Play, Tap Away, Inhale the Baked Goods

Pastry chef Amy Foster rolls chocolate inside dough  for chocolate croissants.
Pastry chef Amy Foster rolls chocolate inside dough for chocolate croissants. (By Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Buzz, the ambitious coffee shop/bakery/dessert lounge that opened a few weeks ago off the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria, is designed to delight those with a sweet tooth, young and old.

This latest venture by Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which operates Evening Star Cafe and other area restaurants, plans to cater to the daytime family crowd with a play area stocked with baking-theme toys. It also will probably attract a solid laptop-toting, caffeine-craving contingent with its expertly brewed Illy brand coffees and free WiFi. And to entice a cosmopolitan after-dinner crowd, it has concocted specialty martinis and warm drinks with a kick and will offer 40 to 50 dessert wines.

But the desserts will whip up the most excitement. Executive pastry chef Lisa Scruggs was deftly churning out buzz-worthy confections on the shop's first day. At the top of the must-try list is the caramel nut cheesecake ($3.95), an individual silky cake topped with buttery caramel and pecans. Also in the stellar category are the creamy, torched-to-order espresso creme brulee ($2.75); the bombe, a small dome of chocolate cake filled with chocolate and passion fruit mousses and topped with a glossy chocolate glaze ($4.25); and the cupcakes ($2.50 each).

Co-owner Michael Babin has his favorites, too. "I love the cinnamon rolls," he says of the delicious buns ($2.25), which taste like feathery doughnuts slathered in cinnamon and sugar. Handmade chocolates (starting at $1.50) also will be a regular feature of the dessert case.

If you crave more than dessert, Scruggs recommends one of the savory pies ($5.95). "We will always have four flavors," she says. "Right now we have jambalaya, chicken pot pie, pulled barbecue pork, and steak and cheese."

Buzz, 901 Slaters Lane, Alexandria. Open 6 a.m. to midnight daily. 703-600-2899;

-- Rina Rapuano

© 2006 The Washington Post Company