Food - Glutton at Large: Cake
Satisfy the craving at Landmark Diner, Piece of Cake, Southern Sweets Bakery, the General Muir, and Wright's Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe
When was the last time you had an awesome slice of old-fashioned cake? The kind someone dear to you might have made on special occasions with layers and fluffy frosting. Or the slice you always ordered at your favorite childhood restaurant. Nothing elaborate or fancy, just good cake and icing. A white cake with white frosting from Publix will do in a pinch, but what about when you want something more homey? It was tough investigative work, but I did the research and found Atlanta's best bets for good cake. Atlanta only has a few of the tried-and-true diners you'll find in New York City. Despite its mixed-bag reputation, Landmark Diner (3652 Roswell Road, 404-816-9090, and other metro Atlanta locations) has staying power. It was the type of place my friends and I went after clubbing at MJQ way back when for a huge platter of food to counteract all the drinks. Now, we go for the 6-inch-tall cakes. The first thing you notice when you enter the shiny silver building is the long dessert display case packed with almost every cake imaginable. My favorite is the chocolate layer cake, a big 'un made with layers of cheesecake, chewy brownie, soft chocolate cake, ganache, and more. It is so rich and large, it took me two whole days to take down one slice. Another favorite is the German chocolate cake with rich and buttery coconut frosting pumped between layers of not-too-sweet chocolate cake. All of Landmark's cakes are available whole if you call ahead. You can also have whatever you like written on it. (Slice: $5.99-$6.99; Whole: $40-$45)
Since it opened in 1985, Piece of Cake (3215 Roswell Road, 404-351-2253, and other metro Atlanta locations) has kept Atlantans happy and fat with its assortment of sliced cake. On any given day, there are six to eight types of grab-and-go slices. The same flavors are also available in mini and regular cupcakes. Seasonal flavors, such as the intensely pink, sweet, and tangy strawberry cake with cream cheese icing, are the most popular. Caramel cakes are tricky to do well. Unless the frosting is prepared just right, the resulting texture can be like eating sand. Here, the layers of yellow cake stay moist and the creamy caramel frosting is almost as intense as a dulce de leche. You can order cakes online for pick up or ship one anywhere in the country for a price ($10 for local delivery). The only rub is the cakery will not personalize, so you'll need to bust out your piping bag when you get your cake home. (Slice: $5.50; Whole: $26-$34.50)
No trip to Your DeKalb Farmers Market is complete without a visit to nearby Southern Sweets Bakery (186 Rio Circle, Decatur, 404-373-8752) for a sandwich or, better yet, a slice of cake. The family-owned bakery has been open since 1992. Despite its location in an industrial park, the bakery and restaurant has a loyal fan base that turns to it for their party needs. The German chocolate is nearly perfect. It's moist and intensely chocolatey. The tiramisu cake takes everything you love about the classic Italian dessert — booze, coffee, and cream — and loads it into an eight-layer cake. A short list of cakes are available sugar-free or vegan and the bakery does do weddings and personalizations. Call ahead for appointments and large orders. (Slice: $4.40-$6.60; Whole: $23.50-$48.50)
While I love making a meal out of an indulgent pastrami-covered poutine with crazy-good chicken gravy or a basic turkey sandwich, the main reason I find myself visiting the General Muir (1540 Avenue Place, Suite B-230, 678-927-9131) is for dessert to go. As CL has written before, the cheesecake is Atlanta's best, especially when it is the chocolate cheesecake and regular cheesecake hybrid with a thick layer of German chocolate cake-style coconut icing on top. According to chef Todd Ginsberg, they are introducing a six-inch version of the original soon. One of the General Muir's newest cakes, the Brooklyn Blackout cake, is so fantastic it launched my household into a weeklong cake binge. Ginsberg says it's the sea salt, caramel, and Oreo cookie powder that make the towering dark chocolate cake so addictive. Each of the constantly revolving cake selections is available as a whole with advance notice. (Slice: $6; Whole: $40-$60)
On my birthday every year, I request a cake from Wright's Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe (5482 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, 770-396-7060). The Dunwoody lunch destination has an enormous menu of 18 sandwiches, but I always come for a slice of cake. The glistening lemon pound cake is rife with fresh lemon and a little crunchy layer of glaze for contrast. The coconut cake and chocolate cake have become my benchmarks for each. The coconut cake has coconut milk in the batter, which adds a super-intense coconut flavor and also keeps it moist for days — not that it ever lasts that long. The frosting isn't your standard cream cheese and coconut mixture. Instead, it's a fluffy buttercream packed with flaked coconut. The chocolate layer cake is intensely chocolatey and the frosting is light and sweet. If you are in a pinch, the Shoppe stocks whole cakes you can grab and go. (Slice: $2.25-$4.25; Whole: $23-$32).