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Best Desserts

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  • zph Mar 27, 2008 04:02 AM
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Hello ladies and gentlemen! I've lurked around Chowhound boards for a while now, but this is the first time I've posted. This is my second time visiting Austin, so I'm rather unfamiliar with the restaurant scene here. As such, I am here for your wisdom.

I have a friend with an exceptional fondness for pastries and desserts. She loves to bake as well, so indeed she knows what's good and what's not. I'd like to take her to a restaurant with (arguably) the best desserts in town for a tasting of nothing but their desserts. As such, I am not particularly concerned with the quality or lack thereof of the rest of the menu. However, I am departing Austin in a few days, so a place that does not require reservations well in advance would be most certainly preferred.

I offer you my gratitude in advance for your insight!

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  1. One of my favorite desserts in Austin is the praline pistolette at Evangeline Cafe. It's a beignet-like pastry stuffed with chopped nuts and sugar, and drizzled with a sweet (honey?) sauce. It's really good paired with their chicory coffee.

    1. Try Chez Zee's. Their Lemon Rosemary Cake and Orange Chiffon Cakes are my favorite. They have a dessert for every taste.

      1. Personally, I simply cannot resist Miles of Chocolate. This is something I share with everyone I can and the reaction is always the same...absolute disbelief that something can be that amazingly rich.

        If I were you, I'd go to Grapevine Market and have either the Margherita pizza or the Gunsmith for lunch (they only serve lunch on weekdays) and pick up a chuck of Miles from the cooler. Hint: let it warm to room temp while you're eating. It's so much more intense as it warms.

        1. I hope this isn't too late, but sample some desserts at Wink. I've tasted two offerings which featured an intensely tart and flavorful lemon curd, one involving a crisp napoleon and the other a softer baked meringue -- both were fantastic. And either would make an excellent contrast with a chocolate item, which they also do well.

          1. I am still in love with the options at Uchi. They have their solid desserts from their normal menu, and a few from their daily one as well. I loved their creme caramel with brown butter sorbet and ginger consomme. I also liked the pepper sorbet and the mini valrhona chocolate torte with wasabi fondant and pistachio ice cream.

            1. That brown butter sorbet was featured when Tyson Cole competed on Iron Chef in an episode that has been broadcast and repeated lately. Got wonderful comments, as did many of his offerings, so his loss in the taste category was surprising.

              2 Replies
              1. re: nosh

                I had this the last time I was at Uchi and I have to say, I was unimpressed. Maybe I need to try it again as I'd had 4 glasses of wine while waiting 2 hours for a table :) I thought the sorbet was way too "icy" tasting and not enough of the brown butter flavor. The consomme was so subtle that I didn't pick up much flavor at all.

                Now, if only I could go when there wasn't a 2 hour wait.

                1. re: foodiegal71

                  Get there when they open. You won't wait at all.

              2. My friend has another friend that absolutely loves the cheesecake at Truluck's. So on her advice, we headed there for Friday evening. The food was good, but hardly memorable (especially at the price point and portions). However, the desserts were much more massive (and impressive). We had the following:

                Cheesecake - Creamy goodness. Good, but short of great, so a bit disappointing given what we were told.
                Mocha Mud Pie - Absolutely and simply fantastic. We both loved it.
                Chocolate Sack - It was massive and delicious. Too bad we couldn't even finish it.

                On Sunday night, I took her to Trio. It was between Trio, Shoreline Grill, Wink and Sullivan's. We ended up at Trio largely due to the scenic lake front view it offered. We had ate a couple hours earlier, so we elected to simply have a tasting of five desserts. I'll sum it up here:

                Banana Parfait - Good, but unmemorable. Also rather lacking in presentation compared to the other desserts.
                Trio of Dark Chocolate - Elegantly presented. Interestingly, the cake almost sported the texture of a brownie. We agreed that the creme brulee was the best of the trio.
                Trio of Pears - Absolutely superb presentation. Delightful mixture of textures. Fantastic.
                Chocolate Crunch - She loved it (largely as a result of her affection for peanut butter). It was evidently so beautifully presented (as far as she was concerned), she initially refused to even try it. Heh.
                Trio of Sorbets - The lemon sorbet was a bit too sour. I particularly enjoyed the raspberry sorbet. She loved the mango sorbet, which I agree was amazingly rich and yummy.

                So in conclusion . . .

                1) Truluck's desserts are noticeably better than their food. Go for the former.
                2) Frankly Trio's menu seems to be good, but a bit boring to me. It just seems "too standard." However, as I haven't exactly tried their food yet, I am frankly not entitled to render an opinion. But I can and will comment on their desserts. In general, the presentation of their desserts is simply amazing. As for taste, they are quite superb, but fall slightly (just slightly) short of fulfilling the expectations instilled by their presentation.

                I am flying back to California early Tuesday evening, so we are looking to have a farewell dinner of sorts on Monday night. I'd really like to try Uchi's, however 1) I'm not completely sure that's possible on such short notice without reservations (even on a Monday night), and 2) she's not exactly a big fan of Japanese food or raw fish (and so far my attempts to convince her that it's [suppose to be] more than just raw fish or stereotypical Japanese cuisine has been futile). Dessert is still a big consideration, so Driskill is out already. We've had way too much French food in the past month, so while I've considered Jezebel, Aquarelle and Chez Nous, I'd rather try them another them. Right now, I'm only seriously considering Wink and Sullivan's for I've read raving reviews of the former and the latter closes at 11 pm or so I've been told. Due to scheduling issues, it's impossible for us to have dinner until at least 9:30 pm, so we're looking for a place that closes slightly later. I'm also very interested in something less gourmet and dressy, but instead more uniquely representative of Austin's fare. If anyone would be kind enough to offer their wisdom given our circumstances, it would be appreciated!

                2 Replies
                1. re: zph

                  Yeah, Uchi is closed on Monday anyway.

                  Other places to consider:
                  -Wink (as you mentioned)
                  -Jeffrey's (have the Intemperance)
                  -Starlite
                  -Eastside Cafe
                  -Lamberts
                  -Castle Hill Cafe
                  -Bess

                  1. re: zph

                    Give Wink a try, if you can. The Lemon Meringue Pot is one of the best desserts I've ever had.

                  2. I haven't been, but I thought of this place when I saw your question, and I bet someone on this board can testify pro or con what about the 1886 Cafe and Bakery at the Driskill?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: renz

                      I'm not a big dessert guy, but my wife is. I got her the 1886 chocolate cake when we got engaged (stayed at the Driskill) and it remains her all-time favorite. Probably because she bagged me when she got it! ;-)

                    2. Bakerman's has a rich dense Turtle cake. It is a chocolate cake with pecans, caramel and ganache.....YUM!

                      1. I'm old fashion I still like the Cheese Cake Factory the best for cheesecake which is my favorite.