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?! 😦 In this volume of “NYC’s Best Restaurant Desserts,” we feature four casual-but-nice restaurants to to hit up this dreary winter season.
- Dessert destination: Kyu NYC, Soho, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$$.
- Short and sweet story: Before the pandemic, the fall of evening meant strapping on the heels and going out to dinner at the latest “IT” restaurant with a spring in our step. Nowadays, the fall of evening instead means fleeing the city that never sleeps before those who have no place, or no intent, to sleep spread out on the streets like dark shadows. As each month goes by, we see a little bit of pre-pandemic New York returning, and Kyu is one of those restaurants injecting a much-desired flash of glamour back into the city. Kyu’s offerings are a cosmopolitan mix of East-meets-West, and its dessert menu in particular, requires multiple visits. The “Coconut Cake” (our favourite) is a dense cake tower accompanied by a ball of creamy coconut ice cream, and is matched in richness by the “Chocolate Smores Cake” with its orb of banana bourbon ice cream. Those with a sense of adventure should consider the “Soaked Milk Bread,” a creation dripping with soy toffee that looks ultra-sweet but is in fact, not. There are also seasonal desserts that should not be missed — we loved the raspberry vacherin over the late summer.
- Dessert destination: FOB, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
- Budget: $$.
- Short and sweet story: Our neighbourhood of Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights isn’t particularly known for its restaurants. Nonetheless, there are a few gems that we love and which we keep as a closely-held secret. 😛 One of those which we will (begrudgingly) reveal to you is FOB, a Filipino BBQ place. The BBQ meats from FOB are insanely, heart-stoppingly delicious. As for desserts, this may sound slightly odd but we actually love one of its appetizer dishes for dessert. The “Corn Bibingka” ($11) is a study of sweet corn and coconut butter, and savoury rice cake and kesong puti cheese. Rather curious, highly addictive stuff.
- Dessert destination: Bluebird London, Upper West Side, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$$.
- Short and sweet story: As a sister restaurant to Queensyard (a restaurant with excellent desserts), Bluebird is also one of our favourite restaurants in the Upper West Side. It’s spaciously furnished with great views of Central Park, and its British-accented Pan-European fare is easy to love. We have visited several times for brunch, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea, and the signature dessert that we never fail to order is the “Sticky Toffee Pudding” ($20). Served as a mini bundt, it arrives in a saucepan filled with brandy caramel, and wreathed by bowls of orange cinnamon ice cream and shards of chocolate crunch.
- Dessert destination: Zaytina, Nomad/Flatiron, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$$.
- Short and sweet story: Similar to Bluebird, Zaytina is one of those rare spacious restaurants in NYC. Beautifully decorated in light woods and lit by art deco-esque pendants, it serves some very good, albeit somewhat petite-proportioned, Middle Eastern mezze. Middle Eastern desserts are a soft spot for us, and Zaytina offers five. The “Galaktoboureko” ($14) was our favourite: here, semolina custard was swirled with tangy lemon curd and flambeed meringue, with crystals of pistachio and dried olives giving it an interesting salty crunch, and a quenelle of sharp lemon sorbet a stunning end punch. Don’t miss the “Pine Nut Cake” ($18), with a complex interplay of flavours from apricots, apples, grapes, almonds and honey. Accompanied by a shower of barberry granita, the Islak Kek” ($14) (aka chocolate cake) was lovely as well, but somewhat hidden and overwhelmed by the puddle of labneh espuma.