REVIEW: This Cake Was a Shit Show – Blackbird Restaurant Cake FAIL


The front of this piece of cake looks like it crashed into an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic.


Hello Asheville,

I know you guys love it when I harsh-out in my reviews, because you tell me so. My scathing excoriation of The Glass Onion is the piece that more people mention to me than any other piece I ever wrote. I wish that I could capture the audience with every article that I do when I am being a complete dick about how fucking awful something was, but the food I eat most of the time in Asheville is not awful, and is in fact, usually somewhere between pretty good, really good, and totally fucking awesome. That’s just the way the food scene in our town is right now. I haven’t had a truly bad meal or even a bad DISH in Asheville in a long time. Hardly a bite has passed my lips in the past 12 months that has been awful enough to make a public stink about. Until this fucking horrid piece of cake came along.

One cold day, I was downtown, and decided to have a sweet and coffee. Out-of-the-blue I made a snap-decision and opted to have a piece of the semi-famous coconut cake from The Blackbird Restaurant. Everybody loves that cake. My mom, my friends, my fellow Food Fans. It’s a minor-league legend. So, I walked in, asked if it was OK for me to just order dessert and coffee, the young staffers were pleasant and accommodating, and placed me at a very nice table.

The coffee arrived in a small French press, and the cake showed-up a little while later. I was actually a little surprised by how long it took for my cake to arrive. The coffee was tiny so I had to sip it in order not to finish it before the cake got there, and it turned tepid while I waited. There were also coffee grounds floating in my cup. ._.

When it showed up, the slice of cake looked like ass. The front of the wedge appeared as if someone had already taken several bites out of it. I couldn’t even get a picture of it that looked good enough for Instagram. That should tell you something about the sub-par appearance of this cake.

Looks are one thing, but how did it taste?



Uneaten cake, destined for the trash can. The angle of this photo doesn’t convey the sheer amount of cake that I did not eat. I ate less than half of this shit-show before I gave up and called it a loss.

It was cold, dry, and seemed anything but fresh. If there’s one thing I truly can not abide by it is cold cake. Cake should be… no, it absolutely must be… served at room temperature. The first bite of this cake was so fucking disappointing, my heart sank, and I was immediately filled with regrets about my choice to walk into Blackbird. There are at least 10,000 other delicious baked sweets in downtown Asheville that I could have opted for that day. At $8 for the POS cake, plus the cost of the tepid coffee, and the tip, I was $15 in the anger-hole before I finally gave-up on even pretending that I could eat any more of that absolute shit-show. Boooo! I was in the worst mood ever.

Just in case I haven’t made it clear: This cake sucked.

• The frosting was not only cold, but it was goopy and so fucking sweet I could feel my teeth rotting in my head with each unenthusiastic bite I made them take.

• The cake part was dry, dry, dry, dry. Cake should not be dry. Everr.

• An $8 piece of cake that is supposed to be one of the best things in Asheville should not be served looking like ass, being bone dry, and fucking COLD. I almost never complain about price, as I am willing to pay whatever something costs if I want it bad enough and if it tastes good enough, but I definitely felt as if I threw my money in the trash that day.

WTF, Blackbird? Do you just not give a shit whether or not your prized confection is served completely wrong and is practically inedible? Well, you should.

I was going to go into Blackbird for brunch as part of my Month of Brundays series on Ashvegas, but now, I kinda doubt it. I mean, C’mon. If that’s what their premier dessert is tasting like these days, there’s no way I’m submitting my mouth, stomach, and wallet to another mugging like that.

I was also thinking about adding their cake to the list of “10 Things You Absolutely Must Eat in Asheville” that I’m compiling. But now? Yeah, no fucking way.

One of my fellow Food Fans saw my unhappy FaceBook post two days after I got the shit-show cake, and she commented:

Dang, it’s still my favorite coconut cake . I picked up a slice tonight, in fact. As usual it is the coconut bomb.

And another wrote:

Have had several stellar meals there so hope this was just an isolated bad experience….

Maybe it was an isolated experience, but it was also totally avoidable, a huge disappointment, and a big middle finger directed at any unlucky customer who happen to want the famous Blackbird coconut cake that day. A cake that one other Food Fan pointed out (with hyperbole) is:

the only thing they advertise on their billboard.

I want restaurants to be successful, and I want that for the Blackbird as much as anywhere else in town, but they’ve got to be on top of their fucking game, Man. For real. If you have a piece of fucking cake that everyone is talking about, you should NEVER serve it cold, dry, and looking like ass. Because, for one thing, here’s a list of 6 places within an inch of Blackbird on Biltmore Ave that I truly wish I’d gone to instead, and that I will choose from next time I’m downtown, on that block, looking for coffee and a sweet:

  • The French Broad Food Co-op – Has excellent, house-made sweets at a reasonable price, plus coffee in urns, and a couple of tables to chillax at.
  • City Bakery – Holy shit. A pastry case FULL of delicious sweets is located directly across the street from Blackbird. DAMN IT!!!
  • 67 Biltmore – Aw, Maaaaan! They have awesome little star-shaped danish thingies at 67 Biltmore that I love! :(
  • Chestnut – Joe’s got some great desserts on his menu, and the coffee at Chestnut’s never disappoints.
  • Double Decker Bus – Not 30 feet from where I was sitting in Blackbird, I could only look at and long for one of the funnest cafes in Asheville, that always has a decent muffin or something in the tiny case on the counter.
  • Curate – They have fan-fucking-tastic desserts and some of the best espresso in Asheville at Curate.

So there ya go: A negative review. First in a loooong time. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I didn’t enjoy that fucking cake.

— END —

IMG_0273Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.


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5 thoughts on “REVIEW: This Cake Was a Shit Show – Blackbird Restaurant Cake FAIL

  1. Stu,

    I feel your pain. Get yourself over to Nine Mile and have a piece of Coconut Cake. Wendi Williams is the baker and the cake is amazing. Can’t speak to their coffee because I usually have a glass of wine left from dinner but this cake is THE BEST and it is not $8.00

    Beverly >


  2. Hey Stu,

    I read your post on today’s Ashvegas update. As an Asheville native now living in CA, I love reading Ashvegas to stay updated on the latest news in this great town. I really appreciate your POV, wit and writing style. I’m not sure I’ve ever publicly replied to a blog post but I was so emotional after reading your review of Blackbird that I felt moved to comment.

    First let me say that I’m in no way affiliated with Blackbird. I’ve never eaten the coconut cake at Blackbird, and probably never will because of a gluten allergy, but man, I felt awful for that place after I read your review. Restaurants very existence depends on pleasing the customer so they continue to return. I was in the food service business for close to 20 years and my business occasionally got poor reviews on yelp and google so I know first hand how damaging negative reviews can be. As a former restaurant owner, negative feedback is imperative to the growth and refinement of the dining experience. It is in fact, priceless – it allows the owner to know what’s not working in the business. Any good business owner will take that feedback and use it to fuel improving their business. I really appreciated the patrons who told me what was not working so I could continue to improve the guest experience. Furthermore, I really appreciated when those folks told me directly (in person, or via phone/email) and gave me an opportunity to turn around their bad experience. More often than not, the guest would update their review, thank us for heeding their feedback and became loyal customers. Public reviews are, in a sense, the equivalent of public shaming. It’s hurtful and could be best dealt with discreetly. I understand you overpaid for a terrible experience and Blackbird should know that and make it right for you. If this is an isolated event, and all your other meals/experiences have been great, I think they should also have the opportunity to make it up to you.

    Like I said, I don’t live here and I don’t know the folks at Blackbird so I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m all for freedom of speech and voicing one’s opinion. I’m simply voicing my opinion as a food service veteran.



    • I write reviews, they get published in a public format, otherwise they wouldn’t be reviews, they would be… a journal? Blackbird should absolutely be ashamed of the POS cake that they served me. I appreciate that you took the time to read my review and respond, but I am not in any way apologetic about writing honest reviews about bad food. Especially in this case, when the food was REALLY bad. Really really very bad and awful and never should have been put on my plate or table. If a restaurant can’t handle one bad review about one item on their menu, they might be a little too thin-skinned for the food biz. If I was to talk to every restaurateur personally about every bad (or good) dish that they served me, I wouldn’t be a reviewer any more, I’d be a consultant. Aaand they would need to pay me the big bucks for that! Bad food happens. I’ve made it part of my job to point that out on a public forum. A restaurant like Blackbird that has a signature dish — like that POS cake — needs to make sure that every single time they serve it, it’s perfect… or at least not an inedible turd. Since writing that review, several people have piped-up to tell me that they’ve had the exact same experience with that cake, and will never go back to BB, so maybe if the BB sees my review, it’ll be a wake-up call for them and they will stop serving cold, dry, stale, $8 slabs of cake to their diners. It was rude of them to do so, and they got slapped for it. If you go back and reread the intro to my piece, you’ll see that I don’t write a lot of negative reviews, because I mostly eat good food, but when something is as awful as that piece of cake was, it absolutely deserves to be called-out by me, or anyone else with the means to do so.



  4. Pingback: How Many Restaurants in Downtown Asheville? Officially: An Assload. I made a list. | Stu Helm: Food Fan

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