Tucked away in the Barrack’s Row area of Capitol Hill is a new boutique bakery founded by two down-to-earth and hospitable siblings who view dessert as not just a reward for eating your dinner, but rather as a way of life. The McIntosh siblings are nervously preparing for their grand opening of The Sweet Lobby, yet they should be more worried about where they will expand once their business takes off. Simply put, some of the products that The Sweet Lobby offers are exquisite. The space, though quite small, is located right next to Dunkin Donuts on 8th Street. I actually had to walk past it several times before I realized the tiny area was my destination.
I started my Sweet Lobby experience by tasting the orange ginger shortbread cookie. The smell of the shortbread was interesting: neither the orange nor the ginger smell hit me initially, but instead it was a combination of the two. The mixture is intriguing because of the differing flavored scents: the orange obviously has a citrusy and zesty aroma, while the ginger triggers a spicier olfactory sensation. The taste, though, let me down. I expected a cornucopia of flavor, yet instead there really wasn’t much flavor whatsoever. I detected a hint of orange and a minimal trace of ginger, but I was overall let down because of the mushy texture. Granted, the intense humidity outside probably contributed to the “mushy-ing” of the shortbread, the flavor was not consistent with what I had hoped or imagined.
Following the shortbread, I tasted the “savory” food offered, the hazelnut and thyme cookie. The crispy treat was packed with flavor. The hazelnut and thyme were present, but I also tasted sea salt and parmigiana. While I originally thought the size of the treat was quite small, the explosion of flavor was enough to satiate my taste-buds. It’s difficult to completely narrow down what taste was dominant because there was so much going on; however, I was very interested in the natural flavor. Nothing was artificial in it, and I appreciated that.
At this time, one of the McIntosh siblings saw that my sweet tooth was yet to be completely fulfilled, so he introduced me to the cupcakes. One cupcake caught my interest because it essentially looked like a crafted piece of chocolate. The cupcake, appropriately titled the “Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate,” was decadent. The classical Callebaut chocolate cupcake was dipped in Valrhona dark chocolate ganache, and it was filled with chocolate fudge. As if there wasn’t enough chocolate already, it was then topped with whipped chocolate ganache and finished with chocolate pearls.
Needless to say, the cupcake was sweet. Each layer of chocolate complemented the previous layer, so there was a real sense of continuity in the cupcake. But was most interesting about the cupcake, though, was how well it stayed together. I had imagined it would fall apart because of the many layers of the same ingredient. But the wizard sous chefs designed it in such a way that it wasn’t just a beautiful visual sight, but also a beautiful taste. Simply put, you’ve never tasted something as good as this. Guaranteed.
The final tasting I participated in was the hazelnut-praline salted caramel macaroon. If you like salty and sweet together, this is your dessert. While the salty aspect was predominant, the macaroon itself was soft and delicious. The caramel was whipped and very creamy, and its flavor was incredible. It really complemented the hazelnut taste. It, too, showcased a variety of flavors that are not typically paired together.
The Sweet Lobby is an overall delicious place to go for dessert. The service is very friendly; you won’t find nicer people in the food business. And while all the desserts may not have distinct flavor as of yet, I’m confident that the McIntosh siblings will adjust in due time. After all, they both do have degrees in chemical engineering from MIT, so if The Sweet Lobby doesn’t work out, they’ll have something to fall back on. That won’t be the case, though. The chocolate cupcakes in and of themselves are worth a trip. Visit The Sweet Lobby and satisfy that sweet tooth that normal sweets aren’t doing for you.
404 8th Street SE, Washington DC 20003