Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Bakeshop

Bakeshop doesn't normally have it's entire vegan menu ready for sale, but it usually has three or four vegan options available. Out of the three cookies in the photo above – (l to r) the gingersnap, the chocolate chip and the salty oat apricot – the salty oat apricot is the most unique and the most engaging. (Photo: News-Press)
Bakeshop doesn’t normally have it’s entire vegan menu ready for sale, but it usually has three or four vegan options available. Out of the three cookies in the photo above – (l to r) the gingersnap, the chocolate chip and the salty oat apricot – the salty oat apricot is the most unique and the most engaging. (Photo: News-Press)

Cupcakeries and bakeries have boomed in the last five or so years, just as unconventionally traditional fast-casual restaurants have trended upward in the last decade. From Georgetown Cupcake and Baked and Wired in Georgetown to Sticky Fingers in Columbia Heights to Red Velvet just south of Chinatown in D.C., small haunts practicing the art of confectionery have popped all over the region.

And these aren’t the bakeries of old, with family or geographic region names at the fore and sweets housed in glass shelving units – these are hip(ster?) bakeries. Bakeshop, in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood, is one of these new school bakeries, with novelties past generations couldn’t have even dreamt up.

Maybe it’s because the owner, Justin Stegall, learned to bake the old-fashioned way: from his family, his mother to be exact. But then his love for baking took him to Brooklyn, where he polished off his homespun skills at Baked, where they have treats like the Bombay Mix cookie and the Grasshopper brownie.

Then, after moving back to Virginia and distributing his sweets online and through other stores, Stegall opened Bakeshop five years ago, on the front end of the bakery trend. And Bakeshop’s selection of cakes, cupcakes, macarons and other treats have helped the shop stand out among the region’s top bakeries.

One of the features that helps Bakeshop stand out is that it has a dedicated vegan menu. A lot of other bakeries in the region have vegan treats here and there, but Bakeshop, while it doesn’t always have all of the vegan options on its menu, always has at least three or four vegan options.

Let’s start with Bakeshop’s vegan cupcakes, which costs $2.50 a piece, $12.50 for a half dozen and $25 for a dozen. The shop’s cakes are moist and velvety and sticky enough to leave crumbs on your fingers. And this writer isn’t too proud lick his fingers clean.

Bakeshop’s chocolate cupcake is lighter than most chocolate cakes, which is a good thing in my opinion, and comes with a dollop of vanilla icing. Bakeshop’s red velvet cupcakes are great, too.

Although the shop’s vegan cupcake menu is conventional, the non-vegan cupcake menu has unique offerings – cupcakes with Nerds, 7-Up cupcakes and Twix cupcakes.

Bakeshop’s standout cookie is the salty oat apricot ($1.75) – it’s sweet and earthy with salty undertones. Some sweets with salt are too salty, but Bakeshop gets it right with the salty oat apricot cookie. Other non-vegan cookies that intrigue me include the spicy gingersnap cookie and the browned butter chocolate chunk.

Bakeshop also does chipwiches ($5.50), which are simultaneously guilt-provoking and heavenly. The cherry chocolate chunk chipwich, with cherry ice cream and chocolate chunks in between two chocolate chip cookies, is sweet and rich, but not too rich.

Many of Bakeshop’s confections are traditional, or remixes of traditional treats, but the shop has one treat that this writer has never heard of: Oreo in a Blanket ($2.75). These sweets, with an Oreo baked into a chocolate chip cookie, have the potential to give Bakeshop national recognition.

Bakeshop | 1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington | 571-970-6460 | bakeshopva.com

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