802 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo NY 14222
Rating: [learn more]
See More Restaurant Reviews For:
"Though we wanted to love Delish, the inconsistent freshness of the items we tried was a major deterrent to a higher rating, but on a good day, you could easily be thrilled."
Of all the dessert shops we've visited in Western New York, Delish on Elmwood may well be the most compelling from the outside: it was in fact so interesting from a distance that we found ourselves peeking into the nearby Dolci, deciding to pass over what seemed to be a plain Italian bakery, and then continuing on to grab our sweets from the brightly colored Delish instead. Like a more fun-looking version of Dessert Deli in Williamsville, Delish looks clean, modern, and bright, its baked desserts are attractively and prominently displayed alongside candies as you walk in the door, and there's every reason to think that the food's going to be great. Cooking classes are offered on-site, and there's a big kitchen in the back, elevated above the front counter and display area, collectively suggesting that this place is a serious bakery with a laser-like focus on making cool-looking sweet stuff.
The process of hooking customers visually begins even before they walk in the door. Brightly-colored chairs are sitting outside on the sidewalk, waiting for patrons to kick back and show the world their discoveries, plucked from display cases full of goodies that could well have been used to illustrate party cookbooks. In one case are truffles, cupcakes, and whoopie pies, while another contained bars, cake slices and whole cakes, and a countertop in the center offered a tray of huge, only semi-interesting looking brown cookies of various types. It was actually difficult to decide what to try.
On visit one, we couldn't leave without sampling one of the gorgeous $5 cupcakes - a red velvet cake with white buttercream frosting and a dusty blue robin egg candy on top. It was packaged in a Chinese takeout-styled container, which was cute, and excitedly torn open immediately after we sat down in the sidewalk chairs. Yet as noted in our prior brief coverage of the Elmwood strip, this cupcake turned out to be utterly dry inside, its frosting a mound of hard and all but inedible badness just waiting to be tossed in the garbage. It was obviously days old, and led us to conclude that Delish wasn't willing to quickly discard its spoiled desserts given all of the work that went into their decoration. But we also grabbed a $1.50 oversized coconut macaroon cookie that was soft and tasty, its light top stripes of drizzled chocolate adding just enough of a contrast to bring out the coconut in each bite. Clearly, Delish wasn't all bad, but we weren't planning to head back quickly.
That changed. When we took out-of-town family for a walk down Elmwood, Delish's cheery exterior decor brought them in off the street, and they too were snared by the cupcakes - a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting was the pick of the day. This time, it was actually good: obviously fresh, soft, and moist, this cupcake proved that Delish's baked goods start out strong, but that their baking dates need to be inquired about before they can be safely purchased.
So we came back again for a third visit, this time grabbing various truffles - a very good chocolate raspberry version with a caviar-like fruity center, a good key lime cheesecake truffle that was strong in sweet, sour, and cream cheese flavors, a strong, pure chocolate truffle, and a fine cookie-like, chocolate-covered one. Even the least discernible of the group, the last of them, was pretty good, and due to their two-bite sizes, the four people who shared them all felt like they'd gotten nice samples. Unfortunately, we also felt obliged to try another cupcake - a chocolate espresso version - which despite an identical chocolate base to the prior one was again dry and lacking in flavor; the frosting was once again thick, so hard that it could be sliced like butter, and unpleasant. We had asked at the time of purchase and were told that it was a day old, leading us to believe that the best of the bunch had been made the same day, and the worst was a couple of days beyond that. In any case, we went 1 for 3 on good cupcakes here, and wouldn't take our chances again. That's unacceptable for $2 per cupcake, let alone the $5 Delish is charging.
Ultimately, though we wanted to love Delish, the inconsistent freshness of the items we tried was a major deterrent to a higher rating: on a good day, with the right items, you could easily walk out of here and be thrilled, but on two of our visits, we left with a mix of bad cupcakes and good cookies and chocolates. Two stars is an appropriate compromise rating given our varied experiences here; if the place did a better job of throwing away its own spoiled desserts, we wouldn't have had to.