If you venture into the basement level of Pryde's Old Westport, you can't escape the wonderful smells wafting from The Upper Crust Bakery. The air is thick with the homey aroma of baking, which trails fingers under your nostril pulling you toward the tiny shop in the back of the store.
"How do you avoid crossing the line and being pulled back into the store?" my shopping companion asks one of the Pryde's employees.
"I don't," he laughs, while patting the belly under his apron.
The Upper Crust Bakery specializes in pies and is open only on Fridays and Saturdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The tiny footprint and limited availability make trips to the pastry case there feel like important journeys where your choices are more weighted than at other bakeries that offer six or seven bites at the cinnamon roll each week. If you choose poorly, you're waiting at least six days to remedy your mistake with a slice of peach pie.
So I felt some pressure in buying a frosted banana cookie this past Saturday. Most of the Upper Crust's cookies are the size of saucer plates, but the frosted banana was a more manageable, dinner-roll-sized confection.
I'll start by saying that I'm still not exactly sure how to feel about this cookie. And I'm also fairly certain that "cookie" is a misnomer. I hesitate to say it's a cake because on the underside of the cardboard pastry box, the Upper Crust informs me that "cake is for sissies." But this tasted like a tea cake. However, only sissies definitely know what tea cakes taste like, so it certainly couldn't be that.
I think it's a cross between a banana muffin and banana bread. The thick icing is the most striking element, lending a rich, buttery sweetness that cupcake shops would be wise to emulate. It's sweet without being cloying. It's also the weirdest cookie I've ever eaten.