Spectacular-looking cakes occupy the cases of Cupcake Café: great cylindrical layer cakes enrobed in multi-colored frosting in the shape of sunflowers, peonies, and lilacs. Proprietor Ann Warren is known for her chocolate cake with mocha icing, decorated to fit whatever occasion you need to celebrate. Lovely as the big frosted beauties appear, they are not what draw us to this corner bake shop west of Times Square just down from the Port Authority terminal. We come to Cupcake Café for simple pleasures: donuts, muffins, whole apple pies (double crust or streusel-topped), and – need we say it? – cupcakes.
Coffee cake is egg-rich and cream-textured, made with a sheet of apple topping, blueberries, or plain and cut into hefty squares that are a grand but simple morning pastry. The donuts are plain as can be: perfect-circle cake donuts with a crunch to their skin and dense insides well-suited for dunking. There are always buttermilk donuts; among the other available varieties are pumpkin, whole wheat orange, and glazed. On weekends only, the waffle irons are pulled off the high shelf behind the counter; and if you don’t mind waiting a while, they are one of the great, cheap mid-town breakfasts.
Dining at the Cupcake Café is a true New York experience. It is a tiny old storefront with wooden floor, tin ceiling, and pink paint on the walls; and while much business is take out, there are four scattered tables and some rickety chairs across from the order counter. Here you can spend a morning over cake and coffee while observing the ebb and flow of New York pastry connoisseurs at the counter.
(At lunch, the Cupcake Café offers a limited menu of soup, sandwiches, and small pizzas.)