Memorable | One of the Best
Park Avenue Coffee | St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Review by: Michael Stern
St. Louis Signature Dish
Gooey butter cake really is gooey and buttery. Imagine yellow cake (which forms its underside) mated with moist fudge.
Exactly how the St. Louis signature dessert first was created remains a mystery. Most accounts speculate that some forgotten cake baker added the wrong proportion of ingredients to a recipe. But chef liked the soft, sweet, crisp-edged pastry that emerged from the oven. So gooey butter cake was born.
Until fairly recently, it remained a stealth specialty known only to St. Louisans. But today, like St. Louis eats in general, it glows fetchingly on the radar of traveling foodies. Restaurants far beyond the city offer it as a novelty.
Varieties of Gooey Butter Cake
To taste gooey butter cake in its glory, there is no better place than Lafayette Square’s Park Avenue Coffee. The bakers boast of 76 varieties, about a dozen every day. The range extends from Amaretto and Apple to White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie Dough. I savor Turtle, Lemon Raspberry, and Red Velvet, and look forward to sampling Funky Monkey (chocolate and banana) and seasonal Eggnog. The one listed as Mom’s Traditional wins my heart. Its unbeatable original formula combines eggs, butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar. The batter bakes until its edge gets chewy but the middle stays gooey. This is one grand coffee companion!
You can buy a cake as a 9×9-inch square, a 9×13-inch rectangle, a large or small heart. For eating on premises, the management provides nice-size single portions. Enjoy them in plush arm chairs or at cozy bare tables in the front room or out on the sidewalk.
As its name suggests, this place does not neglect coffee. Park Avenue roasts its own — light and dark, flavored, and decaf — and serves a wide array of espresso drinks, iced and hot.
There are three other Park Avenue Coffee locations: 4240 Duncan Ave.; 417 N. 10th St.; and 5105 Columbia Ave. That last one, in The Hill neighborhood, roasts the beans.
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