Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review: Crumbs Bakeshop

So it's finally here.  After much hype and controversy, New York's Crumbs Bakeshop opened its first area location last week in Penn Quarter.

Why the hype? Well, in addition to the local population still collapsing into conniptions at the mention of cupcakes, Crumbs was giving away a whopping 1,000 free cupcakes for their opening on the 19th, and they also bring a novelty yet to be seen at any other local cupcake shop: sizes.  Not just mini vs. standard, but 4 different sizes ranging from mini to "colossal," meant to be shared by up to 4 people. Or just yourself. I won't judge.

So, why the controversy? Because, up to now, our DC-area cupcakeries on the whole are single shop start-ups, run by area residents.  Hence the controversy of a large, well-established chain of outsiders plunking down their bakery in the middle of the DC cupcake scene after allowing it to become established and flourish through the hard work of DMV bakers and entrepreneurs.  However, I was prepared to love Crumbs. Despite myself, and my feelings about local businesses, I had heard that Crumbs specialized in somewhat exotic flavors--my siren song when it comes to cupcakes.
I should have known better.

My fellow cupcake taster and I arrived on November 20th, a day after the 1000-cupcake-giveaway-opening-day-bonanza, and what I thought would be a safe day to avoid the madness. Wrong.  Apparently a portion of those 1000 cupcakes had come out of their next day's supply because, when we arrived, there were only a few flavors left in the case, and all of them were in the "Signature"/grapefruit size or larger.  Minutes after we arrived, a line of at least 10 or more formed quickly behind us and out the door.  Though there were two employees behind the counter, they both proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes making ONE latte while everyone in line became very confused about where/how to order. After needing to shout our order from the crowd once we were finally helped, my friend and I chose a pre-packed selection of 12 minis, rather than trying to gorge ourselves on the few seemingly steroid-enhanced cakes left in the case.  This pack cost $18.  That's right.  1. 8. $.

As for the cupcakes themselves, I can really only recommend what we called "the ding-dong looking one."  It was delicious, with an excellent chocolate ganache.  Also, the jam-filled raspberry swirl was unique, as well as the chocolate chip and oreo cookie versions.  Other than that, the rest of these cakes were rather dry, with the same vanilla frosting used on every cake (even the red velvet, and "mint" chocolate).  I can also say that the vanilla filled with chocolate cream cheese earns the infamous title of the only cupcake I have never been able to finish.

There's a reason I point all of this out. Because, normally, I am extremely forgiving of new restaurants at opening, because it takes time to work out the kinks. But, if you have been in business for 7 years and feel superior enough to plunk your popsicle stand down in the middle of someone else's game--you had better have your shite together. And Crumbs does not.


  1. way to tell it like it is.

  2. I second that. As your fellow "cupcake tester." :-)

  3. Sprinkles is going to open in Georgetown in January, adding to the already huge cupecake trend. Thanks for the review. With a shop opening soon in Clarendon I hope Crumbs can get it together! They did look cute though.