COCONUT CAKE FROM BLACKBIRD.
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?
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 —
Stu 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.