Over the course of last week, I tried many of LA's finest cakeries (places famous for cake, as opposed to bakeries maybe famous for bread and pastries).
This list is nowhere near exhaustive. A girl can only eat so much cake in one week, even with help. But, to make a long story short, I was pretty disappointed by this city's offerings. Even the most expensive cakes fell short, in one case so much so that I've e-mailed the owners to ask what the heck went wrong last week (hopefully a fluke, because otherwise I don't understand the hype). I'll try to be brief, and go from favorite to least favorite.
Doughboy's $5.50 red velvet. This was my favorite cake. It's not fancy, but it is delicious. Incredibly moist, lightly chocolately, vividly red, with a tangy smooth cream cheese frosting. For the price you get a large mini cake, enough for two or three people for sure. Plus, it's better the second day and still good the third day.
Berolina $3 (I think) Princess cake. The cake and jam were great, but the custard was closer to whipped cream than custard for my taste and the marzipan was rolled to thick. If you look at the photos you can also tell that there's a gap between the marzipan and cake, which tells me the marzipan is too dry and/or too thick.
Porto's ($2.75 or less per slice):
Carrot cake--great flavor, a little mushy in texture
Cuban cake--way too sweet, with very little of the advertised brandy soaked flavor
Opera cake--too heavily coffee flavored for me and the coffee was a little bitter, but that's a personal preference.
Sweet Lady Jane ($7 a slice)
Lemon curd cake--not enough lemon curd, and the cake was so dry it fell apart on the fork. I served this to guests and the first comment out of everyone's mouth was "this would be good if it didn't fall apart because it's so dry." I had two crowds sitting separate from each other, so it was independently thought that there was someting really wrong with this cake.
Triple Berry Shortcake--fantastic flavor, but again the cake part was dry. Is this a fluke? My friend who suggested this said it tasted nothing like the one his mom bought a month ago.
Chocolate raspberry--fine, but I can get a good chocolate cake with ganache frosting at a number of less expensive places.
Plus, the piped decorations on Sweet Lady Jane cakes are so darkly colored that they taste like food coloring. The light green, specifically, smelled stinky (my sister said it tasted like sewage).
Delice Monte Blanc ($5+)
Terrible. Just plain terrible. First of all, I can't believe the guy suggested to me when I said I'd like to try a classic cake. There's zero cake involved. It's two layers of sugary, flavorless mousse (white chocolate and dark chocolate, though the dark chocolate was more like a pale milk chocolate) sandwiching two layers of soggily sweet almond cookies. The chocolate curls on top were rock hard and sugary as well. It was basically one big sweet mess that no one wanted to eat, and that no one should rightfully call cake. It was barely passable as mousse.
Berolina's chocolate croissant was INCREDIBLE, and for that alone I will be going back to the bakery. So buttery and flakey, and such a better value than the "cake."
I know I still need to try Susina and Bluebird Cafe (the line was too long there when I stopped in). Anywhere else? This group of bakeries was, to be frank, kind of disappointing.
So far, my favorites are:
Doughboy's for homey, no frills cake
Buttercake on Pico/Manning for basic cupcakes
Amandine for fancier cake