UPDATE: I've never seen a place peak, and begin to decay, so rapidly. I came to Cake Eater probably four days in a row right after they opened in April 2010. I was amazed by every single cupcake of theirs that I tried.
But after three visits in late April and early May, I noticed a sudden and dramatic decrease in quality. For one thing, the cupcakes became dry, the frosting was overly sweet, and the flavors didn't stand out. This happened three times in a row. A few other vegans I know were also disappointed by the cupcakes here, and one of them said his faux hostess cupcake was "vile."
The non-cupcake baked goods are consistently mediocre, at best. Their gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie is a crispy, unsatisfying piece of slate, with almost burnt edges. The muffins were also overly browned, dry and looked amateurish.
I came back again on May 8th and the cupcakes this time around were decent, but still not as good as they used to be. The strawberry shortcake cupcake had great taste and interior texture, but was almost chewy on the top and outside. The chocolate cream cheese cupcake had good texture, but the cream cheese didn't taste like anything other than a whipped topping.
What went wrong, Cake Eater? I suspect you're making too many flavors for your own good and need to start focusing (offer only four or five flavors daily, not more than that). Also, figure out what you're doing wrong with your muffins, which look nearly burnt and are mealy and dry. Better yet, drop the muffins, scones, cookies and bars. Concentrate your energies. You don't do a good job with non-cupcakes, anyway.
Also, speed up your service at the counter. Each transaction seems to take many minutes, especially if someone orders an espresso-type drink. One person should be in charge of making drinks, while another should handle the money and take orders. Let the line move and, when a drink's ready, the person who ordered it can pick it up at the counter.
Original review: Holy mother Mary, this place is awesome. It easily takes the prize for having the best vegan baked goods in the Twin Cities. The first time I stopped by I had a vegan key lime cupcake ($3) and a cup of loose-leaf tea (~$2). The cupcake was sublime: soft and moist on the inside with just a faint hint of crispiness on the outside. Now that was perfection in baking. The frosting was also wonderfully subdued and not too sugary or buttery.
I was so impressed that I went back the next day and had a vegan gluten-free strawberry cupcake ($3) and a day-old vegan lemon-blueberry muffin ($1). The cupcake was once again superb and this struck me as even more remarkable, because on top of being vegan, it was also gluten-free this time around. Texture issues and consistency can be a problem with gluten-free flours, but Cake Eater has somehow managed to make them non-issues; I was hard-pressed to spot any difference. And it's also vegan, for chrissake! Not to gloat, but gluten-free bakeries like Cooqi couldn't even come close to making something like this.
The lemon-blueberry muffin was also tasty, despite being a day old. It could have been spongier, but maybe it had gone dry since it was over the hill already. That said, it was a great value at only $1.
Cake Eater offers a variety of other vegan options daily. They seem to have two vegan cupcakes (one of which will be gluten-free as well), one or two vegan muffins, some kind of vegan scone, and probably one other random vegan offering (like a raspberry chocolate bar).
My only gripes: seating is limited and kind of cramped up front; and they have an overly-small selection of loose-leaf teas. Kudos to them for having loose-leaf options, but they'd need to add at least another four or five teas to be respectable (one or two more black teas, one or two oolongs, and maybe another green).
On a whole, though, this Cake Eater is a massive net positive for Minneapolis and I can't wait to try more of their inventive, delicious offerings.