Friday, 18 March 2011

seriously good restaurant desserts

Everybody knows (especially women) that a great meal out at restaurant isn't complete without dessert. It just wouldn't be right. And, from a gastronomic point of view, it balances the palate and rounds out the dining experience.

Here are a couple of great desserts around town you should know about:

1. The Devonshire's Earl Grey Brûleé

Brand new restaurant The Devonshire brings a bit of polish to this neck of the woods, with its sleek interiors and Franglo-style bistro fare (their Bangalow pork loin, bell and shoulder with pumpkin, prunes and apple is a mega win). When it comes to dessert, their Earl Grey brûleé is a classic in the making.

Think of it as a sort of deconstructed Devonshire (geddit?) Tea. The basis of any good Devonshire tea is always a great scone, and in this case, it's in the form of ice-cream. Scones are baked off, and then cut up and dried out in the oven, before being crushed and churned with vanilla bean ice-cream, to really ram in that essence of scone. This is served with cherry jam, whipped cream..and the crown jewel - a delicate teacup of earl grey-flavoured créme brûleé. Clever, cute and beautifully executed.

204 Devonshire Street,
Surry Hills NSW 2010 Sydney
Telephone: 02 9698 9427

2. Red Lantern's Banh Cam Man Cau

You all remember my cousin Luke, innit?

Ok, so we're not really related, but it has been fun to tell drunk people at parties that we are. Aside from being my fake cousin, and spending time making television shows and writing books in Vietnam, his restaurant with chef Mark Jensen and Pauline Nguyen serves up some cracker takes on Vietnamese cuisine, including their sesame and rice flour dumplings filled with sour sop served with black sesame ice cream. As Luke puts it, sour sop is kind of the more awesome cousin of the custard apple. A member of the pawpaw family, it's simultaneously sour and sweet. Here, it's caramelised and stuffed inside glutenous rice flour dumplings, rolled in black and white sesame and flash fried. The result is golden-crisp on the outside, sticky on the inside, with a sweet and sour explosion in the middle. Served with black sesame ice-cream, it's one of the more interesting desserts around town.

545 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9698 4355

3. Lotus' Choc chip cookie

You've tried the Lotus Burger (arguably one of the best burgers in Sydney), and then there is the warm choc chip cookie. There's something about a desserts of your childhood that makes people come over all kid-like. No matter how rich, old, high-brow or cool you are, nostalgic food is the ultimate fountain of youth. Dan Hong's choc chip cookie at Potts Point's Lotus is indeed that: featuring a from-the-oven warm chocolate chip cookie, vanilla ice cream, raspberry and butterscotch, it's a brilliant combination of childlike enthusiasm and grown-up indulgence.

22 Challis Avenue
Potts Point NSW 2011
(02) 9326 9000

4. Bodega's Banana Split

In a similarly nostalgic vein, Bodega's banana split, consisting of a cream flan, carameltastic dulce de leche ice cream, ginger biscuit and fresh banana is a perfect storm of flavours and textures that seem familiar, yet presented in an entirely different way than you ever had it as a kid. There's a reason this dessert has been on the menu from the beginning - it's a total winner. Boys, take note: This is the ultimate girl-pleaser, a date-night must order, if you fancy a crack at the prize.

216 Commonwealth St
Surry Hills New South Wales 201
(02) 9212 7766