CA hound visiting NYC (dessert)
I really love fancy dessert.
I love dessert tasting menus with wine pairings.
I love innovative modern desserts that include savory ingredients, but I dont really have to have them.
Are there any hip, modern, wine-barish dessert cafes in manhattan that serve the types of desserts you get at fancy restaurants? I want to go to a place for the dessert, but also for the nightlife.
I hear that there is some really fancy hot chocolate around town (city bakery maybe)
Also. Are there any great bakeries (chocolate croissants) or gelato places that are charming and great for lunch-time lingering?
WD-50 (dessert tasting menu or you can easily make your own tasting, I recommend ordering a la carte as the whole table has to do the tasting, Alex Stupak is ex-Alinea and really impressive)
Kyotofu (dessert pre fixe included an appetizer, a main composed of 4 items, and petit fours, note that it's tofu/Asian flavor influenced, the cocktails are quite good)
Dessert Studio by Will Goldfarb at Michel Cluizel, located inside of the ABC Carpet and Home Store (a variety of options including a 5 course tasting with drink pairings)
Chikalicious (3 course prix fixe dessert = prefix with amuse, one "entree," and petit fours, very popular dessert bar)
p*ong (chef used to be a pastry chef so they are probably used to people just coming in for dessert, IIRC they have two options for dessert tastings and you can get pairings for either)
Tailor (never tried to order just desserts here but I'd call and ask, Sam Mason is ex-WD-50 but I think the current pastry chef at WD-50 is more impressive, Tailor has two dessert tastings, a 3 course and a 5 course)
Graffiti (haven't tried here yet, the chef is known for desserts but the place is seriously tiny, and gets crowded)
Dessert Truck (basically high end, fancy dessert but from a truck -- they do a bread pudding with bacon creme anglaise)
Avoid: Serendipity, Max Brenner.
Hot chocolate: there are so many options. Vosges for spicy; that one's my favorite. It has a wicked kick, more than Jacques Torres' spicy one. La Maison du Chocolat is also very good but tends to sell out if it's chilly out. City Bakery is very thick: more like hot chocolate soup to me! MarieBelle, Jacques Torres, Michel Cluizel, The Chocolate Room....Also some unexpected places like Joe the Art of Coffee, 'wichcraft, Otto.
Regular restaurants with an interesting savory dessert or two:
Momofuku Ssam Bar (salt makes it way into a lot of Christina Tosi's creations, but it is very seasonal, and the menu changes all the time)
Gramercy Tavern (I heard rumors about a chocolate-bacon tart in the Tavern Room)
Eleven Madison Park (chocolate tart with sea salt)
Otto (olive oil coppetta with sea salt, mmmmm)
NYT on savories making their way into NYC desserts:
WD-50 has a dessert tasting menu where you can get either 3 or 5 desserts. The desserts are made by Alex Stupak (ex-Alinea) and are excellent. They are super inventive and I'm pretty sure they are "fancy" although I'm not sure what that means. I don't know if they have a set pairing but I've been generally happy with the wine program there.
You can make reservations for WD-50 but you don't have to. I've dropped in when it's not that busy (say 9pm Sunday night), and tried to eat desserts at the bar. They actually ended up seating us. I think you can also make reservations and ONLY order dessert -- they know that Alex Stupak is a big draw. The desserts *are* exception and it's worth the effort. I think the restaurant is also serving lunch now, in case you can't squeeze it in.
I, too, love Madeleine Patisserie. It's on 23rd St., b/t 6th & 7th Avs. *Everything* -- tarts, macarons, danish, croissants, quiches, etc. -- is seriously delicious! They are still in the process of renovating the new space, so there isn't much seating right now. But one of the staff members told me when the reno is completed, they will again have sofas and chairs as they did in the old location.
Chikalicious is a dessert bar with desserts in the style served in upscale restaurants. It's a tiny, modern space with only a couple of tables. There are also several seats at the bar where you can watch Chika prepare your desserts. I've only been there in the late afternoon (when it's quite empty), so I can't say if there is any "nightlife." Regardless, I still think it's very much worth going there.
Blue Hill is a restaurant which I think offers a late in the evening dessert tasting menu. I would imagine you could have them pair wines for you.
For gelato, it's hard to beat Il Laboratorio del Gelato. But it's basically a take-out shop.
Fancy desserts: the Kurt Gutenbrunner restaurants are all great, especially Cafe Sabarsky, where you can stop by just for a pastry. Sabarsky isn't a hip nighttime destination, though.
City Bakery is my favorite for hot chocolate. Jacques Torres is also very good.
For chocolate croissants, Patisserie Claude is the best. I also like Madeleine Patisserie.
Gelato--see this: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/514961. Unfortunatley, most of these places are take out counters w/minimal, if any, seating. Otto is nice and uncrowded during lunchtime (from what I've read, not witnessed). You might be able to stop in for a gelato and linger, at least at the bar.