Eating London: Poor sad cupcake

A while back one of my friends introduced me to The Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road. We spend a lovely day spent mooching around boutiques touching things we couldn't afford. Then we huddled over cups of tea and chatted between mouthfuls of delicious gem like cakes. I was instantly smitten by the dazzling displays of multicoloured cupcakes and cosy atmosphere. Joy.

Since then I've developed a very slight mania for fancy cupcakes (anything that comes in a wrapper just wont do), something about them just makes me grin. The problem is there doesn't seem to be enough of these shops in London, plenty of independent online cupcake shops out there but you can't impulse buy a little beauty when the mood takes you or you want to brighten someones day up with some baked goods!

So the other day I was planning a wander around the V&A and remembered reading there was a branch of Hummingbird Bakery round the corner from the museum on Old Brompton Road. Naturally I had to take a detour to re-live my first experience but I'm slightly wishing I hadn't now.

The shop was easily found with its distinctive pink hummingbird logo hung up outside and tables and chairs huddled tightly in the slim patio area just outside the shop. Inside however a bit more polished than it's slightly boho sibling over in Portobello. Nothing actually wrong with the place, just somehow lacking in something. Atmosphere? I dunno, couldn't put my finger on it.

A quick glance round. Stripped wooden floors, check. jaunty pink mosaic tiles and chocolatey painted walls, check. Generic coffee shop music, check. Service- typically London i.e. just the right side of surly.

Part of the charm of it's sister store was the riotous display of cakes jostling for attention when you walked in. Here domed displays line up rather formally on the back wall, daring you to interupt their symmetry by ordering a slice. Sweet little cupcakes cower in in rows, seemingly begging for release from their plastic and glass display unit rather than hanging out and comparing sprinkles.

I ordered a cuppa and a cake and settled in to a plush velvet armchair to collect myself and have a little read before traipsing off round the museum. The thing is I just couldn't get comfy. For some reason the tables were too tall for the chairs so the top was grazing chin height once comfortably settled back in the chair so I ended up uncomfortably perching on the edge to be able to reach my rather bitter coffee.

The worse thing however was my cupcake. I opted for a Red Velvet, anyone who's had one before knows that this is a combination of rich, moist chocolate cake dyed deep red and topped with a whipped tower of tangy cream cheese icing. What I got was a slightly dessicated base which tasted like it'd been hanging round for a few days topped with tooth achingly overly sweetened icing. Disappointed or what?


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