Last month I took a break from the holiday baking craziness and visited Georgetown Cupcake with my coworker. This was a belated stop on my DC cupcake odyssey, which started with my review of Hello Cupcake soon after its opening, and continued with my CakeLove review back in October.
I had my doubts about Georgetown Cupcake, because all I’ve heard is how great they are (after all, isn’t that the biggest criticism of Cake Love? That it’s all hype and no cake?). And I was annoyed that The Washington Post didn’t really “review” so much as “drool over” their cupcakes during the Cupcake Wars.
For those of you who don’t know the story, Georgetown Cupcake is DC’s first cupcake shop, and was founded by sister baking team Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne. Considering that the DC area now has three cupcake-only establishments (Hello Cupcake, Georgetown Cupcake, Lavender Moon Cupcakery) and recently added a fourth (Red Velvet Cupcakery), it’s pretty shocking that DC’s oldest cupcakery opened back in February 2008, less than a year ago.
My coworker and I went to Georgetown Cupcake on a Friday night in December. Georgetown’s streets were less crowded than usual due to the upcoming holidays, but there was almost a line out Georgetown Cupcake’s door. The store at 1209 Potomac St. N, just off M street, isn’t much bigger than a cupcake box, with just one table that served as a bag-dropping station while customers placed their orders. If you’re looking for a place to have your cupcake and eat it too, then head across the street to Dean and Deluca.
The cupcakes were beautifully displayed on different cake stands, adding to the fairy-tale charm of the store. I had planned to only buy two cupcakes, but the spirit overtook me and I ordered up a whole half dozen: the Red Velvet, Chocolate2, Chocolate3, Vanilla, Vanilla and Chocolate, and Carrot Cake.
I was pretty much won over the moment I saw the beautiful presentation—the cakes were small, just peeking over the edge of their wrappers, with nary a muffin top in site. The frosting was perfectly piped in appealing swirls, and the fondant decorations were perfectly centered. From the presentation alone I could tell that this sister baking team cares deeply about its craft. And according to The Washington Post, the sisters pipe the frosting onto every cupcake themselves, which may be why they looked so pretty.
And as for the cupcakes themselves? I was absolutely blown away. First off, the cake is exactly what I’m looking for in a cupcake—it’s extremely light and tender, with the moistness of an oil cake, but the full flavor of a butter cake. The flavors were rich and deep—the vanilla cupcake tasted like it was infused with vanilla beans, and the chocolate cupcake tasted like the cake version of a chocolate bar.
But my favorite part was the frosting, which I liked even more than the cake, and has taken hold in my mind as a Platonic, ideal version of frosting. It was extremely light and fluffy, and free of that teeth-shocking sweetness that frostings often have. The flavors were intense and balanced. The vanilla frosting really tasted like vanilla beans, and the cream cheese frosting was the perfect balance of sweet and tang, lightness and flavor.
The chocolate frosting had a deep, rich chocolate flavor that rivaled that of a ganache, but without being as heavy. I’ll admit that the chocolate frosting was so intensely chocolatey that it completely overwhelmed the vanilla cake in the Vanilla-Chocolate cupcake, but is that such a horrible thing? My favorites were the Vanilla Squared (vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, simple but extremely well done) and the Chocolate Squared (chocolate cake with Chocolate ganache).
Can you tell that the cupakes completely won me over? It’s no wonder, with this really fabulous product, that Georgetown Cupcake has become a DC media darling. Not only did they win the Washington Post Cupcake Wars, (and, by the way, they even gave out the recipe for the Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes), but they’ve appeared on the Martha Stewart Show and have been favorable reviewed in the New York Times.
The only thing that could have improved my experience was the customer service. It’s possible that it was an off night when I was there, but the cashiers seemed much more interested in gossiping than getting the huge line of customers taken care of. Considering that Georgetown Cupcake’s branding promises a chic, professional, and “couture” product, the service didn’t quite fit with their carefully crafted brand.
Still, I’m now a big fan of Georgetown Cupcake and I can’t wait to go back. You heard it here, folks—this is no CakeLove. Some things really can live up to the hype.