Had Au Bon Pain offered cupcakes seven months ago, the Cupcake Quest may never have begun. That's not a comment on their quality - they're pretty good, but not the winners of my quest - but the immediate gratification would have prevented the idea of a quest from forming that one afternoon back at Pearson.
The Cupcake Quest began in the following manner, which is also described on the main Quest page:
One day, my coworkers and I had a sudden craving for cupcakes around 3pm. We had already taken a long lunch, so we resisted the urge to go on an expedition, but the craving kept coming back nearly every day around the same time, stronger and stronger. Finally, the Cupcake Quest was born.Au Bon Pain was a short walk from my old office - in fact, I ate there almost daily - so you see, our cupcake craving would have been immediately quenched and we may never have become so obsessed. Alas, Au Bon Pain didn't introduce cupcakes until recently.
As luck would have it, there's also an Au Bon Pain very near my new workplace. I've cut back to getting lunch there once or twice a week instead of every day. Apparently daily tomato soup binges can bring about heartburn.
On a long afternoon a couple weeks ago, I grabbed my soup and decided, with a sigh, that the Cupcake Quest must continue when I find myself staring at untasted cupcakes. Au Bon Pain has three kinds: double chocolate, French vanilla, and red velvet. I was about to grab the red velvet when I noticed the calorie counts staring me in the face. (How's that for appetizing?) Double chocolate - 320 calories. French vanilla - 350 calories. Red velvet - 400 calories. Knowing that I'd be trying Mix Bakery cupcakes at the Signpost launch party later that evening, I went for the "healthiest" choice, double chocolate.
The Verdict: Not bad, Au Bon Pain, not bad at all. I always feel a little uncomfortable praising gigantic food chains, but I've always been pretty pleased with Au Bon Pain's baked goods, and this is no exception. (Oh yeah, I like the various tomato soups too. Probably too much.) (Also, Au Bon Pain was founded in Boston, so even though it's around the world now, it has local ties.) The cake part of this cupcake had the kind-of-light, kind-of-cakey taste that you get from a boxed cake mix, and the frosting was luxuriously rich. The cute little chocolate shavings on top were a nice touch. Au bon...petit gâteau!
Note: This review is for the Au Bon Pain in the lobby of Children's Hospital Boston (300 Longwood Ave).