Oh dear. What have chef Tiffany MacIsaac and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group folks done to Ballstonians? Their new Arlington Buzz Bakery will be habit-forming.
This is not your Alexandria’s Buzz Bakery, which is doing just fine, by the way. But when the Ballston location’s doors open officially on Monday, instead of an old-school glass case and baskets filled to the brim, customers will see a carefully curated display of daily samples on custom-made cake risers and glass pedestals topped with stunning hand-blown Italian glass domes.
Don’t be fooled; the Ballston Buzz crew will be baking in small batches all day long, storing the fresh goods in racks under the counter. The chef’s schedule: cupcakes, four times a day; cookies, nine times a day. So chances are good that something warm and fresh will be on hand. That includes daily waffles in the morning, with a toffee-bacon version as the first flavor for debut week.
“I wouldn’t try to change the vibe at the old Buzz,” the 30-year-old pastry chef says. “It has a cult following and will stay the same.” But this sister location is allowing her to stretch her wings a bit and help redefine what a bakery can be. Every conversation with MacIsaac reveals ideas she’s working on and things she wants to try.
Part of her success as a pastry chef is being able to transform familiar favorites into clever creations, such as whole-wheat “pop tarts” filled the lemon curd, “Hostess” cupcakes and red velvet bread pudding. Gluten-free customers can look forward to a morning muffin, creme brulees and two flavors of cupcakes. “That’s a start,” she says of the GF assortment. “I want to do much more.”
The cold stuff -- mud pies, a lemon curd-cream cheese pie with poppy seed whipped cream, individual cheesecakes -- gets shown off as well, in a glass-walled ice-box cube at the far end of the sleek counter. Glass-door refrigerators hold pints of ice creams and sorbets, popsicles and rolls of slice-and-bake cookie dough to take home.
“The flavors will rotate so often that I couldn’t commit to nicely designed labels,” MacIsaac says. On Monday, customers will find ice creams in four flavors: exotic (a house specialty at Birch & Barley), oat, malt and a regrettably fabulous peanut butter crunch, with salted pretzels.
NRG co-owner Michael Babin says the space has come together in about six months. He’s especially proud of a bar opposite the takeout counter, where people will be able to drink coffee in the morning and enjoy a range of special cocktails on weekends till midnight. And he’s psyched to offer craft-roasted coffee from Mad Cap Coffee Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich., exclusively in the Washington area. Loose-leaf Devi teas will be bagged and/or steeped in individual pots.
MacIsaac hopes to fill the display shelves at the front with more goods to take away, including jars of dry cookie mixes (“as soon as I find just the right jars”) and more. In time, she says, she’ll take over the bar to do occasional dessert tastings.
“It’s like my dream job,” she says. The new Buzz “is going to be exactly what I wanted -- but a thousand times more beautiful.”
You’ve been warned, Ballstonians.