It's really the perfect spot for a Saturday night date. However, I first experienced bb’s as a ritzy dessert dive.
Hendricks Street is full of hidden surprises. First, I discovered Aardwolf for some craft beers, then Vee’s for post-beer pizza, then La Nopa for Cinco De Mayo Margs, and, finally, bb’s. While the restaurant serves dinner and has a full menu, I was there to meet my friends for some cake.
The place is an inconspicuous little square dropped between large buildings, busy overpasses, and the traffic of downtown streets. There’s a little sign and not much light on the outside. But, just as you do to turn in, you can see the place is full of people – even on a sleepy Wednesday night.
Imagine the Clientele
If Dick Tracy was a fan of German Chocolate Cake, I’m sure he’d be a regular here. He might even join Don Draper for a late-night cocktail. Especially after a long day of working at Everbanks or Fanatics. Maybe one Manhattan before taking on that I-95 commute. But back to bb’s.
Babies & bb’s
I met some girlfriends there to celebrate a baby boy who should be making his grand debut the following week. OK, it was more for Ashley, the expecting mom. A night out before many nursing nights in. This spot is one of her faves. She lives for the Oreo Cake and her friend even reserved a slice for her (through a series of phone calls, a trip to Biscotti’s, and other quite determined events).
Looking forward to the midweek fun, I drove my car right up to the restaurant front and inched into a tight corner parking spot. In life, downtown parking insists on always being a risk. I wandered in about 5 minutes or so fashionably late.
I immediately noticed (aside from the ambiance of the dim lights, the buzz of a small restaurant packed, and the straightforward elegance of the wall that doubled as a wine rack) a dessert case full of cakes that were two feet tall! You could see each rich layer stacked one after the other, and a heavy coating of icing peaks curled on every perfect edge.
Choose Your Party Poison
I knew I would be having something sweet, so I got an espresso to accompany my cake of the day. The demitasse came with a lovely little lemon twist (which was a dead giveaway that this was gonna be good). Our server gave us detailed explanations of each cake. Orange cake, chocolate cheesecake, oreo cake, Spring cake, raspberry-filled white cake, peach cobbler, a giant brownie, bread pudding, and much more. And each dish had a delightful name to match. We ordered and got down to brass tax, the baby-naming facts.
All 6 of us ordered our own slice and then sampled each other’s. Those Yelp Elite events just can’t compete with this. Oh, and our GIANT plates showed up with slices that in normal cake circles would really be equivalent to a quarter of the whole cake. There were also chocolate, raspberry, and vanilla designs and flourishes adding just one extra bit of finesse to the experience.
Now, I want Ashley to have as many babies as possible so we can keep going back there and celebrating with her.
You’ll Never Want to Go Home
The last comment about the simply marvelous world of Hendricks Street is this nightmare that occurs nearly every single time I try to head back home. The ramp to go south on I-95 is ALWAYS closed and my GPS cannot adjust so I end up taking this long, slightly panicked, occasionally through an unusual neighborhood, trek home. It’s a startling reminder that no, I am not from this city and I left my backroads and detours in Orlando.
My next journey to the most delicious center of Downtown Jax, took me back to bb's for a birthday celebration with my friend Taffy. This was an appetizer, wine, entree, then dessert level night. I had seared scallops atop a bed of orzo (I think).
This way a few years back, and I remember between sips of wine, sharing my head-over-heels-wanna-marry-this-guy-moment with Taffy. It was a memorable evening. My favorite part of the meal was choosing a giant bowl of berry cobbler. It came with a lit birthday candle sinking into the ice cream scoop. Leaving that evening, I felt the pulse of Jacksonville racing down the Acosta bridge, and the beat of my heart, skipping to thoughts of Michael Salussolia.