January 29, 2009

Butter Lane

Butter Lane is a new cupcake shop that opened up in the East Village recently, and upon reading about their fruit frostings I knew I had to get a bite. I love fruit, and I love cupcakes, and there is definitely a lack of successful marriages between the two. Jennifer and I convinced some buddies to tag along with us to taste test some cupcakes (it's hard being our friends), and we were pretty happy with what we put in our mouths.

The shop itself is small with just a few stools, but inviting and cozy all the same. One wall is covered some lovely wallpaper, and the other features a chalkboard with the day's offerings. They had frosting samples out while we were there, and I tasted almost all of them. One thing of note is that Butter Lane offers American or French style vanilla and chocolate frosting. French style contains cooked egg whites and is fluffier than it's American counterpart.

Amy and I split the banana cupcake with cream cheese frosting, and a white cake cupcake with raspberry frosting. The banana cake was moist and banana-y, like a really good banana bread, and paired very well with the cream cheese frosting. It made for a pretty delicious cupcake that I would take a trip back for. The raspberry cupcake was also good-- the cake was a little crumbly but flavorful and fluffy, and the icing tasted like fresh raspberries. I really wanted to try the strawberry kind, as I'm a big fresh strawberry cake and/or icing fan (not the fake kind, and only when it's done right), but they were out for the night. I will be back!

If you're craving a cupcake, Butter Lane isn't the cheapest (about $2.50 a cupcake), but their focus on quality, fresh ingredients and their creative frostings make it worth the trip and the price. -Laurel

Butter Lane is the perfect addition to my cupcake fetish. And it's in an area I frequent quite often so I'm pretty excited. And fresh fruit frosting = YUM.

This place was pretty awesome. The super nice ladies behind the counter invited us to try all of the different icings to pick the one we liked the most, while discouraging double dipping (just good to know in general. I mean, there's no one at Sephora who makes sure no one double dips the lipsticks and that makes me nervous.). The French style was yummy, but wasn't my favorite. They were out of pistachio, but they had just made the recipe for the first time the day before we visited anyway, so definitely be on the lookout for that. And apparently the peanut butter icing is delicious.

However, I opted for the fresh-off-the-icing pan lemon icing with vanilla cake. The cake was moist on the bottom and hard on the top, not dry, but hard (a reverse muffin top perhaps?). The icing was delicious. Not too tart, but just the right amount.

Definitely stop by Butter Lane and pretend that one of the cupcakes counts as your carbs and fruit serving for the day. - Jennifer

Address: 123 East 7th Street (btwn Ave A and 1st Ave)

Payment: Cash, Cards

Delivery: Yep! You just have to place your order the day before like all the other bakeries.

Open Late: Totes, 11pm is pretty damn late for a bakery.

Large Group Friendly: Nope

Bar/Happy Hour: No! But definitely coffee and tea.

January 13, 2009

Neptune Diner

We picked up Laurel from the airport and she automatically said 'You guys hungry?' I had just eaten waffles, but of course I have a mental problem where I must always stuff food in my mouth, so I was down for some more grub. I remembered the Neptune Diner because as Laurel said, it's famous, and because Dan had wanted to go there the other day (shout-out to Dan).

Even though I had already had waffles, I opted for french toast and bacon. The bacon was crispy and not too soggy which is rare to find at a diner. The french toast was amazing. It was an egg coated thick cut toast (the way french toast is SUPPOSED to be) fried to a crispness on the outside and a softness on the inside, and like the bacon, not too soggy. It tasted just like the way my dad used to make it.

Only complaint would be that the owners/servers were way too curt. I'm just not into that. Granted, I'm used to it at diners in New York, but it doesn't mean that I like it. However, I will say that Brett getting yelled at for having his feet in the seat was pretty much hilarious.

I would say that if I lived closer to the Neptune Diner, I would go there all the time. Too bad it's a little too far from my house. - Jennifer

PS - I just remembered that I'm pretty sure they had octopus on the menu.

Neptune Diner is rumored to be the best diner in Queens, and we ended up there because 1. Jennifer suggested it, and 2. it had parking and we were in a car. Upon walking inside you are greeted by an unappetizing fish case on your left, a long counter and lots of booth seating. The service was hasty and Brett was scolded for putting his feet up (again), but in a way you expect that from a diner. Diners are not where you go to be coddled.

The menu is classically ridiculously big. Pages are filled with sandwiches, salads, soups, egg dishes, Greek dishes, hot plates, french toast, drinks, milkshakes, and more. Pretty much anything you can think of (so don't take someone who is notoriously bad at making up their mind). In our true fashion, Jennifer and I ordered breakfast-- I the blueberry pancakes (above) and she the french toast (below). Brett got a milkshake and said it was okay. My pancakes were nice and fluffy, and the large helping of blueberries was nice, but it was really just blueberry pie filling tucked inside. I would have much preferred frozen or fresh blueberries inside the actual batter. I think overall it was too sweet, and just not as good as I had hoped.

I would be willing to try Neptune again and order something different. If you're craving classical diner grub and are in the area, it's worth a try. -Laurel

Address: 3105 Astoria Blvd, Astoria (Queens)

Payment: Cash or Card

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Full bar

Dessert Club ChikaLicious

Dessert Club ChikaLicious is a spot that's been on my list of places to try for a while, and one night after work I decided the time was right. I trudged over to their bakery outpost, across the street from the well known simply ChikaLicious, which serves a three-course prix fixe menu of desserts along with wine (don't worry, I'm going soon). They are formerly known for their bread puddings, but I thought we should sample a few of their other offerings.

I picked up three chocolate chip cookies ($1.50) and four cupcakes: red velvet, coconut, black and white, and s'mores, making my total $9. The cookies are standard size, not huge, but not a bad deal. They also taste great, boasting a lightly crispy edge, chewy inside, and quality chocolate. Don't get a three pack unless you expect to finish them off.

The cupcakes were a little smaller than standard size, but a nice one serving and with most options at $1.60, also not a bad deal. The cake on all of them wasn't overly moist, but was still a nice texture and the cake to frosting ratio was spot on. The best part of these cupcakes was often the frosting, which was super smooth and not overly sugary like most. I enjoyed all four, but my favorite might have been the red velvet. The s'mores cupcakes is a nice take on the classic flavor combo, though, and I haven't seen it's equal elsewhere.

The space itself is small with a little seating and you can eat in if you so choose. They also offer bread pudding, cheesecake, soft serve, smoothies, and coffee drinks. If you're in the area, definitely give it a try if you need a sugar fix like I do every, oh, 3 hours. -Laurel

I'm always up for dessert, of course. I'm always up for cookies, cupcakes, ANYTHING. So when we find a new place, I get oober excited. Especially a place that has a cute name, and when Laurel brings it to me so I don't have to do anything.

The cookies were good, but there was perhaps a little too much butter in them - they were very greasy. The chocolate was pure and delicious though, and there was just enough.

As for the cupcakes, I took one bite of the red velvet cake and freaked out. Best cream cheese icing I have ever tasted. And the cake was moist and (as red velvet is supposed to be, even though i like it when people put a tiny layer of chocolate between the cake and the icing) generally flavorless, but the icing would have overpowered it anyway. The black and white cupcake was good - pretty standard - soft and the icing was very sugary (in a good way). The coconut one was delicious - if you like coconut. It was mushy and the coconut was perfectly cooked. I, unfortunately, didn't try the s'mores one because I ate way too much.

I simply cannot WAIT to eat at the Dessert Bar. I was looking at the menu just yesterday and my mouth was watering. It looks sooooooo delicious. - Jennifer

Address: 204 E 10th St b/t 1st and 2nd Ave

Website: http://www.dessertclubchikalicious.com/

Payment: Cash or Card

Delivery: no

Open Late: midnight on the weekends

Bar/Happy Hour: no, but they have alcohol at ChikaLicious across the street
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