When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Treehouse Bakery Location: 1348 West Roosevelt Street Open: Over a month Eats: Vegan-friendly baked goods Price Point: Under $10
Let's make one thing clear: I am not a vegan. And I am especially not a vegan when it comes to baked goods. My sweet tooth worships at the altar of flaky, heavenly pie crusts, wonderfully decadent cookies, and moist, pillowy cakes made that way thanks to ingredients like butter and eggs. The phrase "you won't be able to tell the difference" has been uttered more than once by well-meaning, animal-product-abstaining folks with a vegan baked good in tow, but it has never proved to be true.
Which brings us to Treehouse Bakery. This vegan-friendly sweet shop on Roosevelt makes no such claims of conversion. It simply offers "scrumptious vegan delights" like organic, non-egg, and dairy-free vegan cupcakes, cookies, muffins, pies, and "uncheesecakes" to those who would like to partake. And many do, with satisfying results.
Owner and baker Corianne Sizemore launched Treehouse in 2010 without a retail storefront, selling its goods through special orders and farmers markets. In April, Sizemore finally found a home for her bakery at 1348 West Roosevelt Street, in the former location of Valley Pizza. And with its pink-striped walls and cute cupcake characters, Sizemore's shop, nestled between a party store and a boxing club, feels akin to a Hello Kitty! patch sewn on a leather motorcycle jacket.
At the counter, there is a small selection of vegan-friendly sweets and the friendly Sizemore is usually on hand to let customers know the day's lineup. The creations range from classic to inventive -- think chocolate chip cookies to red velvet and churro cupcakes to a chocolate and nut pie with a hint of ancho chile -- and Sizemore uses all-natural and organic ingredients, such as tasty pineapples in her pineapple upside-down cupcakes.
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Sizemore's baked goods are popular with vegans. And the fact that they are made very well -- flavorful and not dry -- works for everyone. Non-vegans most likely will be able to tell the difference (the cookies come the closest to wow-I-can't-believe-it's-not-vegan territory), but thankfully, the gap isn't as wide as some.
Will non-vegans be making a point to pop into Treehouse? Probably not. But if served a Treehouse Bakery treat at, say, a party, they're not going to turn it away, either. Which may be a backwards way of saying Sizemore's vegan baked goods are pretty good for non-vegans, and exceptional for those who are.