Working in a workout of high-impact desserts.
Long-time readers of this dessert blog will know that we have moaned on quite a few previous occasions that many a restaurant in New York, overwhelmingly fail…and fail tremendously… at executing memorable dessert epilogues to an otherwise wonderful meal. An uninspired plate of cookies, a stale slice of cake or a careless plop of ice cream does not constitute a proper dessert in a restaurant. It’s a tragedy that leaves these Dessert Correspondents especially, in a bamboozled state. Why the anti-climax?! 😦 It has thus been our mission to seek out the New York restaurants who do afford more considered attention to the dessert menu. You can imagine our surprise when we recently discovered such a restaurant in a new area of New York known more for human congestion and a gleaming futuristic sculpture, than for its culinary offerings. Not situated in the shopping centre itself, but rather across from the Vessel, and several floors up a whooshing lift in a hotel, Electric Lemon is a rather curious concept. Upon exiting the elevator, to the right is a sunlit cocktail bar with skyline views, and to the left is a dining area graced with cathedral-high windows. It’s a positively beautiful space – perfect for languid weekend brunches, date nights and even for bringing visitors and the parents. There’s also a dramatic outdoor area, complete with a panoramic view of the Hudson River and New Jersey, and a peculiar wire face sculpture reflecting in the mirror surface of a pool.
As all good restaurants must do, Electric Lemon offers a seasonally-changing menu. Across two visits, we have sampled six different desserts. All priced at $12, this must be New York’s best-value restaurant dessert spot. And thank God, you won’t find a soporific cake slice, brownie, cookie, tiramisu, sundae here. In the summer, the “Watermelon Semifreddo” ($12) was a show-stopper, following the trompe l’oeil dessert trend that we have investigated in a previous dessert adventure post. Half-moons of pale pink watermelon semifreddo sat on a bed of basil and verjus granita. One spoonful of this was akin to eating snow on a humid New York summer day. On a recent visit in the early days of autumn, the “Caramelized Apple” ($12) replaced the watermelon dessert. Here, poached apple balls resembling little eggs saw next to a kataifi nest that floated in a pool of caramel. Decadent to the extreme. We also tried the mini “Glazed Cider Doughnuts” ($5), with which we recommend a strong coffee to balance the sweetness.
On the menu on both of our visits were three other desserts. The “Frozen Yogurt” ($12) might perhaps be the dessert that holds greatest appeal for the Equinox gym crowd — think wheatgrass-like smoothie re-imagined into “healthy dessert” form. Yogurt swirled with juiced green herbs and with “lovage” meringue. Being incorrigible sweet tooths, we preferred the “Strawberry & Cream” ($12), strawberry-flavoured meringue boats filled with cream cheese mousse and with edible nasturtium and other florals scattered over for a delicate springtime style. Of all the desserts at Electric Lemon though, the “Chocolate Moon Rock” ($12) will probably be the dessert that we return for. We were almost turned away by the thought of goat’s milk ice cream and black sesame on the menu, but keeping a (very) open mind, we ordered. What arrived as a pebble-looking creation, tasted like a dark chocolate concoction with the texture and density of a fudge brownie, smothered in a crispy layer of black sesame and honeycomb. You know a dessert is really good when these Dessert Correspondents stop talking, stop analyzing, stop dissecting and also, stop photographing…. for just a moment.
When one lives in NYC long enough, one develops a certain degree of expectation. Expectation as to work competency and career progression, expectation as to relationships and friendships, expectation as to restaurants and their food offerings. Having read many mehhhhh reviews of the Hudson Yards restaurant precinct, and not particularly excited to dine inside a hotel, let alone a hotel connected to a gym, (consider it a PTSD-symptom of our time in Asia where most restaurants are in hotels or shopping centres), we expected our visit to Electric Lemon to be a one-time hook-up, the type where you might recall snapshots of the action, but not the name. Low expectations do however, sometimes result in great surprises. Presenting a dessert menu of truly exciting creativity and unbelievable affordability, Electric Lemon was a jolt to the senses, and one that exceeded all expectations.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Electric Lemon at the Equinox Hotel, Floor 24, Hudson Yards, Manhattan 10001.
- ☑ Budget: $$-$$$.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Restaurant dessert.
- ☑ Must-eat: “Chocolate Moon Rock.”
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Working in a workout of high impact desserts.