Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The Cake Cafe, $1 with meal purchase
It was an offer I couldn't refuse. After I ordered my meal at the New Orleans Cake Cafe & Bakery, the woman behind the counter asked if I wanted a cupcake with that. For only a dollar more I could take my pick from a broad glass case filled with fat, frosted cakes.
The only catch? I was ordering breakfast. For a few seconds I held a silent debate.
The outcome? I can now say that cake goes just fine with grits.
Cake Cafe founder Steve Himelfarb first came to New Orleans to work as recording engineer, but eventually realized he was happier baking. He started out selling sliced of his homemade chocolate cake door-to-door, then to order, then from a small storefront in Exchange Alley. Just about a year after the bakery opened, Katrina hit. Himelfarb spent some time managing a restaurant in New York, but was back in New Orleans as soon as he had the chance, re-opening the bakery in a larger space in the Faubourg Marigny. The cafe is now the kind of neighborly place where people share tables when the free coffee refills and $1 cupcakes result in full-capacity crowds.
After making up my mind to have a cupcake, I was faced with an even more difficult choice: chocolate, red velvet, or wedding? I went with the "wedding" cupcake, a chubby puck of soft white cake crowned with a rich buttercream frosting saturated with swoon-inducing almond extract.
The New Orleans Cake Cafe & Bakery
2440 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA