Outsider Tart

It pains me to say that I like fancy cupcakes and artisan bakeries. Actually, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realize that the bakeries and their products don’t arouse my anger. It’s the lines of self-satisfied people patting themselves on the back for being so enlightened about their pastries, even though I’m sure most of them (like myself) would gladly wolf down a Hostess Cupcake if it were offered.

Yet, here I am, about to laud one of the places where these people are found in droves.

Outsider Tart, whose main store is in Chiswick, but now has several stands in markets throughout London, is home to some of the best American-style pastries and cakes. The business was started by David Lesniak and David Muniz, professionals and life partners who moved to London from the States, after Muniz’s officemates told him repeatedly that his baked goods were good enough to sell. The business was quickly noticed by local publications and is now a mini-institution of London sweets.

There’s no doubt that the cakes are sumptuous, sweet and moist. Everything they sell is decadent and ambrosial enough to live up to America’s reputation as the purveyor of ‘Things That Could Easily Make You Obese’. Luckily we’re in a posh part of London, where there’s enough walking, smoking and obsessing to make sure that most customers will eat in moderation. Although it is a struggle.

What really draws you into Outsider Tart, though, is the interior decoration. It’s as if a child’s dream of a gingerbread house collided with the more colorful side of Charles and Ray Eames. The place has a comfortable, homey vibe that is neither manufactured nor old-fashioned. You want to stay and absorb the coziness that you feel being there.

The cakes themselves look so picture-perfect that they become part of the mood of the interior. Everything is so carefully stacked and so palatably slathered with icing that when you order, you feel as if you’re upsetting something that was meant to be on display. But of course that won’t stop anyone, because the urge to eat everything in sight vastly outweighs the desire for perfect design.

So I must admit that I like this place and want to return, despite my fears of becoming a frequent deluxe cupcake-buyer. My pride might hurt a little, and I might be several thousand calories heavier, but when a place looks and tastes so good, it’s impossible to resist.

– Max Kessler