After a quick trip through the always bustling Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, we had some time to kill on Whyte before a matinee play, so we took the time to visit a few new additions to the neighbourhood.
An article in the Journal on Saturday pointed to the recent cupcake explosion on Whyte Ave – Flirt Cupcakes opened their doors in February, and Fuss Cupcakes followed with an Old Strathcona outpost that opened this past Wednesday. I have been pretty impressed by Flirt so far (I like their online ordering system, and their beautiful pink gift boxes), but to be fair, having met and interviewed the proprietors probably lends some bias in their direction.
Fuss has been in cupcake business at their flagship west end location (17298 Stony Plain Road) for nearly three years, and was originally known as The Cupcake Bakeshoppe & Cafe. I visited back in the fall of 2006, and was less than impressed with the cupcake – it had been refrigerated (a cupcake faux pas in my book), and the icing tasted artificial. I hadn’t been back to give them a second chance, which probably had more to do with their location than anything else, but was eager to see if they had improved their cupcakes during my time away.
Fuss Cupcakes interior
Fuss sets themselves apart from Flirt primarily by their distinction as being the only “nut free” cupcake bakery in the city, and by offering a large eat-in space. In addition to their cupcakes, Fuss also offers specialty coffees, teas, and floats. Branded merchandise was on sale, including this cheeky shirt:
There were handy color postcards next to the counter, listing the sixteen standard cupcake varieties offered daily. For the Mother’s Day long weekend, Fuss was offering an additional strawberry and chocolate ganache special.
I have to say Flirt does a better job with making their cupcakes look attractive to the customer – while Fuss definitely seemed to have an edge on ensuring a healthy supply of all flavours, I found their fluorescent-lit display a bit sterile and as Mack noted, made the cupcakes seem mass-produced.
At $2.95 a pop. Fuss shares Flirt’s price point per cupcake. We decided to get one each (to be consumed while waiting in line at the theatre) – The Diva (strawberry icing) for me, and The Flawless Carat (carrot cake with cream cheese icing) for Mack.
The clear clamshell definitely loses out to Flirt’s recyclable packaging, and Mack didn’t like that the cupcake wasn’t firmly held in its place, rolling around as we walked. We both really liked the moist and airy cake however (and I was happy to find that they were at room temperature). Mack’s carrot base had a nice cinnamon aroma throughout, while my vanilla cake had just the right amount of flavour. The icing-to-cake ratio was something to be desired though. Mack liked the icing, and said it was less sweet than Flirt. I found it all right, but as someone who would choose something other than buttercream every time, that was no surprise.
It will be interesting to see how the “cupcake war” plays out as the months get warmer, and each shop experiences a fair bit of foot traffic from both tourists and regulars alike.
Our next stop was Coney Island Candy (10345 82 Avenue), a shop we wouldn’t have seen had it not been for the sandwich board on the sidewalk.
Coney Island Candy
It’s a shop for the visual sense, that’s for sure, filled with fun carney-inspired posters and bright displays reminiscent of the 1920s midway at Fort Edmonton Park.
The shop steps in to fill the void left when Carol’s Quality Sweets was forced to relocate after the fire on Whyte Ave. With over 500 varieties of candy (continuously being added to), including over 200 bulk options, Coney Island is a kid’s dream.
Even better, Coney Island also stocks novelties perfect for gift giving – I’m sure I could have spent more time peering at the various displays, but I did spy bacon mints and bacon floss – the perfect present for any bacon lover.
Open since March, I’m sure Coney Island will continue to draw in the young, and the young at heart.
10441 82 Avenue NW
Coney Island Candy
10345 82 Avenue