Pantry’s Best — Shanghai, China
When Illinois-native Mark Huetsch began making his grandmother’s small-batch pies and cakes for friends and family in Beijing, few would have placed bets that it would eventually turn into a sweet little empire. This year alone, Pantry’s Best has opened two outposts in Shanghai, the newest one in the basement of the swanky all-white Arabesque luxury mall, L’Avenue designed by architect Jun Aoki. While the other Pantry’s Best at K11 mall is basically a concession stall with no seating, L’Avenue offers seating and cake for shopaholics taking a break from retail therapy at Prada and Louis Vuitton upstairs. The interior design - by local firm Luk Studio - anchored by mismatched Eames-like chairs and blonde wood tables, is unapologetically frothy whimsy, but in a good way. The space opens towards the mall on three sides, with the fourth taken up by the counter display of radiantly hued cupcakes, chocolate glazed confections and other sugar-loaded treats. Rising from the centre of the room is a stylized tree, its ribbed trunks made of individual rods that float up towards a ceiling of waves that, depending on who you ask, resemble either soft-serve ice-cream or cupcake icing. Depending on the menu’s seasonality, a decadent mocha coffee cake might be found amongst a classic apple pie, a bacon and maple bourbon cupcake and a salted caramel pumpkin cake. It is all, literally, a real treat.