So many restaurants fall when it comes to the dessert menu. If they don't have a qualified in-house pastry person, and have not wisely brokered a deal with a top-quality local bakery, the dessert menu can often be the low point of the meal, trumped only by the offering of thin, poor quality coffee.
It seems to me that a large number of Buffalo restaurants have settled for offering dense, overly sweet, tasteless, mass-produced desserts. Certainly the shelf life of a fresh dessert is limited and restaurants have found that thawing out a piece of carrot cake or cheesecake manufactured four states away is an easier and more affordable option than made-from-scratch sweets. Perhaps we should expect an entire course to be sidelined in the lesser restaurants for whom thawing is an actual technique, but I am shocked by the number of pricey restaurants that serve such dreck.
Earlier this week I had a lovely lunch of handmade rigatoni at Trattoria Aroma. It was fantastic. And, although I am not one for dessert at lunch, I was tempted when the waitress espoused her awe and respect for the desserts made daily in Trattoria Aroma's kitchen for it and all of its sister locations.
A quick glance at the menu revealed a Lemon Semifreddo served with a pomegranate and berry sorbetto and dressed with a sauce of blueberries and limoncello. Tiramisu, a Rhubarb Raspberry Crostata and a Triple Chocolate Torte were also available. My lunch mate and I selected a Vanilla Cheesecake prepared with a carrot cake crust. It was flavorful and lovingly augmented by a blood orange and Prosecco sauce and a few scattered candied walnuts. The coffee was good, too.
And desserts don't have to be made by a trained pastry chef, there are a lot of options that an imaginative chef can devise given the desire. At SAMPLE, I recently found sheer joy in a modest serving of miraculous and delicate Coconut Panna Cotta dressed with blueberry compote, mint oil, a small wedge of preserved lemon and a scoop of blueberry custard. Oh, how I wish I had taken a photograph. If that wasn't enough, a French press of good coffee accompanied it.
Who in town serves your favorite dessert (that is not “custard”)?
Is there a particular restaurant that you think hits it out of the park every time?
If you had guests in from out of town and planned to dine out for dessert alone, where would you take them?