Wednesday, April 21, 2010
With few good restaurants, a bunch of fratty bars, and a mile-long disaster zone of cranes and dump trucks that is the start of the 12-year dig to build the Second Avenue subway line, the Yorkville neighborhood in which I live is one of the least charming neighborhoods in Manhattan right now. When I want to do anything more interesting than a couple of pints at the local bars, I find myself venturing over to the more hip neighborhoods of Manhattan.
But there is one area where Yorkville does beat all other neighborhoods. The Upper East Side lays claim to one of the most sought after prizes in all the isle, and that is the award for having best cupcake in all of Manhattan. Yes, the best cupcake in Manhattan is well north of 14th street-- 72 blocks, to be exact-- and is right smack in the middle of the Second Avenue Subway construction at Two Little Red Hens bakery. The sidewalk outside the storefront is fenced in--this ain't your quaint little West Village street-- but walk in and I promise you will be able to forget the eyesore that lies all around. Country in feel, Two Little Red Hens makes you forget that you're in Manhattan, much less the destruction that has become of my neighborhood.
As for the baked goods, just about everything I have tried at Two Little Red Hens, from the chocolate chunk cookies to the chocolate pudding pie is excellent, but you must try the cupcakes. They are everything that I dream of in a cupcake and hit all the notes that most other Manhattan bakeries miss. They fit comfortably in the palm of the hand and are not so big that I feel sick after eating one. The cake part is wonderfully moist and has tons of flavor whether you go for the chocolate or yellow (I'm a yellow man). The cream icing does exactly what icing should do; it complements the cake and is not cloyingly sweet.
Best of all, my neighborhood bakery is free of gimmicks; a sinfully rich Brooklyn Blackout cupcake filled with chocolate pudding is as far as the bakery strays from the standard-issue yellow cake with chocolate icing. Two Little Red Hens needs no trendy address, funky toppings, Carrie Bradshaw touts, or teenybopper shouts. It gets the job done in boring old Yorkville. Kind of fitting that the best cupcake comes from the least trendy of bakeries, isn't it?
Two Little Red Hens
1652 Second Ave. (at 86th St.)
New York, NY 10028