Just what DC needed... another cupcake shop! Crumbs Bake Shop is a New York import that opened its first DC location last Saturday on 11th and F, NW. Since we live in the neighborhood (and J can't turn down cupcakes), we decided to stroll down for a cupcake breakfast on their second day of operation.
What impressed me most was the sheer variety of cupcake offerings. They feature over 50 flavors of cupcakes ranging from the standard vanilla cake with vanilla frosting to the quirky cosmo or peanut butter and jelly.
Another unique thing about Crumbs is the ability to order the cupcakes in different sizes. The adorable one-inch Taste size can be ordered in packs of 12 and would make a perfect party treat. The Classic is your standard supermarket cupcake size while the Signature is better for sharing. If you've always dreamed of eating a cupcake the size of your head, Crumbs offers the Colossal which feeds 6 to 8 people. At that point, I think we've moved solidly into cake territory, but it still has the cute look of a cupcake.
We ordered three Signature size cupcakes to share. My choice was the Cookie Dough. B chose the Raspberry Swirl. For the third, the cashier said that the Good Guy was like "Funfetti gone crazy." There are few things on this planet that I love more than Funfetti, so the choice was easy.
To make for a perfect morning that matched one love with another, we walked home to eat cupcakes and watch Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns on Soapnet. I have to say that while the cupcakes were pretty good, the most memorable part of the experience was watching the West Bev clan tackle race relations (in awesomely terrible outfits) when Vivica A. Fox and family (also in terrible outfits) moved from Inglewood to the Walsh hood. I don't know whether this shows that the cupcakes weren't mind blowing or that this episode was truly a masterpiece. Probably a bit of both.
The cupcakes were fun to try but they haven't torn me away from my sworn devotion to Baked and Wired. The fun cookie dough and Funfetti flavors on top weren't carried through to the cake. For example, the cookie dough cupcake had a nice shot of chocolate ganache in the middle but no cookie flavor to be found once you worked your way past the frosting. I don't know if cookie dough chunks would be possible in a cupcake, but that's what I was hoping for. Overall, it was a bit too much party on top and a bit too little substance underneath. Sort of like Steve Sanders and his curly-topped mullet... Anyway, the wacky flavors and unique sizes will probably draw me back when I'm looking for a last minute item to bring to a party.
If you want to check it out for yourself, Crumbs will be giving away 1,000 free cupcakes on Friday, November 19th!
Second Thoughts from B
I'm no cupcake expert (even though I play one on the interwebs - see our Great Cupcake Taste Test of 2009), but I will say that Crumbs stands out above the masses. Look, every single bake shop, coffee house, ice cream parlor, pet food supplier, fast food joint, car wash, hardware store, dive bar, sushi house, and hair stylist is selling cupcakes these days. OK, I may have made a few of those up, but the point is that there are a lot of options out there.
So how can you possibly differentiate yourself (other than a reality show that is as over-hyped as your product)? I'd like to say that I can detect the subtle difference between a good cupcake and a great one, but the fact of the matter is that they usually fall into one of two categories: eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head great or "not worth the calories" (read: still good but I'd rather have something else).
J mentioned the variety at Crumbs. Unlike other cupcake makers, any flavor or size combination can be met. Smart move. I'd much rather get a cupcake in my favorite flavor from my second favorite bakery than a flavor I don't like as much from the best bakery in town.
And then we get to value. Putting aside any comparisons to the $1.99 versions at Giant (or those cupcake making hardware stores), these were noticeably larger but not noticeably more expensive than the competition.
So what's the bottom line? We still love Baked and Wired in Georgetown and Hello Cupcake in Dupont, but when there are 47 untasted varieties of pure caloric joy just a couple blocks from our house and next to our favorite Metro station (Metro Center), I think we might have a new favorite destination.