word of mouth and recent success have allowed it to keep that fresh relevancy. With that lone cupcake, it’s not hard to see why. Also offering shortbread cookies, madeleines, and their own brand of teas and hot chocolate, this Barracks Row shop is sure to lobby their way into your mouths and heartsâ€¦.see what I did there?
To read more about about Steph’s infinite wisdom on the state of cupcakes around the world but more specifically in DC, please visit her site.