Saturday, August 6, 2011
If you ask someone in Chicago about cupcake places, the first places that will probably be named will be More, Sprinkles, Swirlz, or possibly Flirty Cupcakes. They are all very good in their own way and most (More, Sprinkles, and Flirty) have cupcake trucks to expand their exposure and to sell more cupcakes. However, if you are in East Lakeview you must try Phoebe's Cupcakes. Their space is small and the area that they are located is full of places that will easily draw you in if you are not making a dedicated trip but you should really make a dedicated trip. Their menu contains over 200 flavors but they only make about 12 to 15 flavors in any given week. They will make a flavor that is not on the weekly menu by special order. Most of the flavors that were on the weekly menu when I went in looked pretty good but I did limit myself to 6 and they were all at least pretty good.
While I say that most of the cupcakes looked pretty good, there were a few that were a foregone conclusion for buying. The first was called the Breakfast Cupcake. It is a maple-soaked, buttermilk cupcake with maple butter frosting and a strip of bacon to top it off. While the buttermilk cake and the maple flavoring evoke breakfast, the bacon brings it all together (Everything is better with bacon). Admittedly, it isn't the best cupcake with bacon that I have ever had but it is still very good. Next we have Death By Chocolate which was a thick and dense chocolate cake with fudgy chocolate frosting and topped with chocolate chips. There is no such thing as too much chocolate so this was very good as well. The last of the cupcakes that I had to have was the Salted Caramel. It is a vanilla cupcake soaked in housemade caramel with a caramel buttercream frosting topped with Himalayan sea salt. There is really something to be said about how well the sweet, salty, and buttery flavors of the caramel and salt combine.
The next cupcakes looked good, sounded interesting, and all tasted pretty good. The first of these was the Raspberry Latte, an espresso cake with a raspberry buttercream and topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean. While I liked this cupcake, the coffee flavor is pretty strong and isn't for everyone even with the raspberry frosting cutting some of the bitterness. Next was the Peanut Butter Fudgy Brownie. This is a chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese top and peanut butter butter cream frosting topped with chocolate chips. While I liked it, I am not sure if it was really that clear as to what it was aiming for. It seemed like a combination Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, a chocolate cheesecake, and seemed to have some bitterness to it. It was good but I can't say it was great. The last cupcake was probably my favorite of the second tier. It was the Blue Moon Cupcake and as you can see from the picture, it's pretty blue. The cupcake is pineapple and Blue Curaçao flavored, uses blue buttercream frosting, and tastes just like Blue Moon ice cream.
Even if Phoebe's isn't one of the more well known cupcake shops in Chicago, they still make very good cupcakes and are a good place to remember if you are in the neighborhood. Their flavor combinations are very creative and they use quality ingredients. They also do shipping through UPS. While I don't travel to that neighborhood often, I now have something that makes it worth the trip.