Shortly after my move to Georgia, my good friends Beatrix & Manny* took me on a wonderful outing to explore Atlanta. It was a great day – strolling through Piedmont Park with their beyond adorable pup, and then lunch at the tasty La Fonda. Afterwards, they suggested stopping at a place for cupcakes (see, they really are good friends!). We found ourselves sitting at a time-worn farmhouse table in the sun-filled, Belly General Store, each with a beautiful cupcake in front of us. What great way to kick off “Cupcake Crusade in Georgia”!
Before we get into it, here are some fun little crumbs of info on Belly:
~Awarded “Best Cupcakes” in Atlanta Magazine 2004.
~Located in a historic building that once housed a community anchor – Fleeman’s Pharmacy (and soda fountain!).
~Can be seen in the current movie Life As We Know It, starring Katherine Heigle and Josh Duhamel. In the movie, Belly is converted into “Fraiche”, a gourmet food store/catering company owned by Heigle’s character.
After we enjoyed our dessert and before I headed home, I asked Beatrix and Manny if they would jot down their impressions of the cupcakes and email me later when they had the chance. They got back to me right away with such well-written descriptions that I just had to paste in their write-up word for word. (If I ever decide to quit this crusade, I say Beatrix and Manny should take over!)
Beatrix on the Red Velvet Cupcake w/Vanilla Butter Cream Icing — “Though I am not a cake expert, I thought that the cake was a bit dry. However, on our walk back to the condo after you left, Manny and I discussed the chemistry of cake butter, and decided that any steps to make it more moist may have compromised the structural stability of the cake. So we decided that it was probably fine. The icing still remains a mightily impressive part of the experience, and I was profoundly awed by the icing, slowly melting in the sunshine. You could taste every grain of sugar. I can also see the advantages of serving a cupcake at room temperature, rather than cold, so that would probably rank as a plus on behalf of the establishment. Finally, as I said, compared to some of the other cupcakes you have featured on your blog, I felt that these lacked ornamentation. However, I believe you are 100% correct in your observation that the cupcake matched the ambiance of the establishment, and this is an important part of the experience.”
Manny on the Chocolate Cupcake w/Chocolate Butter Cream Icing — “This German chocolate cake does not disappoint. The cake and icing had a nice contrast between not overly sweet and sweet, respectively. The token dark chocolate chip in the base of the cupcake was a welcome surprise. The cupcake had a generous muffin top (would that be cupcake top?) without the unnecessarily voluminous icing layer to make it considerably easier to eat than cupcakes that are more heavily iced — this was appreciated. (Nota bene: this is a reference to an experience with a cupcake “cake” that was had at our nephew’s 2nd birthday. A cake was made out of 2 dozen individual cupcakes and then slathered with an inch and a half of icing to create the flat surface of the cake. Not only was it too sweet to eat, but a roomful of 2 year olds should not be allowed to eat that much icing!)”
*Beatrix and Manny are the pen names of my friends, which is further evidence of their exceptional writing skills!
Time to break it down…
Belly General Store / 772 N. Highland Ave. Atlanta, GA / www.bellystore.com
1. Price: $2.00! That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!
2. Room temperature: Yes!
3. Size: Standard
4. Vegan or gluten-free options: Not so much.
5. To-go packaging: Hmm, we dined in so I’m not sure about this. Beatrix, are you up for a reconnaissance mission?!
6. Milk for sale?: Yup. You can also get coffee drinks, organic juices made to order, and even shots of wheatgrass. I personally believe that taking one shot of wheatgrass will immediately eliminate any cupcake indulgence-related guilt .
7. Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: Oh yes, in fact, I highly recommend coming by to check out their other goods. You’ll discover a “selection of artisan products ranging from local to international” like organic fruits and vegetables, artisan cheeses, fruit juices, jams (I LOVE jam!), and even spaghetti sauce. THEN, on their menu you’ll find freshly made, olive oil bagels; muffins; Georgia grits; handmade flour tortillas (the scrambled egg, cheddar, house mole & avocado sounds delish!); soups; salads; sandwiches; panninis; and a Nutella & banana panino (I don’t exactly know what that is, but I figure that anything with Nutella in it has got to be good). Lots of yumminess to be had here!
8. Ambiance: Cool! My kind of place – historic building (2 points!), hard wood floors and colorful soda bottles lining the walls. Lots of natural light streaming in. Kind of quirky and nostalgic. Located in the historic neighborhood, Virginia Highlands. No shortage on charm, that’s for sure!
9. Service: Everything was very tidy and the staff was friendly. A cool feature,which Beatrix pointed out, was the little take-out window on the front of the store. That way, folks walking through the neighborhood with their dogs can stop, stroll up to the window, and also enjoy Belly’s treats.
I truly enjoyed my Vanilla Cupcake w/Chocolate Butter Cream Icing for its sweet simplicity, appropriate cake/icing ratio, soft cake and rich frosting. So much so that I will find room on the Top 10 for this little gem!
~My dear thanks go out to Manny and Beatrix for your great contribution, your fun company, a memorable day, and a warm welcome to Georgia!