The Cupcakery Boutique
That's Philly Cupcake's slogan, and it permeates the business. The interior is tiny and cute, and almost everything, from the small sitting area to the window displays, is cupcake-printed. When I entered the store, I was immediately greeted by an employee who handed me a menu and pointed to the cupcakes along the wall. Instead of using the typical glass-counter units favored by most bakeries, Philly Cupcake keeps its wares in pink-painted wall cabinets. While this looks neat and I love gorgeously presented food, these display cases feel a bit precious.
Philly Cupcake's prices are also boutique — $3 for standard cupcakes, and $4 for the special ones. Both the standard and special cupcakes are normal-cupcake size. This is great for eating — who really needs to consume an entire oversized cupcake? But the price is definitely on the steep side for Philadelphia. To compare with other cupcake shops, Brown Betty's large cupcakes are $3 each, and the regular-size cupcakes from the Buttercream Cupcake Truck are $2.
I tried three cupcakes from Philly Cupcake: a vanilla bean with chocolate buttercream icing, a cookies and cream and a vegan peanut butter and jelly. All three were lovely and meticulously frosted, but much like my ensuing sugar high, they also had ups and downs.
Vanilla Bean with Chocolate Buttercream: The vanilla cupcake was good — pretty moist, with a nice vanilla flavor and bean specks throughout. The frosting, however, was disappointing. I wouldn't have known that it was supposed to be chocolate if I hadn't read the sign next to the cupcake. The consistency was wonderful — light and creamy — but it tasted more like sugar more than any particular flavor.
Cookies and Cream: This cupcake came with half of an Oreo stuck in the top and was both topped and stuffed with a frosting that tasted like Oreo filling. I could have eaten a bowl of that frosting on its own. As with regular Oreos, however, I felt like the chocolate cupcake was more of a delivery device for the filling than an equal partner in the treat. The cake was good enough, and definitely tasted of chocolate, but was a bit dry.
Vegan Peanut Butter and Jelly: In terms of just the frosting and the cupcake, this was one of the best vegan baked goods I've ever had. The vanilla cupcake tasted slightly different than the non-vegan vanilla cupcake I sampled, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you in a blind test which was vegan. The vegan frosting was also great, with a light peanut butter taste. This cupcake would have been amazing...except for the red jelly filling. I could see the seeds from real strawberries, but the filling had a strong fake-berry flavor and gooey consistency.
The Bottom Line
Philly Cupcake's treats are worth a try, especially if you like super-sweet frostings, vegan treats or ever-changing special flavors. Do they deserve the boutique treatment though? Maybe not.