The Hours: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
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The Place: Cake Envy, 7900 E. Green Lake Dr. N., Suite 106, 453-3337, GREEN LAKE.
The Hours: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
The Digs: Behind an inviting display case that showcases the sugary wares of this Green Lake cupcakery (sidenote: Is "cupcakery" really a word we've adopted into the English language? Christ.), an open kitchen reveals the hustle and bustle of a bakery that churns out not only cupcakes, but cake pops, giant custom orders, and stunning tiered wedding cakes, too. There are a dozen or so flavors to choose from each day; the selection changes, but always includes something whimsical and fancy like matcha or crème brulee, standards like red velvet or vanilla with sprinkles, and at least one vegan and gluten-free option.
Imagine that a sweet-toothed, Scandinavian decorator with a penchant for white designed the interiors, and you've got an idea of the modern, frosty dining room that reads more like an IKEA cafeteria than a neighborhood bakery. There are a handful of sleek, white, plastic two-top tables, a few longer ones suitable for larger parties, and even a couch near the front window, though that, too, is built more for looks than comfort.
It may be a bit cold inside, but smart people aren't sitting indoors anyway; Cake Envy sits a stone's throw from Green Lake and shares enough patio tables with Ben & Jerry's next door that you're not likely to want for al fresco seating. But curmudgeons beware: squirmy kids amped on too much sugar regularly have run of the place, both inside and out.
The Deal: Every day between 4 and 7 p.m., Cake Envy offers a sweet deal on cupcakes: buy two (either regular sized or an adorably miniature version) and get one free. More importantly than the free cupcake, particularly for parents run ragged after a day chasing toddlers, is the fact that the shop gloriously sells beer (bottles like Left Hand Brewing's Sawtooth Ale, Big Sky IPA, Boulder Beer's Hazed & Infused, etc.), red and white wine, and bubbles, all half off during happy hour. The timing couldn't be better, really, as this perfectly syncs with that slow afternoon slump when everyone could use an upper-downer combo of sugar and alcohol. There's Caffe Umbria coffee, too, though no deal on that.
The Verdict: Like a Hollywood starlet, cupcakes are allowed a multitude of sins just for being tiny and cute. And while Cake Envy's picturesque cupcakes are, indeed, some of the tiniest and cutest (their wedding cakes and custom orders are even more beautiful), the flavors we tried were inconsistent: good cake, moist and properly salted to balance the sweet, but buttercream that left a greasy mouthfeel and felt like it was missing something--a one-star frosting on a four-star cake.
That said, Cake Envy is one of the only cupcake joints in town offering a consistent daily discount--Cupcake Royale and Trophy Cupcakes both alert Facebook fans when they're offering last-minute deals at their various locations--and also perhaps the only one to offer booze, which is obviously a crucial bonus. The oddest part of Cake Envy's happy hour deal is that it's dine-in only, meaning you've got to have three people to apply a proper person-to-cupcake ratio. And don't even ask for a doggie bag--it'll be $1.50 for a to-go box, and even then you'll get sideways glances for abusing the system.
Free cupcakes are hardly ever a bad thing, though, and when they can be enjoyed outdoors, overlooking Green Lake, on a summery Seattle day, with a half-priced glass of rose-colored prosecco, well, it just doesn't get much sweeter than that.