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Dish DeathMatch: Carrot Cake

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Dish DeathMatch: Carrot Cake
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When it comes to taste testing, Consumer Reports and Cook’s Illustrated do a fine job on the national front. Still, there’s a whole world of Columbus edibles and interests that fly under the radar of those fine publications. The time has come to bring a some local flavor to the food-versus-food scene: it’s time for a little Dish Deathmatch

The Indefensible Position: Mega-Chain Panera is good for lots of things. Its bread is reliable. The salads are decent (other than the excess of red onions). The cinnamon rolls are straight-up loveable. Panera is everywhere in Columbus and it’s an easy place to meet up on the fly.

So, it seems fair to expect the Carrot Cake ($2.19) to be pretty good. After all, carrot cake is good, in and of itself. And the neighborhood stop seems to run out of its carrot cake on a regular basis.

Here is what is true: the fact that Panera’s carrot cake sells out is living proof that people will eat anything, as long as you cover it with two pounds of frosting.

It tastes like disappointment. Coarse, filled with sour gelatinous pastry cream and topped with some sort greasy, equally sour substance (frosting). The best thing about it are the three raisins inside.

All this sadness comes courtesy an affinity for bakery carrot cake. Consider the specimen from Mozart’s ($3.50). Carrot cake isn’t even Mozart’s claim to fame, it’s a European bakery that’s more famous for chocolate tortes and linzer cookies. That said, the Europeans whip up a mean carrot cake. It’s all light and springy. It tastes like carrots and not like spice-cake-mix. The frosting, made with cream cheese, is sweet. The little decorative carrot on top is sculpted out of marzipan. Geez, even the raisins are better.

Is it fair to pitch Panera’s muffin-shaped thing against a slice of bakery cake? That muffin-shaped thing is covered with an inch of frosting, and is labeled “Carrot Cake”: Nuff said.

First Dish DeathMatch: win Mozart’s.

You can do your own taste test by stopping by any Panera, then hitting Mozart’s at 2885 N. High Street.

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12 Responses to Dish DeathMatch: Carrot Cake

  1. catnfiddle February 21, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am

    If you’re considering another carrot cake round, my suggestion is Old Bag of Nails. Seriously, Rockmastermike got a slice at Taste of Grandview, and people kept asking him where to get it. It tastes as good as it looks, and I don’t even like carrot cake!

  2. tolemac5050
    tolemac5050 February 21, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am

    J Alexander’s carrot cake, sheet style served warm and the icing is melting…quite good!

  3. susank February 21, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am

    +1 to Old Bag of Nails carrot cake. It is $3 a slice and well worth it.

  4. RhondaH February 21, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm

    The only thing with Mozart’s sliced cake is that sometimes it is occasionally hit or miss whether it is fresh. It is hard to beat fresh carrot cake though :)

  5. edunc February 21, 2013 1:42 pm at 1:42 pm

    Chocolate Cafe and Alladin’s also make great carrot cakes, though they are more expensive (but their servings feed at least 2).

  6. 0Angle
    0Angle February 21, 2013 2:35 pm at 2:35 pm

    Red Velvet Carrot Cake from A Piece of Cake is life alteringly good.

  7. marshayoung February 21, 2013 2:38 pm at 2:38 pm

    A Piece of Cakes is my husband’s favorite and he eats a lot of carrot cake!

  8. Walker Evans
    Walker February 21, 2013 5:14 pm at 5:14 pm

    I love all of the suggestions for other types of carrot cakes! Keep em coming! ;)

    Miriam already has another Dish DeathMatch written to publish next week, featuring a special kind of fowl. So get ready for more!

  9. Miriam Bowers Abbott
    Miriam Bowers Abbott February 22, 2013 7:42 am at 7:42 am

    Wait. Foul or fowl? I am so glad that carrot cake counts as vegetables on USDA standards (sic), this is the best health food binge list ever.

  10. meltsintowonder
    meltsintowonder February 22, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am

    1. My wife’s
    2. Sassafras Bakery

    As a carrot cake enthusiast, I look forward to trying the other carrot cakes mentioned.

  11. edunc February 22, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am

    Oh, one other favorite: Wildflower Cafe. Yum! @marshayoung, my husband LOVES carrot cake too. :)

  12. sabracadabra February 25, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm

    I’m glad someone else thought the exact same thing about the Panera carrot cake. It was SICK. I got it for free on my birthday, so at least I didn’t have to pay, but it was still a very disappointing birthday treat. Bleh.

    As for favorites, Katzinger’s has the best carrot cake I have ever had. Deli-cious!

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