A dream of a new spring in NYC.
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. In this review, we recall visits to two restaurants late last year and earlier in this year, before the grey days of Covid. How time has flown by yet also, how it has crawled by. To date, neither have not reopened their doors. We hope very much that they survive this blur of a year – in the interim, we shall dream of a new spring in NYC.
- Dessert destination: Queensyard, located within the Hudson Yards shopping complex, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$-$$$.
- Short and sweet story: Alongside Electric Lemon which we have previously reviewed (see here), Queensyard was an unexpected find in the midst of the sterile steel-and-glass megalith that is Hudson Yards. At Queensyard, we found desserts with a degree of experimentalism rarely seen at the mid-range price bracket in NYC. Beautifully plated in a crescent moon formation, the “Sesame Banofee” ($14) was like no banana split that we have tasted before. Here, tahini banana sorbet and black garlic caramel were embroidered over a banana sliced in half. Fear not, the garlic was expressed most subtly, with the tahini and caramel taking the lead. The “Chocolate Slab” ($16) resembled a square of earth artfully dislodged from the forest floor. Hazelnut, orange, licorice, flax, and parsnip were listed on the menu’s description of this dessert, but for us, this was quite simply, a lovely chocolate dessert. As for the “Baked Alaska” ($14), it was a beautiful beehive meringue, hiding an interior of coconut cake and surrounded by droplets of passionfruit sauce.
- Dessert destination: Le Jardinier, Midtown, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$$.
- Short and sweet story: Located further uptown, Le Jardinier has to be one of the most beautiful restaurant venues in NYC. Designed in fifty shades of grey and green, moss-green bucket seats, cream banquettes and marble tables provide the seating in a space highlighted by cylindrical pendant lighting and bordered by monstera plants and leafy trees. Request a side seat at the corner banquettes, unless you don’t mind being squashed besides a stranger when seated at the more crowded centre tables. Similar to Queensyard above, the sweet offerings at Le Jardinier were distinguishable, and memorable, for their affordability, creativity and artistry. Our first visit more than a year ago now allowed us to have the privilege to sample the terrarium of “Strawberry Granita” ($15), a mix of strawberry mousse enlivened by minty granita. The “Sabayan” ($15) was a fluted vessel of dark chocolate and caramel, and the heaviest of the desserts on offer. And the “Blueberry Lemongrass Eggless Meringue” ($15) was a wonder – not the hard rock meringue that one might be more familiar with, it was rather in mouthfeel, the foam that perches atop a cappuccino.
We miss the NYC that we had grown to love over the last four years here — the endless array of international cuisines to sample, the countless shoes and dresses we whirled around in, all the touristy sights and secret corners of a city, veering from claustrophobic to breathtaking in a single step. Today’s NYC is not yesteryear’s, and it will not be tomorrow’s. After the winter, in the new spring, we hope to find a new NYC, and with it, exquisite plated desserts such as the above.