Friday, January 30, 2009

Confection Selections in the Loop

It seems like you can't swing a lollypop without hitting a sweet shop in downtown Chicago these days.  That's a good thing.  In spite of setbacks like the closing of the Australian ice cream shop in Macy's State Street, and the closing of Moonstruck Chocolates on Michigan Avenue (home to the comfiest chairs and most senseless lack of wifi in the state), the chocolate biz seems very healthy.  Maybe in a recession, the simple things still hold their appeal.

Yesterday we went by More Cupcakes (1 East Delaware Place -- near Bughouse Newberry Square).  While not the smallest shop on Delaware Place (there are two smaller that we know of), it has its charms.  Spartan futuristic glass shelves hold a grid of cupcakes from which you can select.  They all looked yummy, but we didn't buy any because the store as a whole had that "oh-so-cooler-than-thou" vibe to it.  Cupcakes should be homey and inviting, not something out of Zoolander.  Maybe it's a good thing we passed, because the reviews of the shop on Yelp say the prices are way out of line.

The rehabilitation of Wabash Street continues to impress, and has drawn two new sweet shops near the back of Macy's Field's.

The first is called Sugar Bliss Café Boutique.  It looks very inviting, and has a miniscule seating area where you can watch the world go by.

The other is an old Chicago standby -- Fannie May.  After the bankruptcy a couple of years ago we thought we'd never see a new Fannie May outlet open, let alone one that's just two blocks from the flagship store on Michigan Avenue.  But let the tourists have the flagship.  If the future of Fannie May is tiny neighborhood shops like this one, then we're all for it.

Of course, our favorite chocolate place is a little hole-in-the-wall on Wabash around 11th or 13th Street.  It's on the west side of the street and it's a one-man operation where dozens of wonderful varieties of chocolates and truffles are lovingly made by hand in the back of the room.  The owner is super nice, and even if you can only afford one or two chocolates after a hard day at work or class, it's a great pick-me-up. All chocolates are priced by the pound, so our tip is to go for the chocolates instead of the truffles -- you get more for your money that way.

With all this sweet action happening on Wabash, maybe the street will change its name from Jeweler's Row to Confectioner's Row.

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