Thursday, January 3, 2013
It's hard not to feel cheerful when walking into Gobble Cakes on College Avenue in Blacksburg.
The walls are a happy shade of pink, and the first views are of the cupcake boutique's shiny kitchen and baked goods display. Dozens of cupcakes with spires of icing and artful garnishes are eye-pleasingly arranged on serving tiers. Both the kitchen window and a huge mirror give the illusion of a larger space - a good choice, as it is tight quarters inside.
Each time I visited, I was greeted with a friendly welcome and served with patience as I took my time agonizing over which of the 11 available flavors to choose. All of the cupcakes are $3 , or you can pick a baker's dozen for $36. Flavors change seasonally. Cupcakes also get their own changing seasonal nicknames such as "The Grinch" for a fun spin.
Two friends came along with me for one afternoon visit to sample a trio of cupcakes. I also ordered a cup of tea ($1.75), which turned out to be a disappointingly generic tea bag and a cup of hot water. Seating was tricky, as there were three of us, and only two chairs fit in each of four window niches. I finally settled for perching on a window ledge.
We chose chocolate cupcakes, each with a different frosting. The cakes themselves were slightly, but not overly, dry. The frosting was the star of the show, in any case.
The peppermint was refreshing, with a bit of crunch from what appeared to be ground peppermint candy. The candy-cane garnish on top seemed extraneous but easy enough to set aside.
The chocolate was just that: a chocolate bomb of yumminess. The peanut butter was loveliest, incorporating a chocolate cup and peanut sprinkles at the top. Combined with the cake, it packed a peanut-butter-cup-flavored punch.
On a return trip, I picked four cupcakes - three new flavors plus one peanut butter - to share with my family, along with a cup of coffee. My server carefully packed the cakes into four hollows of a to-go box.
The coffee, like the tea, was disappointing: scorched and slightly bitter. Of the cupcakes, the pear cinnamon with amaretto cream cheese was my favorite. The cake was moist with little chunks of pear, and the frosting had enough, but not too much, amaretto.
The pumpkin/oatmeal cupcake with lemon/honey cream cheese was less pleasing. Crunchy bits of oatmeal in the dense cake were distracting, and I couldn't taste any lemon or honey. It was my youngest's favorite, though. The bananas foster was moist like a good banana bread, with the frosting lending a hint of cinnamon.
In short, to each their own delicious cupcake/frosting combination. I'm not sure I would return to dine in with more than one person because of the limited seating.
However, Gobble Cakes' treats would be a great addition to a special occasion, and a table for two is a sweet spot for a chat with a friend or loved one.