If like me you find the latest craze in cupcake shops somewhat vapid, then you should know Outsider Tart is the perfect antidote to this. Although they sell cupcakes, Outsider Tart specialises in the All-American Cake Bake – an altogether different and more substantial sugary experience. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good cupcake. But man can not live by cupcake alone.
Man can, however, live by Alabama Fudge Brownie alone:
Outsider Tart is run by David Lesniak and David Muniz (aka “David” and “Other David”), a couple of American guys with really interesting stories to tell. They set sail from New York to London in 2005 and settled nearby in Richmond, setting up their first stall in East Sheen in 2007 selling their delightful breed of cakes to locals. Since then, their grand idea is to “bridge the culinary and cultural divide between the two sides of the pond whenever and wherever possible”.
The strength of this beautiful little gem of a cake shop is its community spirit. Some of us Londoners might at first be perturbed by the intimate nature of the cake bar, where you walk in and people chat randomly to you, pet your dog, or ask what you’re eating. But soon enough you realise it fulfils a similar function to that which our local neighbourhood pubs did decades ago. (I’ve no idea, I wasn’t alive then, I just read history books…) Anyway, it’s a lovely place to meet locals but I’m sure it’s possible to give-off “don’t talk to me vibes” if you prefer that too.
For a quick idea of what’s on offer, and to get a feel of how wonderful this special gem is, Outsider Tart has a superb website which lists most of their products, and with a link to buy their first book. I have the book, it’s beautifully written and presented, and comes highly recommended.
Perhaps it’s best to label Outsider Tart by what types of bakery it doesn’t do. It doesn’t bake bread. Pretty much everything else is on the menu though: a sizeable range of different types of Brownie, cookie, whoopie pies, and a ridiculous array of cakes from seasonal types like Pumpkin Pie to the amusingly named Blackout, Delta Jelly, and Japanese Fruit cakes.
Although I’ve never ordered myself, Outsider Tart also do a ‘made-to-order’ service.
When you first visit Outsider Tart, be sure to ask for a rundown of what’s on offer that day. Although a somewhat daunting experience to have to decide from the line-up, it’s a real treat to have the whole lot explained to you.
Check-out this selection of mouth-watering photos – this is just one day’s baking output!
Although American Cake Bake is the core product, if you drop-in for a snack, you can wash it down with something from the menu of American soft drinks, a choice of different hot chocolates (optional marshmallow fluff, anyone?), coffees (one of the better places to grab a coffee in Chiswick), speciality teas. Then when you leave, you could take-out a selection of nuts, or purchase products from the eye-watering selection of American imports.
For example, numerous different types of peanut butter, cereals that are hard to find on this side of the Atlantic (Fruit Loops, Honey Maid Grahams, Cap’n Crunch), maple syrups, relishes, molasses, Hershey’s, seasonings, tinned pumpkin. Rather than going on here, check out their range of dry goods online.
If repeated abuse of the cake products here hasn’t already completely rotted your teeth, you’ll find quite a choice when it comes to fizzy drinks. Five types of root beer? Three types of black cherry? The complete set of Fizzy Lizzy natural sparkling fruit drinks? Yes please.
Thursday night is chili / cookie night. This is where you can turn-up on your own or with a friend any time until 10pm and order a bowl of chili for £5 plus a cookie.
The chili is of course the beautiful home-made variety, and the flavours change each week. It’s usually accompanied by some kind of sweet bread to dip in:
Though it can get really busy (sometimes you might have to wait for a stool to come free), there’s always a great atmosphere at chili night and you’d be surprised by how friendly the locals can be. My first chili night, someone passed around a bottle of wine and some paper cups to share.
The latest news at Outsider Tart is that they are extending their space into the shop next door which has been empty for almost a year. I can’t wait to see what they do with the space.
Outsider Tart has quickly become a Chiswick institution – at least as far as I’m concerned. I’ve met people who have come from far and wide just to visit, and it’s one of my first stops when a friend is in town.