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Dining Out: Have a cupcake craving? TREAT is sweet option

The Columbian
Published: July 30, 2010, 12:00am

Why: Owner Stephanie McNees opened TREAT on June 1. The space formerly occupied by Heart of the Home, between Woody’s Tacos and Java House, now serves up premium cupcakes that rival the best Portland has to offer.

McNees rotates through flavors with eight daily varieties that reflect the season at hand plus a few traditional options.

With the “Minis on Monday” promotion, TREAT offers mini cupcakes and a 5-for-the-price-of-4 mini deal. Ingredients such as berries are locally sourced and cupcakes are made fresh every morning. McNees says the triple chocolate cupcake is a favorite among customers. It’s made with Valrhona chocolate, which she says is the first choice for bakers that bake quality into their products.

Atmosphere: TREAT is decorated in cool neutrals in beige, ivory and tan, with dark wood tables and chairs and a wall bench with a padded woven backrest. Seating is also available in an indoor courtyard shared with other tenants in the complex.

One-inch ivory tiles on the wall behind the counter and horizontally stacked and painted boards on the wall opposite the counter add some interest and give the space a modern, streamlined character. Lighting is mostly natural from the large, west-side windows, but there is a track of halogen lights that run the length of the space above the seating.

What I Tried: My dining companion and I tried the orange cupcake, the peanut butter and chocolate cupcake, and the red velvet. I also took home a box of six with two additional flavors — a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting and a vanilla cupcake with a sweet cream vanilla frosting.

My favorite was the red velvet. This cupcake is made with butter instead of oil. It was the best red velvet cupcake I’ve had. The cream cheese frosting sat perfectly on top and was an adequate amount for a gourmet cupcake — right at the brink of overload. It was very sweet but the flavor of the cream cheese wasn’t lost amid the sugar.

The orange cupcake, with its subtle orange flavor, reminded us of orange cream soda.

The most unique of our dine-in selections was the peanut butter and chocolate cupcake. The butter cream frosting had a whipped, melt-away texture compared to the frosting of our other selections. The chocolate cake had peanut butter chips mixed in.

Of the take-home selections, I was most impressed with the triple chocolate cupcake. It was obvious to me, after tasting it, why this is a customer favorite. It is extremely rich and decadent, with a chocolate flavor that lingers.

Menu Highlight Beyond What I Tried: McNees serves Counter Culture coffee, which she says is the East Coast’s equivalent to Stumptown.

PG Tips tea, an assortment of juices and milk are also available. Ice cream sandwiches and cookies are for sale as well.

Other popular cupcake flavors include snickerdoodle, peanut butter and jelly, a citrus variety, and a white, lemon or vanilla cake with raspberry butter cream frosting that incorporates fresh pureed raspberries.

Other Observations: There really isn’t a lot to observe other than the tidy display of cupcakes and the simplicity of the shop’s concept and design. If you have $2.25 and get a craving for something sweet, TREAT will certainly make you feel special. For the best selection, arrive early in the day.

Cost: Regular-size cupcakes are $2.25 each. Minis are $1.25 each.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Telephone: 360-750-0811

Where: 210 W. Evergreen Blvd., Suite 600, Vancouver

Health Score: Treat has received a pre-opening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection sometime in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.