I celebrated a birthday earlier this month, and after a fun and tasty meal at Barrio, we pondered where to go for dessert. Pat threw out a few ideas, and ultimately decided we should try the bar at La Belle Vie. Apparently they are known for their fine desserts. La Belle Vie is a beautiful restaurant, and I found the bar ambiance to be classy and romantic. We chose a spot on a couch by the fireplace right near the bar. We were there for dessert only, so Pat ordered coffee and then we selected two desserts. We figured it’s not often we make it to La Belle Vie, so we may as well try two desserts (instead of sharing one) to get more of a sampling of their dessert menu, and also because…well…two desserts are always better than one!
We decided on the warm apple cake with truffle ice cream and thyme, and the something-or-other caramel cake with dark chocolate sorbet. We asked our server what she thought of our choices and she claimed they were her two favorites on the dessert menu. She described the apple cake as “not too sweet, but not savory” and the caramel cake as “think of your Grandma’s caramel layer bars- this is way better.”
The coffee came and I was very impressed by the silver service. Pat drinks his coffee black, and I rarely drink coffee (especially not at 9:00pm), but this coffee came with a lovely cream and some beautiful lumps of sugar, so I talked Pat into adding those delicacies to his cup. And he sure was glad I did, because then we got to SHARE his coffee. La Belle Vie’s coffee with cream and sugar gets two thumbs up from me!
Our desserts arrived and they were artfully and beautifully presented. The apple cake was alternating layers of white cake and baked apple, cut out into perfect circles. There was also a small scoop of truffle ice cream and a plop of thyme foam. The caramel cake was a small rectangular square of cake, with a scoop of rich, dark chocolate sorbet, and then way over on the edge of the plate was this glob of what can only be described as unidentifiable white stuff.
My conclusion: I don’t like fancy desserts. The apple and cake circles? They were fine. The truffle ice cream? Well, let’s just say in my humble opinion mushrooms should never be an ingredient in ice cream. And the thyme foam? Simply weird. The server was correct- the apple dessert was not very sweet and I would actually use the term savory to describe 2/3 of it. The caramel cake was good, but honestly I’d choose a homemade bar from my grandma any day. The dark chocolate sorbet was the only divine part of both desserts, and the mystery glob? I still don’t know what it was, but once in my mouth it provided me with the same sensation as eating a mouthful of pop rocks. Zesty!
In sum, I officially like my desserts hearty, large, simple, and delicious. Give me a chewy chocolate chip cookie or an amazing homemade bar or a generous scoop of ice cream or a warm piece of apple pie any day, and I will be happy. Desserts served at places like Birchwood Cafe, Crema, Izzy’s or A Baker’s Wife come to mind. Heck, desserts from my own kitchen come to mind!
So where’s the deep, deep ‘food for thought’ in all this? Do you like fancy frou-frou desserts? Or do you prefer a delicious, delectable not-very-exciting-but-always-dependable old stand-bys?