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Hunting down that outrageous carrot cake!

For three years I have been going to both Alcove (Los Feliz) and Aroma (Studio City) at least once a week. One of the biggest draws for me has been the carrot cake. It's two layers of the most loaded, moist cake (lots of actual sweet carrot, raisins, chopped walnuts and spices), with a very generous layer of sweet cream cheese frosting on top and between the two layers. It was (next to mom's) the most perfect carrot cake I have ever had.

But at Alcove it is no more. They have switched bakers!! And while they say that their customers prefer the new version, I find the cake void of raisins (which made it so sweet and moist) and sadly lacking in carrot. The frosting is very obviously made with a salted butter; the saltiness being obvious on first bite.

Happily; though it's a bit of a drive because I live in Los Feliz, I can still get the original carrot cake at Aroma - who actually carries three different kinds of carrot cake (bundt, the original 2-layer and the new 3-layer). Though there is a link between these two cafes, they each maintain their own set of vendors.

But here are my 2 big questions:

1. Who makes that outrageous 2-layer carrot cake, still sold at Aroma?

2. Which do you prefer? (The original 2-layer, or the new 3-layer)

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  1. I really like the carrot cake at The Cheesecake Factory. I've never tried the cake at Aroma but now im gonna have to. Liz have you had the carrot cake at Cheesecake Factory? If so how does it compare?

    7 Replies
    1. re: waxfondler

      My mom is a carrot cake goon, and oddly enough, CF is one of her absolute favorites. I'll have to ask her if she has any other faves.

      And if you're in a pinch near TJ's, they do a pretty good frozen version.

      1. re: Emme

        LOL! Please do ask her -- I'm a carrot cake "goon" myself.

        1. re: Emme

          TJ's USED to have a great frozen carrot cake. They changed it last year and is now nowhere near as good, though it looks fancier.

        2. re: waxfondler

          I haven't ... and I have heard Claim Jumper is good. I was kinda turned off by Cheesecake Factory. Their restaurants are not as well bussed or cleaned as they should be. Late at night they leave tables unbussed and they seldomn clean under the tables before they seat new people. Just poor management. It's a shame because I do like most of their food. I'm fussy about clean restuarants.

          1. re: LizGraphix

            Get it to go... but beware, if you don't like whipped cream on your cream cheese frosted carrot cake, be sure to make a special request to hold it.

            1. re: LizGraphix

              Claim Jumper is one of the best I've ever had. It's a one layer cake loaded with walnuts, raisins, pineapple and coconut. Nice thick cream cheese frosting. Actually better chilled. Yum.

            2. re: waxfondler

              My wife says the best carrot cake is at Shakers in Glendale. If you do a search, you will see that others agree. Since I am on a diet, I cannot vouch for others....

            3. I don't know if it's just me or my bad luck...but almost every dessert I've tried at Alcove has been a disappointment -- either because it's dried out or just not super-delicious. In all fairness, I have not tried their (past or present) carrot cake. I agree with Emme in that TJ's frozen carrot cake is perfect for when you need a quick fix. A friend of mine raves about CostCo's carrot cake, but I found it to be too sweet and lacking in essential-chewy-chunkiness from nuts and raisins. If you bake, check out this recipe from Epicurious.com.


              1. I like the one from Porto's Bakery, and this coming from someone whose not crazy on carrot cake.

                1. I second the vote for Portos.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: terim

                    Thirded. Porto's carrot cake is great.

                  2. I've never had it, but I've heard the carrot cake at "Stonefire Grill" is one of the few things worth ordering there. I wish I had known that the one time I'd gone there, cause I got a chicken dish that was greasy and disgusting. But hey, maybe just go for the cake?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ReelMike84

                      I have had the carrot cake at Stonefire Grill and it certainly ranks up there among the best. Really moist but chunky and a good cream cheese frosting to cake ratio. That being said I also like almost everything else there especially the tri tip and the salads.

                    2. My husband likes the carrot cake at Leda's bake shop, either in cake form or as a cupcake.

                      Don't know who makes Aroma's. you should ask them

                      1. the carrot cake at staples center is very good!

                        1. I believe that Auntie Ems made the cakes & cupcakes sold at the Alcove, so they are probably the source of the old carrot cake. I've had Auntie Ems carrot cupcakes, and they are DELICIOUS!!!

                          Auntie Em's Kitchen
                          4616 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bluemonster

                            Agreed. Auntie Em's does a fine carrot cake. Also love the coconut cupcakes.

                            1. re: bluemonster

                              Oh wow!!! If you're right you've made my day!! I'm going to wite to them and find out. I had forgot to mention the pineapple and coconut in the cake. I've never had another carrot cake as good. At least Aroma still has it.

                            2. Literati II at Wilshire and Bundy has an outrageous slice of carrot cake for dessert. Gigantic, moist, full of all the good stuff, great frosting.

                              1. I read the thread posts so this is still on topic, but I like the carrot cake from Mani's Bakery

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: apple7blue

                                  We love the carrot cake at Wild Thyme in Pasadena. I used to work close to there, and it was a favorite of my co-workers (and myself!).

                                2. I love it at Brent's deli in Northridge. It's a monstrous four-layer tower that will last for days and days of leftovers. It was delicious because it wasn't too sweet. The cake was moist, the icing tasty but neither too sugary.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: SPAndrea

                                    Sorry but I have to disagree on this one. We eat at Brent's and LOVE it!!! But the carrot cake was a huge disappointment. It was dry. We couldn't finish it. We have faith in the Eclairs however! They are HUGE!!!

                                  2. Liz--I believe the carrot cake at Alcove was made by someone who goes by 'the crazy cake lady' and she's based out of Culver City. I'm a regular at both places and I think she may be just a wee bit off...I was in there once when she came in yelling about a cake. Maybe you can google to find her contact info.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Blakekitty

                                      We did end up confirming (thanks to an earlier poster) that it came from Auntie Em's! We can still get it at Aromas and plan to stop at Aunti Em's!

                                      1. re: russkar

                                        Costco's...Really? Tell me about it!
                                        Is the icing made with real cream cheese...like Auntie Em's? Is the cake moist and loaded with raisins like Auntie Em's?

                                          1. re: russkar

                                            Strongly disagree on Costco. I've had their carrot cake many times over the years, and it doesn't begin to compare to places mentioned here (Porto's, Auntie Em's, etc.). What Costco calls carrot cake is more like spice cake with raisins (no hint of a presence of carrots), and the frosting is over-sweet. It's nowhere near as moist as a real carrot cake. The appeal of the Costco cake is price, not quality.

                                        1. re: russkar

                                          I love carrot cake and love Costco cake (chocolate) but, Costco's carrot cake is not good.

                                        2. I'm a real carrot cake nut myself. Decades ago, my friend's then-wife used to make my favorite carrot cake and, although I've somewhat enjoyed the carrot cakes I've been ordering in the years since (I've tried many of the places listed in this string), none has really nailed it.

                                          Last week, I was having dinner at the Parkway Grill. They had carrot cake on the dessert menu. I kind of challenged the waiter by saying "Lookit, I'm thinking about ordering the carrot cake 'cause I love carrot cake, but I'm looking for the carrot cake of my dreams and if this isn't it, I'll get something else". Well, he excitedly assured me that it was and, I have to say, it WAS really great, although not what I was expecting. It was a deconstructed carrot cake which at first glance made me regret my choice, but once I tasted, it I loved it. It really had that special "carrot cake thing" that I've been missing. It was just right in my book.

                                          I don't know if it's a regular menu item though.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: jerry200

                                            Could you describe how it was deconstructed?

                                            1. re: la tache burger

                                              There was a compote of a fruit/sugar/spice as one element. A mound of the creamcheese frosting element as another element. If memory serves, the frosting element sat on the cake element. There was also a thin sugary/citrusy white syrup that was on the plate.

                                            2. re: jerry200

                                              I have yet to be disappointed by ANYTHING at the Parkway Grill! That banana dessert they have is a toe curly and is on our top 5 list!

                                            3. We have a tree trimming party year with pretty much the same group of friends. They all love the Carrot Cake we get frozen at Smart and final. I know, shudder. It has good flavor and yes, the cream cheese icing.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Wes

                                                Shudder? Are we snobs or something? I feel like a Chowhound will sniff out the best eats be it Smart and Final or in my case Mani's on Fairfax (see above) . . .

                                              2. Have you tried the Carrot Cake from Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose. It is great, but then again everything there is great.
                                                I also have to agree with the Cheesecake Factory's Carrot Cake- yummy. I have not had the Carrot Cake at Aroma or Alcove so I can't compare but good luck with your search.

                                                1. just had a carrot cake that was off-the-hook from PATTICAKES in altadena. rife with carrots, just the right amount of raisins, creamy cheesy frosting that wasn't too sweet. suggest special ordering so it's extra fresh.

                                                  1. Carrot cake is my favorite dessert and I am 55 y.o. so I have had lots. I haven't found anything good amongst the coffee places (starbucks/its a grind/peets/coffee bean.) I vote for Costco. It always satisfies - and the best thing about it is - after the first piece, there is plenty left!!!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: david.placek

                                                      I have only had it once at the WLA Bossa Nova on Pico, but I thought it was quite good.


                                                    2. Got my husband's BDay cake at the new branch of Susiecakes in Newport & everyone loved it!!