Just blocks from the Capitol, a new kind of lobbying is taking place. The Sweet Lobby wants to persuade patrons to put aside partisan differences and simply enjoy a little dessert. After all, even politicians have a hard time arguing when their mouths are full. Not that they could stop themselves from noshing on these boutique baked goods long enough to offer a sound bite longer than “Mmm.”
Vision: Owner Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and her younger brother, store manager Timothy McIntosh, grew up in Trinidad before attending MIT 10 years apart to earn mechanical engineering degrees. Now they specialize in the science of sweets inspired by Parisian patisseries.
Eats: The stars of this tiny treat shop are the French macarons, which are offered in 10 rotating flavors ($1.75 each). Standouts include the sweet-meets-savory hazelnut praline salted caramel, the aromatic chocolate-cassis and the zingy lemon. The creamy sweet coconut was inspired by the siblings’ childhood. “Our mom made ice cream from scratch with coconuts grown in our backyard,” McIntosh Ambrose says. “That was the taste we were going for, but packed into a macaron.” The Barracks Row bakery also offers a dozen types of cupcakes daily ($2.75 each), which might include the Elvis-friendly banana-peanut, the intense midnight dark chocolate or the classic red velvet. If none of the available flavors hit your sweet spot, you can design the palm-sized pastry of your dreams and order a batch for consumption in the not-so-distant future ($2.75 each with a two-dozen minimum and a $10 design fee).
Drinks: Beverage choices are limited to bottled water ($2), Perrier ($2.50) and Izze sodas ($2.50). McIntosh Ambrose helped develop three caffeine-free loose-leaf teas, but they’re available only as a take-home product. Choose between a soothing green with lemongrass and mango; a perky orange-ginger rooibos; and a flower-powered Ceylon with hibiscus petals ($14 per tin).
Atmosphere: Chocolate brown and regal gold dominate the color scheme of this slender space, but no one’s really looking at the decor. The display cases filled with a multihued multitude of tasty treats are what pack the place with dessert lovers of all ages.
» 404 8th St. SE; 202-544-2404, Sweetlobby.com (Eastern Market)
Written by Express contributor Nevin Martell
Photos by Arianne Shepherd and Nevin Martell