Magnolia Bakery - 212 462 2572 - 401 Bleecker Street

UPDATE (11/5/04): Starting about a year ago we could not help noticing a decline in the quality of the cakes, particularly the German chocolate cake, at Magnolia Bakery. The flavor was less intense, and the cake was less dense and moist than it had been. We assumed that this was a situation of Homer nodding, but our more recent visits have confirmed the slow decline of this once excellent establishment. Was it a flight of talent to Buttercup Bake Shop? We don't know. Perhaps Homer is just nodding, but we won't know for another visit or two.

The Magnolia Bakery is an unusual mix of a West Village commune and a down home Southern style bakery. They make the sorts of multi-layer cakes you read about in Southern novels and never expected to find anywhere, let alone across the street from the Biography Book Store.

To put it simply, they make the best German chocolate cake we, and quite likely, anyone else, has ever eaten. The chocolate layers are rich with cocoa and the caramel flavored icing is full of gooey coconut. You'll wish you had a spare set of molars. The boiled icing on the coconut cake is lighter than air. The hummingbird cake bursts with cinnamon and clove and other old fashioned spices, muted only slightly by the rich cream cheese icing.

Don't be fazed by the lines running around the block. Once inside, you will be served with high speed precision. They can ice an espresso in seconds. Of course, you may find yourself speechless, surrounded by the broad array of sweets and goodies. Ever since Rigo's closed a few years ago, we have been searching for a replacement. Magnolia is now number one in our book.

NOTE (10/25/01): For those who are further uptown or want to order a whole cake, check out the Buttercup Bake Shop at 973 Second Avenue (51st - 212 350 4144). It is run by the founder of Magnolia Bakery.

NOTE(3/24/01): Those of you who noticed a warning of potential problems at Magnolia that we had printed last month may rest assured that we have investigated the matter and can now say with the confidence of satisfied gluttony that Magnolia Bakery is as wonderful as ever. A sampling of six different cakes and a conversation with the staff convinced us that the person who emailed the negative feedback based on a cake that she had had shipped to her had NOT shopped at Magnolia. The latter does not ship cakes at all as they are not equipped to deal with that level of demand. We believe that the emailer bought her cake from another bakery. Magnolia still reigns supreme among NYC bakeries.

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