My recent interest in cupcakes surprises even me because of my long dislike of cake. It’s not my thing, never has been. I remember when Saint Cupcake opened in Portland it was such a big deal and I just didn’t get it. I still don’t think their cupcakes are that great. On the other hand, if you’ve been reading my posts you know already that I’m obsessed with local chain Trophy Cupcakes and think their cupcakes are divine. However, it was time to bring a new player in the game… duh duh duhhhhhhhhh. I’ve had my eye on Cupcake Royale for a while in its cute barn-like building that used to be an IHOP long long ago. The location is actually much closer to me and sells cupcakes that are just as enticing as Trophy’s, from what I can see on the website. It was time to try it out on a gloomy Saturday when I had no plans but to do some important blog research in the name of cupcakes.
I loved the interior of the shop, you can completely visualize how it might have looked as an old school IHOP. There is definitely a homey-barn feel to it with the A-frame roof and exposed wood beams. The rustic chairs, long picnic bench seating and smell of brewing coffee made me feel relaxed and comfortable. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a wood burning fireplace. This place had such a refreshing cozy character to it. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot of character to Bellevue. Most of the buildings are new/modern, the shops are pristine, the streets clean. The restaurants are all cute, the bars are more like lounges, and frankly, it’s exhausting. I crave character, and at Cupcake Royale I felt like I could settle in with my cupcake, some coffee and a book and be perfectly happy. While the cupcakes are the stars, they also have a full coffee menu and ice cream!
Sad to see that the Meyer lemon cupcake was either not sold at this location or simply sold out, I chose the tiramisu cupcake and the salted caramel. In the name of blog research, you can’t just get ONE item, oh no. For whatever reason, I almost like other desserts trying to be tiramisu more than tiramisu itself. Case in point: this cupcake. I don’t think I would ever just buy myself a vanilla or chocolate cupcake because they bore me. The cake itself usually isn’t that flavorful and not worth the money. However, this vanilla cupcake with mascarpone espresso frosting was amazing. For one of the first times ever, I actually wanted to eat the vanilla cake just as much as I wanted the frosting. You really can’t go wrong with mascarpone and espresso, the frosting was light with an “in your face” flavor to it. Like I said, the stand out was the vanilla cake which was incredibly dense, flecked with vanilla bean, and just sweet enough. It tasted just like I’ve always wanted it to. I was so surprised at how light the cupcake was, I didn’t feel dragged down by an instant sugar headache or queasy stomach. The thought of eating two cupcakes didn’t seem like such gluttony anymore.
The salted caramel was very good. The chocolate cake didn’t impress me as much as the vanilla, and I’ve had equally good salted caramel frosting before. I wouldn’t say don’t buy it, but I would say get the tiramisu cupcake instead.
When it all comes down to it, environment plays a big part. Trophy’s cupcakes may be delicious and unique, but Cupcake Royale is where I can see myself coming back to the most in the future. Sure, I’ll be trying Trophy’s monthly flavor if it intrigues me, but Cupcake Royale is in a convenient location, their cupcakes are lighter yet just as full flavored, and I like the cozy cafe feeling.
Gosh I feel like I’m going through a break up! Trophy Cupcakes, I love you…. but I don’t want to be with you.