Dessert First

Blueberry Upside-Down Cupcake at Maizie's Café & Bistro

See also: Strawberry Shortcake at Durant's

There are quite a few places to grab a bite to eat near Camelback Road and Central Avenue, but none of them is as much an easygoing neighborhood gathering spot as Maizie's Café & Bistro. Tucked at the base of Landmark Towers (right by the light rail), the restaurant has been known as a great location to stop in for weekend brunch or a post-work nosh and drink since opening in 2009. And for good reason, too. During happy hour, offered 2 to 6 p.m. daily, all beer, well drinks, house wines, and sangria are $3, and eight appetizers -- including wingless buffalo dip and smoked pork sliders -- are discounted to $5. For something more filling, the inside-out burgers are a real standout, with everything that's usually on top stuffed in the middle of the patty.

The dessert menu, however, leaves a little bit to be desired. There are classic sundaes and something called Chocolate Bomb! -- a fudge brownie, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and chocolate and caramel sauce. To match its all-American menu, Maizie's also has half-baked chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, served gooey and warm with ice cream and caramel sauce. But only one dessert seemed unique: the blueberry upside-down cupcake.

The name of the dish, "upside-down cupcake," brings to mind a number of fun presentation options. It could look like a bit of a mishap with the frosting smushed underneath the cake. Or, it could be more like a layer cake, with frosting sandwiched in between and the top layer shaped to look like a dome of icing. Upside-down doesn't necessarily need to be literal, but the resulting dish should at least turn the overall idea of a cupcake on its head. As for Maizie's version, it does none of that. So what is it? A big piece of angel food cake with a lake of blueberry sauce, a little swirl of buttercream frosting, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If there's one thing this dessert has going for it, it's definitely the portion size. It's big enough to share among three people without anyone feeling left out, and it's got plenty of blueberries and sauce for the cake to sop up. The blueberry flavor is flat rather than bursting, though, and the cake doesn't add much, either. The buttercream frosting is rich without being heavy. The cake, on the other hand, isn't as light and spongy as expected. If the cake was like the one at Durant's, this dessert would score more points. In fact, Maizie's could take a note from Durant's about plating as well.

The components of the blueberry upside-down cupcake are not anything special, but they do add up to a homey (and somewhat homely) summer dessert complete with ice cream, albeit not house-made. If it wasn't for the generous size, the cost of $7 would be a bit much. But if you're already hanging out at Maizie's with a group of friends and are looking for an excuse to extend the conversation, this dessert will do the trick.

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Dominique Chatterjee