Summer brings back Portillo’s tasty lemon cake

Portillos lemon cake is back through August.

Portillo’s lemon cake is back through August.

Deanna Hampton, Staff Writer

Portillo’s (555 East 81st Avenue Merrillville IN), also known as the Dog house, is home to Merrillville’s favorite Italian beef sandwiches, burgers, Chicago-style hotdogs, salads and, most importantly, its famous chocolate cake.

Its founder, Dick Portillo hit the nail on the head when investing into this idea which only started as a hotdog cart on the sidewalk. Currently the restaurant came to be what it is today giving birth to three special cakes that Merrillville can’t help but to indulge in; strawberry shortcake, Eclair cake and its chocolate cake.

Each with its own unique flavors and appeal it’s not a surprise that many travel from all sides of the world just to grab a bite. 

Being an employee of the restaurant I saw the regular cakes very often. I became used to the vast interior and lit ceiling with many neon lights and signs, bringing me back in time to where Portillo’s was first created. 

Stepping up to the cashier I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering. 

Then I noticed a sign advertising their brand-new spring addition lemon cake. 

With lemon and citrus being my favorite flavors there was nothing stopping me from getting it. Swiftly I made the addition to my order then ascended down a short hall where I met with an employee that calls out the orders.

Two by three the orders went out in silly rhymes matched with even sillier gimmicks. Excited was an understatement for how I was currently feeling. 

Looking at each of the different cakes I examined each one to note their differences.

The strawberry shortcake was pink and red, took the shape of a circle and was created neatly in a medium sized bowl, with pure white icing and a strawberry on top. Even more interesting was the Eclair cake, which was rectangular and layered like the nine vegetable terrine from “Food Wars”.

In contrast to the strawberry cake the eclair cake consisted of different shades of brown.

The top layer had a dark chocolate coating and separating the layers were light brown graham crackers. A soft beige pudding rested between the crackers and soft hints of whip cream could be smelt. 

The chocolate cake was by far the most known and recognizable, it sported a rich brown color with thick icing separating its two halves.

The last cake but most anticipated was the lemon cake, although having many similarities to the chocolate cake, it’s blaring difference was it’s bright yellow color and pale icing.

Tasting each cake I was able to divulge between the different textures and flavors.

The strawberry cake had a lovely smooth texture to it and with every bite the red berry permeated my senses. Cream cheese frosting that was surprisingly light and a soft spongy cake at the bottom created an aesthetic contrast of textures. 

I was slightly nervous to try the Eclair cake, seeing that i’ve never heard of it before, but those nerves quickly melted away to bliss after my first bite. The slice was slightly cold due to the banana scented pudding, and the chocolate coating molded well with the graham crackers that were easy to chew. 

The chocolate cake had a hefty and satisfying flavor, and it’s icing was creamy and addictive leaving me more full than the other cakes. But leaving just enough room for lemon cake.
This new addition to the cake ranks had a perfect spring time taste.

The first bite was light and airy leaving a refined aftertaste. It reminded me of everything spring should be; bright flowery and pleasant. Before long the lemony aroma became a distant memory as I cleared out the container of all the crumbs. 

Portillo’s cakes were each intricate pieces with many hidden flavorings. They presented themselves to be worthy of time and appreciation especially since the lemon cake is a timley item on the menu. A true hidden diamond in the rough.