Ah, dessert. The top coat to our polish, the caboose to our five-course dinner train. We await you with baited breath, save room for you through thick and thin. This is our ode to New York’s finest.
1 Bodega Negra | Don Huevo
If ever a dessert could talk, we'd vote for Bodega Negra's Don Huevo as prime candidate. Executive Pastry Chef Mauricio Santelice's matryoshka doll of the dessert world, a mustachioed sugar rush full of dark secrets and surprises, is as visual an experience as it is gustatory. Piping hot caramel is poured over Don Huevo's fragile white chocolate shell, disintegrating his exterior to reveal a decadent bittersweet molten lava cake awaiting indulgence as his chocolate scorpion companion looks on from the plate's sidelines. So, what would Don Huevo's fateful last words be? We'll leave that to la imaginación.
355 West 16th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues (inside Dream Hotel)
2 The NoMad | Milk & Honey
Let's take a moment to rewind to our childhoods. A cup of warm milk with honey as bedtime's herald or that bowl of Cheerios serving as before-school fuel, simple yet full of nostalgia. Now, picture the love child of these two old-school staples, dressed to the nines and plated to perfection, reappearing in significantly more sophisticated form as The NoMad's Milk & Honey dessert. Honey oat shortbread joins wafer-esque dehydrated milk foam and honey brittle, forming a substructure for glossy milk ice quenelles finely striped with buckwheat honey. Too pretty to eat? Maybe. Too good to resist? Definitely.
1170 Broadway between 27th and 28th Streets
3 Narcissa | Toasted Fennel Cheesecake with Grapefruit & Chartreuse
While incorporating veg into desserts isn't exactly a new concept, culinary cool kids have taken it a step further by getting a little more inventive. Out with tired carrot cakes, in with parsnip and its feathery friend fennel. Beet that. Narcissa's delicate, fluffy cheesecake doesn't skimp on the good stuff; while other cheesecakes offer a lonely, single layer of crust, this one's got a 360 brown-sugar-toasted fennel shortbread encasing. The flavor is rounded out by bright, tangy chartreuse-infused grapefruit segments, pomegranate seeds, and candied ribbons of fresh fennel. Thank you, Mother Nature.
21 Cooper Square between East 5th and 6th Streets (inside The Standard East Village)
4 Luksus at Tørst | Carrot Parfait with Shaved Yogurt Granita, Blood Orange Cumin Coulis, and Juniper
Disclaimer: we may be partial to Tørst's oak-paneled dining room because it bears the Danish word for "luxury" as its name, but we truly commend owner/brewer extraordinare Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and company for creativity and perfection when it comes to dishes and pairings. Fast-forward through the tasting menu to the last chapter: dessert. Enter carrot parfait, stage left. Egg yolks are cooked in a carrot juice/simple syrup concoction, whipped into a carrot yogurt of sorts, and topped with shaved yogurt granita, blood orange and cumin coulis, juniper syrup, and a cumin tuile. Simply luxurious.
615 Manhattan Avenue between Nassau and Driggs Avenues (Brooklyn)
5 Charlie Bird | Winesap Apple Olive Oil Cake with Mascarpone & Salty Oat Crumble
Olive oil: the age-old agricultural star of Mediterranean Basin. Famed for its skin-enhancing properties, underestimated for its dessert potential. Charlie Bird to the rescue, proving to Manhattanites that our scullery staple is capable of so much more, pushing the savory comfort zone envelope. Moist olive oil cake topped with mascarpone, rosemary, salty oat crumble, and tart winesap unite in one powerful dish, making the dessert hour intriguing as ever. King Street's resident farm-to-table pioneer lives up to its mission to serve "crazy delicious" food in a quintessentially New York manner, organic in approach and delivery. Back to basics. Charlie Bird, the Phoenicians would be proud.
5 King Street between Sixth Avenue and Macdougal Street