I'm always on the hunt for new bakeries, especially near Serious Eats World Headquarters, so I'd been eagerly awaiting the opening of Lulu Cake Boutique in Chelsea. And I've made quite a few visits over the last two weeks.
What I found? A bakery that does classic French pastries and updated American goodies and cakes equally well.
A pain au chocolat ($2.75), even several hours out of the oven, was light and flaky and easy to enjoy; a cheese danish ($2.75) was equally well made, though it could've used a bit more cheese filling. And an apple streusel muffin was delicious in the way of coffee cake, with just the right balance of crumbly, buttery streusel and tender-crumbed muffin.
And though oversized baked goods tend to be terrible, Lulu's enormous scones didn't suck at all. Only the blueberry scone ($2.75), light and brimming with blueberries, could be described as stellar; a chocolate chip scone ($2.75) was moist, but heavy, and a little too hard on the outside, while an iced raisin scone ($2.75) was a bit dense, with more icing than was necessary.
As for the daytime sweets? We weren't sure if a chocolate chip cookie ($2.50) was more of a cookie or a bittersweet chocolate bar interspersed with cookie dough—but we scarfed it down. The cupcakes showed off Lulu's way with all kinds of cake: the vanilla with chocolate icing ($2.75) had cake that was moist and delicious and almost light, with bittersweet chocolate icing that's smooth and intensely fudgy. A chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing ($2.75) was a crazy chocolate-y concoction—though both had the frosting-to-cake ratio out of whack, with way too much icing.
Of the treats we tried, the best may have been the housemade yodels ($4.50)—chocolate sponge cake rolled with whipped cream and coated in dark chocolate icing. Many bakeries have tried to raise the bar on yodels, and Lulu succeeds.
There were no house-baked Twinkies to be had when I went. and in fact the cake case was totally empty the first time I stopped by—cleared out thanks to Flo Fab's mention in the Times this month. But we returned for a birthday cake several days later. The "Glazey River" (6", $35) had a creme fraiche yellow cake—improbably moist and flavorful—with thick layers of hazelnut buttercream and sweet shards of praline atop the dark chocolate glaze. While we found this cake totally overwhelmed by the buttercream, both elements were undeniably delicious.
Lulu, we will be back.