I know, I know. The cupcake revolution has passed. It’s all about doughnuts. Momofuku soft-serve. Dessert Trucks.
I get it.
If that’s true, why must I step around snaking queues of eager patrons outside of every Magnolia location?
Because the cupcake is still on–whether you like it or not.
Magnolia, the quintessential cupcake purveyor of the city, has had its chance to cultivate a new post-Sex and the City Manhattanite clientele. Instead, they’ve chosen to cater to tourists without discerning palates, who are, more likely than not, cupcake shop virgins. The novelty of it all.
Well, Magnolia is spreading its wings and landing in Grand Central’s Feeding Area. Their new location will overtake the Little Pie Company (overpriced and underwhelming), a few steps from the Two Boots counter. An ideal audience.
That doesn’t mean I’ll go there … even though I love that Two Boots counter.
It’s a Love Story
Goody Bathtub and I visited the original Magnolia on Bleecker Street. It was nearly empty, eerie. The serve-yourself style at Magnolia works well on quiet days, even though I sometimes catch customers groping for chocolate frosted vanilla cakes with their bare fingers. Shudder.
Having tried all of their cakes, I selected what I consider to be their ultimate creation: the vanilla-vanilla ($2.50 each). Ordinarily, a boring choice, but Magnolia has found their balance in this cupcake. The chocolate frosting boasts a sweetness that pains my face to swallow–too much confectioners sugar? And their chocolate cake tastes dry and stale.
In contrast, the vanilla cake wasn’t too sweet. It didn’t steal from the frosting’s perfection, but finely complemented it. At Magnolia, one cupcake is more than enough.
Also, I like the decorative (and, obviously, edible) sprinkles.
Another Menu to Burn
Goody Bathtub ordered the legendary Banana Pudding ($4.50 for small, $5.50 for large). It’s not what your grandmother makes. Think of the thickest, creamiest pudding parfait you’ve ever had. Add whipped cream, Nilla wafers, and freshly sliced bananas. Sounds good, right?
It is …. but because Magnolia makes vats of the stuff well in advance the bananas change and infuse their sugary ripeness further into the pudding, thus–in my mind, at least–corrupting the velvety pudding mixture. It’s best when fresh. (Try making it here.)
Please take this warning: Do not, under any circumstance, visit the Magnolia in Rockefeller Center. Madness^25. They have three ordering areas: Beverages, Non-cupcake confections, Cupcakes. The space can’t be bigger than my living room and most people are so thrilled to finally experience Magnolia that they’re willing to trample over innocents such as myself.
So they’ve gotten in the line for beverages but want a dozen cupcakes? Why not storm forward and push patient patrons up against the ineffective (and harsh) glass partition at the cupcake area!
Tied Together With (or Without) a Smile
Magnolia’s Magnolia. No denying that. But they’re not the best in the city. Sugar Sweet Sunshine is number one in my book, but there’s cupcake shops I haven’t tried. If you know of any, please tell me. I’m dying to try something new.
You live in the city? Yeah, take your out-of-towners to Magnolia. “This is the one from Sex and the City,” they’ll giggle as they step up to the line on 11th Street. It’s worth $2.50, for sure. I’ll give it that much.Magnolia Bakery various locations