He Said/She Said: Emily and Dennis sample St. Louis’ gooey "square beyond compare"When it comes to St. Louis’ most famous sugary slip-up, legend has it that the wrong amount of cake ingredients were mixed together at a local German bakery resulting in the gooey, buttery delight that St. Louisans have been sinking their sweet teeth into since the 1930s. Nowadays, the dessert can be found in bakeries and restaurants all over town, and we’ve been buzzing around on a sugar high for weeks, devouring as much of the sticky delight as possible.
Dennis’ profile: All but the sweetest of the sweet.
Emily’s profile: It’s gooey; it’s sugary. What’s not to like?
7726 Virginia Ave., St. Louis / 314.638.3519
Tue. to Sat. – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
E – Carondelet Bakery has one of the most delectable GBCs around. The crust is light, flakey perfection that melds nicely with the super-sweet gooey topping. Co-owner Linda Smith said it was a baker’s assistant working on the corner of Meramec and Virginia who made the brilliant blunder, and that Carondelet Bakery still uses the original recipe for its gooey filling. She explained that back in the 1930s and ’40s, when there was a bakery on every corner, they all shared basic recipes, and in the case of this plain-dessert-gone-gooey, many local bakeries reaped the benefits – relying on their own individual recipes for the coffee cake dough and the precise goo-to-cake ratio.
D – This was good GBC, nice texture, didn’t kill me with sugar, good mouth feel – around the edges, that is. One venture into the center stopped me cold. I don’t even want to hazard a guess at what this much sugar might do to a 3-year-old … but much like staying out past 2 a.m., nothing good could come of it. So, back to the outskirts I went and stayed there happily for some time, literally chewing up the real estate.
Lubeley’s Bakery and Deli
7815 Watson Road, St. Louis / 314.961.7160
Tue. to Fri. ? 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat. ? 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun. ? 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
E – According to co-owner Robert Lubeley, the bakery has used the same GBC recipe since 1937. It has a thin, cakey bottom layer and a sweet, chewy top. Not a fan of the goo? Enjoy a piece off the edges, which are primarily cake only. I, on the other hand, cut right into the middle, ignoring the outsides completely and savoring one gooey-topped piece after another.
D – I was born and raised in this city by parents of like circumstances, and GBC is ingrained in my psyche. When the family gathers on Christmas, there must be GBC. When the family gathers for birthdays, there must be GBC. When the family gathers … oh, you know the drill. Lubeley’s has always been my family’s GBC of choice, and it’s the standard against which I judge all others. When I bit into this great symbol of my youth, I conjured up all those happy memories of past birthdays, picnics and holidays, hearing Ren and Stimpy singing in the background, “Happy happy joy joy, happy happy joy!”
Eleven Eleven Mississippi (pictured above)
1111 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis / 314.241.9999
Mon. to Thu. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. – 11 a.m. to midnight, Sat. – 5 p.m. to midnight
D – Eleven Eleven focuses on the details in the preparation and presentation of its food, and the GBC is no exception. The flaky top buffered a soft velvet middle sitting on an almost crumbly bottom crust, all dusted with powdered sugar. Most would probably be content if it stopped there, but fortunately Eleven Eleven doesn’t. The ice-cold glass of milk that arrived in tandem with the GBC forever changed the way I will eat this dessert. The two went together like Jenny and Forrest. Very clearly my favorite of all we tasted.
E – I order the GBC at Eleven Eleven on a regular basis, and although it’s always good, some nights produce a more extraordinary result than others. But what I always appreciate is that it’s served in two triangular-shaped pieces, which makes it ideal for sharing. (That is, if you can decide which of you is lucky enough to take down the glass of milk served on the side.) And if you’re looking for an added bonus, enjoy your dessert in the upstairs loft, where you can relax in some of the comfiest lounge chairs around.
4584 Laclede St., St. Louis / 314.361.4848
Mon. to Fri. – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sat. – 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
D – I have a certain set of expectations about this town: People are generally friendly, people pronounce fork as if it were spelled with an ‘a’ (instead of an ‘o’) and dining midweek does not require calling ahead. That’s for cities like New York and Chicago. So it NEVER occurred to me that we would need reservations on a Wednesday night to enjoy a piece of Moxy’s GBC. Lucky for us, we found a place at the bar.
E – Moxy’s version of GBC was cakier than the traditional variety and served with mango sorbet and a blueberry/port reduction. Although the blueberries – which were baked into the cake and also served on the side – dominate the taste, there was still a wonderful hint of butter. It was about half the depth of the traditional gooey treat and but still 100 percent delicious, the blueberry and mango flavors working perfectly together.
D – This is not your mom’s GBC, but much like the original, this Frankenstein will certainly be chased by locals with farks.
Wiliker's Restaurant & Bar
1566 Country Club Plaza Drive, St. Charles / 636.947.1441
Mon. to Thu. – 11 a.m.to10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
D – Chocolate gooey butter cake. These four words rousted me from a dreary afternoon in front of a spreadsheet at work and sent me blindly hurtling into the wilds of St. Charles. The décor of Wiliker’s struck me first. It was what Applebee’s tries so hard to recreate but can never achieve: a genuine neighborhood restaurant and gathering place. The GBC to go comes in the very small (by the piece), very large (half sheet, roughly 15 by 24 inches) and what can only be called ridiculously huge (whole sheet). Or feel free to enjoy a piece in the restaurant – the combination was certainly worth the quest.
E – The bottom was a dense chocolate cake (the consistency of a brownie) topped with a layer of traditional goo. Although the cake layer on its own was a bit dry, the two tastes merged nicely together.