The scene: From outside just after 6 p.m. on a Wednesday night, the windows of Creme Cupcake glow. Inside, the atmosphere is one of earthy romanticism. Hardwood floors and a bar in the urban industrial-style create a feel that is at once relaxing and modern. My happy-hour companion and I needed no convincing to settle in at a table with window seats posthaste.
Looking around, the rows of cupcakes frosted in soft pinks and deep chocolates immediately tempt the eye, but Creme Cupcake’s new winter menu ensures customers don’t have to sacrifice their New Year’s resolutions to enjoy decadent desserts, appetizers and drinks.
The latest menu debuted in mid-January and features healthier additions from the low sugar cream puffs to the savory chevre and beet cheesecake. For owner Christina Moffatt, adding the healthier choices was a key factor in maintaining steady traffic through the winter months.
“I think it’s because people realize they can go out and have something and not feel guilty about it,” Moffatt said.
What we got: During happy hour — from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday — dinners will find two new light bites and four new cocktails: the crushed strawberry fizz, honey mimosa, brazil 66 and blue spring oolong tea collins.
My companion and I started with drinks. I ordered the honey mimosa, which delivered a smoother rendition of a traditional mimosa, and with a color gradient from apricot to buttercup yellow, was as appealing to look at as it was to drink. My companion selected the blue spring oolong tea collins made with Broker’s gin, oolong tea, simple syrup, lemon and club soda. It delivered a subtle and refreshing tea aftertaste akin to a mellow Asian-influenced Arnold Palmer.
Next up were the light bites. We sampled both the house tortilla chips with fruit salsa and the pretzel bites with dipping sauces.
Tossed in sugar and salt, the chips will satisfy both savory and sweet-inclined palates and read more like crispy pastries than chips. Dipped in the fruit salsa — made with watermelon and honeydew — they provided a clean segue into the cuisine-dominated portion of the night. While the chips and salsa were refreshing, the house pretzel bites, with their delicately spiced mustard, were a table favorite.
Beyond happy hour: Four out of the 10 winter desserts are lower-calories options. From the chocolate raspberry pavlova, the low sugar cream puffs, the savory chevre and beet cheesecake and the Caribbean spice crepes, we chose the cream puffs and cheesecake.
No smidgen of gluttony is sacrificed with the low sugar cream puffs for $9. The two pastry puffs filled with sugar free whipped cream sit on a layer of chocolate ganache and are joined by strawberries, oranges and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Having low-sugar or no-sugar choices on the menu remains important for Moffatt, whose father and brother have diabetes.
The savory chevre and beet cheesecake for $10 offers a heartier alternative for those looking for a more vitamin-laden meal. The creamed chevre cheese, with cubed beets over drizzled honey and garnished with powdered sugar is fluffy yet thick. It creates an innovative and layered flavor profile appealing even to the 6-year-olds at heart, who don’t normally opt for vegetables on a night out.
Other specials: During happy hour all wine is $5, and diners can take advantage of $1 off beer normally priced at $5.
Worth leaving work early for: The bread lovers won’t forgive themselves if they leave without tasting the house pretzel bites. For the more adventurous, the savory chevre and beet cheesecake is equally delicious. Any of the five cocktails for $5 will provide a light, effervescent complement.