Just last week we showed you the signs outside the new Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC in Downtown Disney…
And NOW we are happy to report that as of yesterday, it’s open for business!
First things first: Why all the excitement over this bakery? Well, aside from being the latest addition on the scene as Downtown Disney transitions to Disney Springs, it’s also the new home to BabyCakes NYC gluten-free and vegan baked goods in Disney World!
Erin McKenna is the founder of BabyCakes NYC. Almost one year ago, the BabyCakes location in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace closed (along with Pollo Campero and Bodie’s All-American) to accommodate construction in the area. The new Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC fills the void felt by many guests on restricted diets, either due to allergies, digestive intolerances or lifestyle choice when BabyCakes closed, so we’re here to offer it a hearty “Welcome Back!”
Now, I just mentioned the Marketplace, so let’s not go too much further before we discuss the location of Erin McKenna’s. It finds its home in what is now called The Landing (formerly part of the Pleasure Island area). Depending on your most recent visit to Downtown Disney, things may look a LOT different! You’ll find Erin McKenna’s tucked right in among some brand new retails shops including Sanuk, Sound Lion, and Chapel Hats, facing what will be The Boathouse restaurant.
Seeing this area with its exposed brick and aesthetically pleasing outdoor strolling area, you really do start to get a feel for how much
Downtown Disney has — and will continue — to change.
For a point of orientation that you might be more familiar with, Fulton’s Crab House will be directly behind you when facing the bakery coming from the Marketplace side.
So, that’s the general location… now, let’s step inside! For opening day, there was a long line of folks waiting to do exactly that.
“If you sell BabyCakes, they will come…”
Once you get inside, the first thing I think you’ll notice is… all the PINK! From the walls to the Cast Member costumes, it all goes with the Valentine bakery theme.
Box displays upon entry are a good reminder that you can order full cakes from the bakery for special occasions.
The store is long and narrow, and you’ll see pretty much the entirety of it in these next few photos. Basically guests see the bakery cases full of items alongside the register counter.
Though you may be able to catch a glimpse of some kitchen fun going on to your left.
And who should be there greeting and helping guests on opening day but the founder of BabyCakes, Erin McKenna herself!
She was kind enough to sign autographs for those who asked for one. (Oh, and there’s the amazing Ms. Emily — the BabyCakes, and now THIS bakery’s — store manager and all-around awesome chick, behind Erin.)
Anyhoo, that about sums up the setting! It’s simply the bakery. Still, those who remember the previous location (tucked into a corner of shared space with Bodie’s and Pollo Campero), there is more room here to carry a larger assortment of products.
The bakery does not have it’s own dedicated seating, in or outside. With plenty of construction still going on in the area, there isn’t much seating to be had in the direct area at the moment, with the exception of this batch of benches right next to The Boathouse construction.
But since I had some photos to take, I went past Fulton’s and headed into the Marketplace area, where there are lots of tables and chairs available.
And with the seating dilemma solved, it’s onto our favorite topic…
In previously writing about BabyCakes, we’ve typically summed it up as gluten-free, vegan baked goods. It’s also certified kosher. But you can gain a fuller understanding of the offerings from this statement by Erin McKenna: “We focus on the underserved people with gluten, dairy, egg and soy sensitivities, the heath-minded, and, most importantly, allergic kids who are often unable to indulge. Our goal is to make eating vegan and gluten-free fun and delicious…”
Since the line was lengthy for opening day, a Cast Member kindly brought out menus for those of us waiting outside. You’ll notice the categories of items include cupcakes, donuts, cookies, cookie sandwiches, loaves, crumb cake, and brownies.
The Cast Member did note that flavors and choices can vary on any given day, but this is a fairly good rundown of what will typically be available.
Not every item was available on my visit, due to it being the first day (I’m going to have to get back to find out what that Thin Mint is all about!). But there was still a larger assortment of choices than what was listed on the menu upon arrival at the bakery case. First up? Cupcakes!
Vanilla, Banana, Agave-sweetened Chocolate, Vanilla with Lemon, French Toastie, and Blondie and Brownie Cupcakes were waiting to be snatched up during my visit.
And while I did get a French Toastie Cupcake, I was quite interested in the next case on display. Even though it’s a smaller case, it held more variety than what I can recall at the previous location.
Donuts, sweet breads, cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies, brownies and even a couple of bagels were all up for grabs.
Even having seen a menu outside, I wasn’t quite prepared for all the choices, and it was a little difficult to decide! From here, I ultimately went with the Samoa Donut and the Lemon Teacake.
Lastly, a couple of savory options were displayed on the end: Vegetable Biscuits and Focaccia Bread.
Having sampled BabyCakes sweet treats before, I was most intrigued by these, so I picked up some Focaccia.
In fact, why don’t we begin with that? I don’t think you can tell how large the portion is from the photo, but you may be able to see that — as expected for focaccia — the bread is full of herbs such as rosemary. It also has a nice parmesan-like flavor.
But the question with gluten-free baked goods often lies more with the texture. This version is certainly very dense; in fact, I’d equate it closer to the texture of a scone than a lighter focaccia. That said, it’s pleasantly filling and I found it to be pretty darn tasty.
I thought I more or less knew what to expect from the French Toastie cupcake since I’ve tried BabyCakes cupcakes previously. However, the fun flavor profile was a nice surprise: a spiced vanilla cake base with maple frosting.
The flavor combo here is great of you’re a fan of maple. And I was really happy with how moist it was — not a quality that stands out as much with previous BabyCakes Cupcakes I’ve tried.
Due to the small size, I think you get more bang for your buck with some of the other treats. But more than anything I like the thought of a kid who can’t enjoy a cupcake in most of the park locations being able to have one here, so I’m all for it.
Now, the Samoa Donut looked like a winner from the get-go. You just can’t argue with chocolate and caramel stripes on top of big ol’ flakes of coconut.
Fortunately, my first-sight assessment was correct. I’ll admit, I wasn’t thinking the word “decadent” would come up in a review of gluten-free, vegan treats, but it’s completely appropriate here. I already knew I liked BabyCakes cake donuts (I’d say just a bit more dense than a traditional), but with such terrific toppings oozing over it, this exceeded my expectations.
Of everything I tried, I’d give an “I’d never know it was made of anything different than all the regular ingredients I have in my pantry” award to the Lemon Teacake. (Though I might try to think of a catchier name for the award first.)
This was just a terrific, rich poundcake with a burst of citrusy lemon coming from the icing on top. I love that “crinkly” icing texture!
I think the only thing I might change is giving it a little thicker layer of icing, but really, no complaints here.
I’d say the best takeaway I can offer is that, specifically in regards to the Lemon Teacake and the Samoa Donut, I really didn’t feel like I was missing anything that I love in a sweet treat. And regardless of it being gluten-free or vegan, I’d be back for the Lemon Teacake in a New York minute, just ‘cuz it’s good!
A few notes: Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC accepts snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan. Also, while the bakery opened just after 1 pm for opening day, typical opening time will be 10 am.
It’s great to have Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC in Downtown Disney. I’m fortunate in that I don’t have any food intolerances, but I have friends and family members who do, and knowing there is a place with a large selection of treats that are truly tasty and enjoyable makes me glad for them when they come to visit. Knowing that I can grab something alongside them and be equally as happy is a big bonus, too. With the name of Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, I don’t really know whether I should say “Welcome” or Welcome Back,” but either way, we’re glad you’re here!
What sweet or savory treat would you choose from the menu? Let us know in the comments below!