Is it just us, or did Contrary Cupcakes pop up overnight? On a recent drive down Kingshighway, a robin’s egg blue awning on the corner of Devonshire caught our attention. “Since when was there a new bakery in town?” we asked in unison while turning to each other with the same dumbfounded expression. Thanks to a quick Google search, we learned the bakery, owned and operated by husband-wife team William and Danielle, opened in February.
Like a couple of regular sweet-tooth junkies, we spent part of a Friday night at home on the couch trolling Contrary Cupcakes’ social media pages. The photos were mouthwatering, so we decided to give it a go as soon as possible. We stopped by on a weekday after work, just before the shop closed at 6 p.m. After chatting with William on his recommendations, we chose a dozen from the case to sample as many flavors as we could. And hey, when the cupcakes are *this tiny*, you can do so without judgment!
The cupcakes looked delectable, so it was tough not to sink our teeth in those babies on the drive home. Key word here being “looked.” You eat these mini cakes with your eyes, and, much to our dismay, that’s about it. With the thought and creativity devoted to flavor profiles (think Peanut Butter Banana, Oreo Cheesecake, and Turtle), there’s a lot of room for potential. Each flavor we sampled was slightly underwhelming. The Lemon could be more tart; the Strawberry sweeter; the Red Velvet richer. You get the picture.
The Butterfinger, that day’s special, happened to be the best of the bunch. The dark chocolate cake, not too fudgy or rich, was a sturdy vessel for the thick, creamy buttercream laden with the sugar-spiked candy. We got the last one of the day, and after one bite, the reason it sold out became clear. Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!
Contrary Cupcakes pays a noticeable attention to detail. Each petite cake was beautifully presented, from the perfectly piped buttercream to the drizzle and garnish. We learned that Danielle’s background is in art, and it shows.
As we mentioned earlier, these cakes are small. Like, two bites small. But that’s not a bad thing. Miniature things are instantly cuter, right? And because they’re perfectly proportioned, you can scarf down several varieties in one sitting, right? Meaning they have less calories, right? OK, good. Glad we’re on the same page.
Located on a bustling block immediately off Kingshighway in St. Louis’ South City neighborhood, Contrary Cupcakes certainly has curb appeal. Inside, the color palate is inviting and calm. Simple cupcake art adorns the walls. Only a handful of tables and chairs are available for those dining in, plus a couple of picnic tables on the patio. But due to the early evening closing time, chances are you’re taking your dozen home anyway.
Contrary Cupcakes’ menu changes daily, with one or two featured specials. From Coffee & Doughnuts to Green Tea Frap to Chicken & Waffles, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill flavor combos. Enter the namesake. Owner Danielle’s motto is even if a flavor doesn’t belong in a cupcake, she’ll still put it there. Contrary or not.
At just over $2 a pop, these little guys are pricey. However, deals such as Terrific Tuesday, when you can get $5 off a dozen all day, and Social Saturday, when a discount is given for whispering a secret phrase found on Contrary Cupcakes’ social media accounts, help soften to the blow.
Customer Service: 4
Danielle and William do it all here, from baking the cupcakes to working behind the counter. Contrary Cupcakes undoubtedly is a mom-and-pop shop, further adding to its charm. William was friendly and helpful, and him taking the time to tell us about his wife’s journey in opening the shop was a nice personal touch.
We want to see this place make it. Really, we do. But either flavor quality needs improvement or the price should drop. Your move, Contrary Cupcakes.
If You Go…
4904 Devonshire Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63109