Vernon Smith's smiling face will greet you from the outside and inside of Sweet Cakes, and his kindly grin alone could probably sell a customer. But once Vern takes care of you and gets the goods, it's his daughter Emily's baked treats that will keep you coming back for more.
Several tables are available for groups, or settle in with the paper at the counter facing the big bay window. An ever-changing array of scones, brioches, bagels, brownies, cookies and more run from 2-3 dollars. A cheese tomato biscuit may be replaced by a black pepper and parmesan brioche (although favorites tend to stick around). Casteel coffee and Rishi tea are available, as well as hot chocolate.
Cakes can be special ordered in sizes from 4-10 inches, including a flourless chocolate cake. Resting neatly on plates in their own private cooler are the kings of the Sweet Cakes baked good empire – the cupcakes. Sitting tall with big lips and grand hats of frosting, the variety includes mint chocolate chip, butterscotch, carrot cake with white chocolate cream cheese, and whatever else tickles the baker's fancy that day. A mini costs $1.25, and a large $2.25, or you can buy them by the box (and work out a deal with the devil or your dietician later). A number of the cupcakes (and other products) are vegan, but are not labeled as such - make sure to ask.
The store also has some unexpected items for sale behind the scenes. Ruth and Phil's gourmet ice cream is for sale from the freezer. And shared-space neighbors Caesar's operate mostly out of the back, but has a small counter in the rear where you can order some of their famous pierogis.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Dan Morgridge