Sweet Stuff: Happy Cakes and The Seasoned Chef
The cupcake craze continues with the opening of Happy Cakes in Highland. The tiny shop couldn’t be cuter, with a green and brown motif, a cooler for milk, and stands of pretty cupcakes. We ordered one of each flavor: red velvet, chocolate with chocolate icing, vanilla with passion fruit icing, vanilla with vanilla buttercream, chocolate with vanilla buttercream, and French toast with cinnamon buttercream (the daily special). But as we tasted our way through the flavors, we found the crumb dry—even tough—and occasionally marked with a baking-soda aftertaste. The texture indicates the batter had been beaten long (and for naught, since bits of flour were left unincorporated.) The cupcakes were beautiful to look at but not much to eat—and expensive at $2.50 a piece. That said, we hope this cheerful shop works out its lumps—when they do, we’ll be first in line for a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. 3815 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-3556, www.happycakesdenver.com.
For those who’d like to learn the art of the minicake, the Seasoned Chef cooking school is offering a course called Cupcakes for All Seasons on April 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Chef—and cupcake extraordinaire—Diane Brown will teach you how to make:

  • Classic chocolate with your choice of filling and frosting
  • Lemon with lemon curd filling and lemon chiffon
  • Ginger angel food with ginger cream-cheese glaze
  • Red velvet with traditional white icing
  • South of the border chocolate with ganache
  • Roasted cinnamon ice cream

999 Jasmine St., Suite 100, 303-377-3222, www.theseasonedchef.com

New: Sparrow Market Cafe
The crew behind Sparrow, the popular contemporary American bistro in Governor’s Park, recently opened up Sparrow Market Cafe. This month-old breakfast, lunch, and coffee shop doubles as a mini market—and takes the place of the worn out Seventh Avenue Cafe sandwich shop. Though the surrounding area thrives with Benny’s, Mizuna, Luca d’Italia, Sparrow, and Govnr’s Park, there are few choices for a quick cup of soup, an interesting sandwich, or a fresh pastry (unless you count Mo’s Bagels down the street). Until now.
Sparrow Market Cafe’s menu offers sandwiches stacked with the likes of certified Angus prime rib, horseradish, and Havarti or pit-roast ham with aged Cheddar. The paninis come hot and stuffed with goodies like grilled Mediterranean vegetables, and fresh mozzarella or Parma prosciutto with fontina, roasted peppers, and basil. The eats are fresh and delicious, but we do have one gripe: The panini bread was far too squishy (and ended up soggy) and the ciabatta was so thick it overpowered the sandwich—even with fillings as hearty as shaved roast lamb, cucumbers, tomatoes, Greek yogurt, and onion. Happily, tweaking the breads should be an easy fix for the cafe. Tip: Breakfast lovers, check out the daily oatmeal and granola bar: Grab a bowl, dish up, and then top with your choice of chopped walnuts, dried blueberries, fresh fruit, brown sugar, coconut, and more. 701 Grant St., 303-832-3243, www.sparrowdenver.com

Event: Beef-Tasting Dinner
If there’s a food that’s synonymous with the National Western Stock Show it’s gotta be beef. And now though January 28, Highland’s Garden Cafe celebrates all things cow with a six-course beef-tasting menu. Bring your appetite, because dinner ($65) looks like this: mini burgers on house buns, rare tenderloin tiradito, braised short ribs in broth with winter vegetables, seared sweetbreads on greens, grilled top sirloin with red wine reduction, and (for dessert) chocolate truffles, fruit, and brownies. 3927 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-5920, www.highlandsgardencafe.com

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.