photo: Courtesy of Nick Flandro
If you've never been to Cindy Levine's adorable sweets shop on Webster, go now. It is the happiest, warmest, most delicious old-fashioned comfort shop in Chicago. The yellow walls bounce off bright, cumbersome baby strollers and the exasperated staff never seems take it out on the frenzied customers. They're all chillin' behind the counter, just whipping up homemade cakes and thick, creamy frosting, with not a care in the world. They seem to have a turtle's patience…I mean, can you imagine hundreds of full-blown adults freaking out about cupcakes, snickerdoodle cookies, banana pudding cups and mini-cheesecakes all day long? Sorry to letcha know, I'm right there with them.
I usually go for the moist chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with butter cream frosting (umm, it's pretty easy to shove down about a half dozen of these lovelies) and the mini-melt-in-your-mouth cheesecakes with fresh blueberries. Both are insanely lush and make any other fancy desserts (sorry Tru) seem like the small time (merely peanuts). There is nothing in the world like real desserts, made in a down-home kitchen and Sweet Mandy's manages to make me feel like I am back on the mountain licking the pudding from the bowl with my nubby, little fingers (well, scooping the pudding with my entire hands is more like it).
On top of all the cakes being the fluffiest ever (try the decadent chocolate layer cake), the cookies are big, chewy and soft and I can't rave enough about the dense coconut cream pie. (Yep, my sweets buddy, Lisa, and I have been known to eat the entire mini-pie in-house.) The cake plate whoopee pies are full of creamy joy and the coconut macaroons taste like they are straight out of a Parisian bakery. Oh, and all of the fruit pies that litter the counter top are usually still bubbling if you get there early enough in the day. Sheer bliss.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Misty Tosh