The last time I sat in Brownie Box eating my slice of tiramisu cheesecake, with its tangy amaretto base, fluffy centre, and lightly cocoa-dusted topping, I was tempted to smear it all over my Chromebook screen in the futuristic hope that Google would enable you, dear reader, to taste but a shadow of this divine combination. Then the rest of me said NAFF OFF GOOGLE, THAT’S MY BLOODY CHEESECAKE, and even if I could, I wouldn’t, because it’s just too amazing and you wouldn’t appreciate it, so back away whilst you still can, you ungrateful pudding-stealer, just BACK RIGHT AWAY AND PUT DOWN THE FORK.
Welcome to Brownie Box, whose products will turn you into a rabid hermit as you squat in the corner inhaling sparkly cupcakes and suspiciously eschewing all eye contact lest anybody dare request a taste.
Thankfully the people who work there are infinitely nicer than I am. It used to be two women, and now it’s two men (or perhaps I just haven’t managed to coincide with the female staff for a while), but everyone I’ve encountered has been warm, welcoming, and lovely. I’ve sat for hours at a time taking advantage of the free wifi and left in peace or greeted with a smile, but always at my cue. I understand that it’s a family-run business which makes sense, because everyone who works there seems to truly care.
At first glance, it’s not a particularly exciting establishment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely pleasant; but the decor isn’t kooky, or posh, or unique, or (let’s not beat around the bush) Instagrammable. But it’s warm, spotlessly clean, and cheerfully painted in a sunny shade of yellow. One wall is a mural of treat-themed quotations, the tables are a good height, and along the back there is a very comfortable cushioned bench where one could happily sit for hours and, in fact, one has.
The thing is that the interior really doesn’t need to be memorable because the cakes simply speak for themselves. As the name suggests, there are always multiple brownie varieties on offer, which change regularly; there’s also a cheesecake of the week, a few cupcakes, and various other offerings (on my most recent visit, the classics: red velvet, carrot, chocolate fudge). Inexplicably, they even cater to the paleo crowd. Yes, you deluded pretend hunter-gatherers, when you’re done skinning that hairy mammoth, you too can indulge in a brownie (not to mention it’s also gluten-free).
I wish I could remember what I tried when I first popped in a couple of years ago, since it was a traditional cake of the country from which the girl behind the counter originated and now I can’t even recall where that was. But worth mentioning only because it’s evidence that they think outside the (brownie) box, too. Plus, we had a really nice chat and she explained that most of the time, the cakes are made on a whim, according to what they fancy on any one day.
And perhaps it’s this genuine enjoyment on the part of the bakers which makes the cakes just so good. Just. So. Flipping. Good. In the interests of market research, taking one for the team, science etc I have sampled at least ten of their products, from croissant to red velvet cake and multiple brownies and feel legally entitled to say that the good people at Brownie Box are physically incapable of producing a disappointing bake.
And not only are they all deliciously indulgent, with precisely the right sweetness level and variety of choices, they are invariably beautifully presented; edible glitter, colourful flowers, chopped nuts, piping, it’s all there. And not like untouchable posh hotel cakes, either, but more god-that-looks-gorgeous-let-me-plant-my-face-into-its-chocolatey-centre sort of a way. You know. Like that.
Good coffee too. It’s not blow-your-mind spectacular but it’s certainly not bad, although frankly it’s little more than a sideshow, and a means to keep you awake so that you can chow down on yet another glorious cake.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and sample the Ferrero Rocher brownie. Purely in the interests of reliable information, you understand. I am nothing if not thorough in my research.