Located in an attractive sidestreet near the famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto you could almost walk by Love at First Bite without noticing – unless of course you were a foodie who thinks “hmm, I bet I have room for a cupcake” every time you see a new bake shop – especially one advertising “made with love and other fine ingredients.” Reading their dialogue inside the shop (and on the website) stating “we make our baked goods from scratch, using premium ingredients including Madagascar bourbon and Mexican vanillas, Saigon cinnamon, Guittard, Callebaut and Schokinag chocolates and cocoa, and real butter, milk and eggs from local dairies” and having skipped dessert at the disastrous Chez Panisse café I couldn’t help but try one…or two.
Unpretentious and attractive on the inside, I quite liken this place to Yummy cupcakes in Santa Monica and Magnolia in New York in that the owner was present and I could see the team mixing flour, butter, eggs, and ingredients in the back room right before my eyes while the cupcakes were being pulled out of ovens and placed on pedestals near the window. Reading the online menu it appears I only saw a fraction of what Love at First Bite had to offer (thank goodness, else my 2 cupcake order may have turned into a dozen.)
With prices better than Miette, Citizen Cake, or even Kara’s (not to mention Sprinkles, Crumbs, and Vanilla) and equal or large cakes, I opted for the Red Velvet and the Mud Pie – and almost ordered a slice of the banana pudding, but refrained when I saw the massive size served to a customer in front of me.
The Red Velvet was fantastic and sits at #2 on my all-time list – just behind the impossibly perfect version that I received warm from the oven at Bouchon Bakery Las Vegas. The most chocolately yet airy cake topped with a fragrant (rose water vs. lavender?) cream cheese frosting – pure bliss in a cupcake. I found the red-hot on top to be particularly cute, although unnecessary.
The second cupcake, Mudpie, was actually fresh from the oven and still warm – and absolutely wonderful. Chocolate Devils food, mocha frosting with a hint of coffee flavor, and topped with Oreo cookie crumbles – at half the price of Citizen Cake’s Mocha Mi Su, this cupcake bested it in texture, taste, and overall appeal – it even tasted more “tiramisu-like” than the CC item, despite not trying to do so.
When it was all said and done, my sweet tooth was satisfied, though after tasting the wonderful cakes I almost wish I’d have gotten a collection of mini’s instead. Not overloaded with frosting like some, not dry and boring like others, plus a friendly owner and none of those asinine lines you deal with at Magnolia or Sprinkles? Sounds good to me. Next time – Chocolate Malt Ball, Monkey Love, PB Affair, and Hummingbird will get their place in the spotlight of my palate.