70-30 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 544-0088

Martha's Country Bakery started in Astoria and opened a satellite branch on Austin Street to much fanfare amongst locals. They are literally packed day and night. I arrived there at 10pm and still had to wait for a table in the back to open up. Like the the Union Square cafe, Tisserie (go back one review), Martha's has an ultra-long glass counter where all of their confections are on display, tempting you. Like Tisserie, there are cookies, cupcakes, pies, cake, brownies, and espresso. Unlike Tisserie, Martha's does not have a regular food menu, but there is gelato. There's a little blink-and-you-miss-it sign in the front certifying that it's kosher, should that be an issue, and they have a sugar-free cookie selection.

Martha's has seating in back that's full service. Some have complained about it, wishing that you could just walk in and plop yourself down. I, on the other hand, think it's fine. If Martha's wants to feel more like Cafe Lalo than Starbucks, then that's the way to go. Besides, it ensures that someone cleans the tables, which is more than some a couple of people did at self-seating Tisserie.

I went here with Speeds after our dinner at Pasticcio. We decided to order a slew of things rather than just one, so we could test things out. Speeds ordered a latte and was immediately impressed by how big it was. Recently we had had dinner at Coffee Shop by Union Square, and her after-dinner latte was much smaller. I ordered the Mixed Berry Tart. It was the standard four or five inch in diameter one, not the teeny two-biters, with strawberries, kiwi slices, and blueberries on top. I've always like tarts and this was no exception. Tarts are always a good standby when you don't know what to get, don't want to risk getting something you won't like, and want to look like you're eating something fancy. This I had all to myself, since Speeds doesn't like tarts. Freak.

Next up was the Strawberry Shortcake. There are a number of ways that strawberry shortcakes are made, and I wasn't a very big fan of this particular method. It was good, but not great. It was heavy on the strawberry syrup and cream. Some might like that, but it was was way too sweet and heavy. I always felt that the cream and strawberries should compliment the cake part, but this recipe simply overwhelmed it.

Then came the Vanilla on Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcake. Martha's says that they make 16 varieties of cupcake, and at the rate that the bakery in back was bringing out tray after tray of them to replenish the stocks in the case, they clearly sell well. Speeds is a massive fan of Magnolia's and its brethren's cupcakes, and while she still preferred the Magnolia ones, she definitely enjoyed the one she ate here at Martha's, praising it as "a true buttermilk cupcake".

Finally was the Baklava, which was the best of all of the desserts we tried. Very flaky and not so syrupy that you feel like you're eating a sponge that oozes sugar. We couldn't finish it, but that's less a condemnation on the food than it is on our stomach size.

So Forest Hills finally has a dessert place not only worth going to, but one within walking distance of me. Not only one within walking distance, but one I wouldn't be embarassed taking friends used to high-end Manhattan joints to. Yes, it does get crowded, especially since it's competition is nonexistant, but that's good. Maybe it'll encourage some.

UPDATE 9/10/07:
Without boring y'all with detail, I went back a couple of times in the last week and tried a few more desserts here at Martha's with Bro. Plain Cheesecake: Much more light and fluffy than the cheesecakes I'm used to. Almost like the batter was whipped. Bro liked it. I prefer my cheesecakes a little more dense. Seven Layer Cake: chocolate and light. Very smooth. Bro and I both liked it. Alas, it was very very sweet. So having not had coffee on hand while eating it, I was unable to finish it completely. Black Forest Cake: Layered chocolate cake, cream, and black cherry jam. Like the seven layer cake, it was as light as a down pillow, but since it wasn't as sweet, it was far more enjoyable. All of these cake slices, it should be noted, are huge. Finally, the Cranberry Walnut Tart: Very good, but kinda dry and would be do well to be ordered with some ice cream on the side. I'm thinking vanilla.

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