The cupcakeoisie of Squirrel Hill–those moms bearing strollers and dogs, those grad students with disposable incomes and sweet teeth–have supported Dozen Cupcakes so well in its first year that the owners have expanded to a bake shop in Lawrenceville. We visited the shop on its third Sunday Brunch, and were quite pleased with the fare. Now, lest you go to the Butler Street shop expecting to end your meal with an Elvis, Carrot Cake, or East End Chocolate Stout, be forewarned that the cupcakes are not available on Sundays. However, the vegan cinnamon rolls and peach berry crisp make up for it.
The restaurant occupies a cozy storefront on Butler Street with brick and robin’s egg walls; lots of natural light; and mismatched, weathered chairs, which you’re certain to back into the friendly customers at the adjacent table. The cheery, tattooed bakers and counter staff weave between each other, the ovens, and the long row of readymade pastries, and Amy Winehouse sings in the background. The coffee is labeled with tasting notes (”black currant, pink grapefruit, chocolate”), and is, of course, from an environmentally responsible company that pays growers better than fair trade prices. Everyone has hipster glasses.
Brunch consists of baked goods such as scones or vegan chocolate-chip cookies, and a small selection of other dishes, including quiche, french toast, and granola. We chose to share a vegan cinnamon roll, peach-raspberry crisp, and the vegetarian strata. Despite a full house, our food came within ten minutes and was warm, with the exception of the cinnamon roll, served at room temperature.
First, the cinnamon roll: Dozen proves that eggs and dairy are completely unnecessary to make a moist, airy bun. Unlike the traditional rolls slathered in cream cheese frosting, these rolls had perfectly scant icing, and the texture was sufficiently chewy without the common cloying sweetness of cinnamon buns. The peach-raspberry crisp was served piping hot in individual ramekins, with a tart melange of peaches, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and oats, exactly how my mother makes it. Subtle flavors of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices brought out the natural flavors of the fruit. The strata was a layered, eggy bread studded with black beans, topped with salsa, cheddar, and sour cream. Like the cinnamon roll, the strata bread was moist, airy, and chewy, and the strata was surprisingly flavorful, with intense peppery tones. The strata came with roasted potatoes that were expertly cooked, if not expertly seasoned. The potatoes had crispy skins and pierced easily with a fork, but I was left wishing for some salt and pepper to enhance the faint whiff of rosemary.
While the vegetarian strata was a little expensive, our bill was $17 for two people, including coffee and orange juice, which we consider inexpensive for brunch at a fledgling shop. The portions were ample, but not overwhelming like Zenith’s. The main downside is the lack of variety for vegans (and general unhealthiness, but it doesn’t purport to be healthy). The few vegan options, however, are outstanding, and every bit as good as their dairy- and egg-laden counterparts. We would certainly return for these dishes again, although we weren’t left craving anything in particular, as was the case for brunch fare at UUBU 6 and Coca. For the reasonable prices, cheery atmosphere, quick service, and tasty pastries, we give Dozen Bake Shop four veggies.
- Vegetarian strata
- Vegan cinnamon roll
- Berry-peach crisp