My friend who manages a prominent downtown restaurant was having the opposite of a sugar rush. Call it a sugar bummer. The reason: the decline of dessert-eating.
He blamed the plummeting pastry profits at his place (sadness makes him alliterate) on the increase in portion sizes of entrées in recent years. When his customers do order dessert, he said, it’s usually one item shared by two or more people.
That’s something I’ve noticed in my own restaurant eating habits. Despite my heroin-like sugar addiction, I rarely order any sweet treat after dinner these days. Alone in my kitchen at 3 a.m.? That’s a different story.
It’s not as though eateries aren’t offering tasty pastries anymore. Musing over a pre-dawn slice of pound cake recently, I thought our readers might appreciate a short list of some desserts in this town that are worth saving a little room for — or better yet, worth eating first. Think of it as a Save the Sweets charitable cause.
No column about desserts in Fort Worth could be legitimate if it didn’t include — nay, start with — the Black Forest cake ($2.95 per slice) from Swiss Pastry Shop (3936 W. Vickery Blvd.). The light, airy treat is nothing like a traditional Black Forest cake. It’s a simple amalgam of eggs, cane sugar, and crushed almonds baked into crisp meringue layers separated by sweetened whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
The Arlington version of old-school dessert greatness has to be the Grand Marnier chocolate soufflé ($8.50) at Cacharel Restaurant (2221 E. Lamar Blvd.). Towering over the rim of its soufflé dish like the foam on a good cappuccino, the luscious stuff breaks at the slightest touch of a spoon. The dish, much like the place itself, is slavishly traditional but still relevant thanks to its unflinching quality. If you’re from Arlington, Cacharel’s fluffy molten chocolate dish might have been ordered by your parents the night you were conceived. In many ways, you owe it your life.
Speaking of sexy French desserts, the ile flottante (floating island) ($10) at Saint Emilion Restaurant (3617 W. 7th St.) is a masterpiece of elegant simplicity. Its airy meringue hovers over a pool of crème anglaise, topped with caramel and sliced almonds. The stuff turns Fort Worth’s social elite into drooling Labradors licking their bowls clean.
If the title of state dessert of Texas exists, I’m nominating the Granny Clare citrus and browned butter upside-down cake ($7) at Ellerbe Fine Foods (1501 W. Magnolia Ave.). The decadent comfort throwback features a burnt orange crème anglaise, Grand Marnier-soaked raisins, and brown sugar cream. The fact that Chef Molly McCook uses locally sourced ingredients helps make my case.
Exercise a little self-control at dinner, so you can lose it during dessert. You can always box half of your dinner and have it the next day … or at 3 a.m., right after another few bites of dessert.
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