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Best restaurant desserts?

I was looking at the menus for a couple of top-tier restaurants and was disappointed at how pedestrian their desserts sounded. So if I want to have a nice dinner with a great dessert, where should I go? I want something complex and sophisticated, but also not trying too hard with weird combinations. Decadent and delicious is what I'm looking for! As an example, the dessert menu at Prospect is ringing my chimes big time.

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  1. Four of us recently enjoyed three desserts, as well as the rest of our meal at Baker & Banker. They have a small menu and we thought what we had was great. Here is the current list of desserts from their website:
    Desserts - all $8
    Hot butterscotch, homemade marshmallows, olive oil-fleur de sel biscotti
    Milk chocolate-peanut butter bar, roasted banana ice cream
    XXX- triple dark chocolate layer cake
    Pineapple upside-down carrot cake, candied pecan cream cheese ice cream
    Fuji apple crisp, brown sugar-pecan streusel, candy apple ice cream
    http://www.bakerandbanker.com/index.p...

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    Baker & Banker
    1701 Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

    1 Reply
    1. re: wineguy7

      Thanks! For some reason this place always falls off my radar.

    2. I'm not quite sure I'd go as far to describe them as complex and sophisticated, but the desserts at NOPA are always refreshingly seasonal and usually have at least one interesting twist.

      I still think about the incredible basil napoleon at Chapeau!, but meals there can get expensive if you don't make it in time for the earlybird special.

      I have to overall agree though that desserts at top-tier restaurnats have mostly been a letdown lately.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vulber

        I'm still thinking about the citrus parfait I had at Cafe Majestic in its last days. Anyone know who the pastry chef there was and where s/he went?

      2. The best cake I've ever tasted was the Dixie dessert at the Summit on Valencia, where Gabriel Mitchell (Maison Mitchell) is the pastry chef. From the Summit's website, Dixie is described as:

        Chocolate Dacquoise, Chocolate Mousseline, Pecan Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Chocolate Sorbet, Bourbon

        It is a layered cake, sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, with all familiar components yet perfectly balanced. The bourbon is a sauce on the plate, and the sorbet is on the side (and unnecessary).

        Most desserts at the Summit are available only starting at 10:30 pm (!) but Dixie is usually offered starting at 5:30 pm. The Summit website says it plans to rotate pastry chefs, so hurry.

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        The Summit
        777 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1 Reply
        1. re: david kaplan

          That sounds oh so yummy! That's exactly what I mean by complex and sophisticated but not trying to hard with weird combinations.

        2. Probably not what you're looking for, but some of the best desserts I've had in recent years were at, of all places, Pauline's Pizza.

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          Pauline's Pizza
          260 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          4 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            what are some of the desserts you recommend at Pauline's Pizza?

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            Pauline's Pizza
            260 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            1. re: hhc

              Butterscotch pudding, chocolate mousse, olive oil gelato.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I second Pauline's - their butterscotch pudding & olive oil gelato are remarkably pure-tasting and delicious - I always save room for dessert, even though their pizzas are also scrumptious if you try the daily specials!

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I had the olive oil gelato again last night and to me it's the best of the numerous olive oil ice cream / gelato / soft serve desserts out there. Really brings out the fruitiness of the olive.

                  Also tasted the butterscotch pudding, it's not as much my kind of thing, but theirs is the best.

            2. I rarely order dessert because so much of it is the same old same old. But I really enjoyed Matt Tinder's work at Meadowood. He has apparently moved to Saison, so interested to see what he would do there.

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              Saison
              2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

              12 Replies
              1. re: jsaimd

                When did he move? I had dinner at Saison last month and the desserts were good but not mind blowing. In November I ate at Benu and 1 dessert was very good and the other was meh - I didn't finish it. I agree, most desserts at high end restaurants seem same old same old. I am actually really looking forward to what Atelier Crenn has to offer from all the favorable reviews lately.

                1. re: JonDough

                  He moved to Haven in Oakland when it opened. Haven't seen what he has done there. It is a completely different restaurant concept, so it seems like it might now allow for as much playing with flavors as meadowood did.

                    1. re: jsaimd

                      I had the Baked California at Haven (and another dessert that had the components of bananas foster, can't remember the name) and it was amazing. I would go back just for that (and the brussels sprouts).

                          1. re: nickis

                            Maybe "what is Baked California"? I was inspired to look it up myself. Unfortunately, the online menu description of "BAKED CALIFORNIA citrus, almond, fluff" is not terribly enlightening (except it sounds really good).

                        1. re: nickis

                          Oops, sorry. It's basically a baked alaska (but without cake, which I think a baked alaska has) with some interesting flavors.

                          The version I had was vanilla ice cream and mandarin sorbet on a nutty almond crust, surrounded by shiso meringue with mandarin gel and avocado fluff alongside.

                          1. re: nickis

                            And let us not forget other variations such as the "reverse Baked Alaska", AKA the "Frozen Florida"--

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baked_Al...
                            http://lidian.hubpages.com/hub/Frozen...

                            The Baked California has not yet made it into Wikipedia but the California Milk Advisory Board has posted a recipe that is totally different from the one at Haven and doesn't sound nearly as good to me--
                            http://www.californiadairypressroom.c...

                            More promising, Plumed Horse in Saratoga has gotten into the Baked California act--
                            http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/...

                            Their menu describes it as "huckleberry sorbet, confit lemon shortbread, vanilla ice cream"--
                            http://plumedhorse.com/food_desserts.php

                            1. re: nickis

                              I have to say, I thought Haven's Baked California was a nice idea, but the overly salty almond cookie base just killed it for me. I happen to like a little hint of salt in desserts, especially chocolate desserts, but it seems to me there's an unfortunate trend of pastry chefs going WAY over the top with the salt levels. The salted caramel gelato at Perbacco is another (much raved about) example where I felt like the salty-sweet balance was totally out of whack.

                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                See, I thought the saltiness was perfect in the Baked Alaska at Haven and I love that gelato at Perbacco. So much so that I bought tahitian vanilla sea salt to use at home.

                                1. re: nickis

                                  Yeah, clearly some people are digging these desserts, but...not for me.