About a year ago, a place opened up in SoHo/Nolita called “The Best Chocolate Cake in The World.” A tongue-in-cheek act of hubris, sort of like the novel “Winner of the National Book Award,” foodies were skeptical. Many who went there dismissed it as overrated. Me? I forgot about it. But last week, after having lunch with my friends Leland Scruby (of the French Culinary Institute) and Bao Ong (whose name you may recognize from the the New York Times Diner’s Journal blog) I asked if they wanted to check it out because it was right around the corner from where we were eating (Falai). They gladly assented.
Here’s Leland going inside with two strangers on a bench:
The place itself is very cute, decorated like a French cafe with bronze tables and brown fabric and fixtures. But we’re not here to discuss fabric and fixtures, we’re here to discuss cake. Here’s the cake in question behind the counter:
If you look at the top of that picture you can see they were offering little samples. Leland and Bao quickly gobbled some up and I yelled at them. “You can’t eat the cake before you eat the cake!” I groused. “Now your judgement will be tainted.”
They both shrugged.
I ordered one slice of “The Best Chocolate Cake In The World.” I could choose between milk chocolate and dark chocolate; I chose dark chocolate.
Here’s the slice we were offered:
And here’s Bao and Leland reflected in the table considering the cake:
The biggest problem with this cake, once you bite into it, is that it isn’t really cake. It’s a meringue with buttery chocolate frosting (or, as the website says, “chocolate mousse.”) It doesn’t satisfy any of the cravings you feel when you hear the words “chocolate cake.” It’s the furthest thing you can think of from the chocolate cake you enjoyed with a glass of milk after elementary school.
Leland and Bao had to concur that it didn’t taste like cake, but nonetheless we all kept eating. It proves my theory that, at the end of the day, we’ll all eat anything that’s sweet and made of butter. And though this was made primarily of egg whites, it was buttery enough with the “mousse” to satisfy on some very basic level.
But best chocolate cake in the world? Certainly not.