It's true that most spectacular, mouthwatering desserts are found at specialty shops and fine dining restaurants, but every now and then, a fast casual spot really wows us with their menu. And if that includes dessert, we definitely want to know about it, because these spots tend to be cheaper and more convenient than desserts at restaurants with table service.
That's why we felt compelled to check out Liberty Market, part of restaurateur Joe Johnston's triumvirate of Gilbert establishments that serve delicious, (often) locally sourced food. As we walked up to the counter, a big display of pastries greeted us, including chocolate-covered banana bread and huge zebra brownies. It already looked like this visit would be leaps and bounds better than when we had "cheesecake" and a sundae at Joe's Farm Grill.
One of the great things about dessert at Liberty Market is the ability to quickly stop by and be out the door with food in hand within a few minutes. And while you're waiting, you may as well grab a cup of coffee or shot of espresso at the E-61 Bar, which recently made the switch to Stumptown Coffee Roasters (as a Portland girl, this scores points with me). The Vanilla Latte is really flavorful, rounded out by a rich kick of espresso.
As for the pastry case, the Thin Mint Cupcakes were a real standout, looking beautifully frosted with half of a Girl Scout cookie on top. And they tasted as good as they looked. The cake's texture was light and incredibly soft, and the flavor was very minty with a touch of chocolate. The whipped icing basically mirrors the chocolate coating on the outside of real Thin Mint cookies.
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The chocolate cake was moist, but wasn't packing too much chocolate flavor. However, Thin Mints aren't too rich in chocolate flavor either. While the cupcake wasn't a deep, dark chocolate, it did taste exactly like the Girl Scout cookie. Eerily so, in fact. In the end, this Thin Mint Cupcake was everything it promised to be, and it was even a little magical. Can we beg Girl Scouts of America to start selling these cupcakes instead of the cookies? Once you try one, you'll be on board for a GSA cupcake overhaul.
Since the Thin Mint Cupcake was a mere $3, we also picked up a giant slice of Carrot Cake, priced at $5.50. Too bad it was seriously lacking in the spice department. Ginger could barely be detected, and there was so little cinnamon that I wanted to run to the pantry and sprinkle more on. The cream cheese frosting was tasty, but not anything out of the ordinary. There were also no nuts in the actual cake with only a thin layer pressed into the outside, so there wasn't much texture either. Although I savored the cupcake slowly over about a half hour (another benefit of taking treats to-go), I gave up on the cake only halfway through.
If you're stopping by Liberty Market for a sweet bite to eat, maybe skip the old-fashioned, triple-layer cakes and opt for one of the unique cupcake creations. We also hear that you can't go wrong with the Griddled Bread Pudding.