Dessert tasting at 21 Club – the New York institution responsible for the first haute burger way back when.
Upside down apple tart: another classic dessert, this one with an upside down presentation. Tasty, and I enjoyed the depth of flavor in the calvados caramel, but not quite a standout. To be fair, though, I love a good slice of apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and never find a need to stray far from the classic.
This massive dessert was meant for two; “Drunken Strawberry Shortcake” or baba au rum. I think this may have been my favorite – it was super boozy, soaked in rum but deliciously so – a mild rum, honestly. The creme anglaise served on the side in a gravy boat was perfectly light and delicate to accompany the spongey cake, and the pistachios added just the right amount of crunch. And the fruit? Simply perfect.
Baked Alaska – extremely classic dessert, but with a seasonal twist to it with meyer lemon semifreddo. The ‘marshmallow’ exterior was lightly sweet, and the fruit around it was both gorgeous and perfectly ripe, offsetting the sweetness with its own zippy taste. I loved this dessert, which was surprising to me since I haven’t really liked most baked Alaskas that I’ve sampled in the past. Watching them set it on fire was pretty cool too 😉
Bananas foster – another very tasty, thoughtful and not overwhelmingly sweet version of the classic. The pastry chef here has a very light hand with sugar, and balances it well with all the flavors and fruits he uses. I thoroughly enjoyed not being in a sugar-coma afterwards.
Chocolate souffle – perfectly executed with a totally airy body, and not too eggy for my tastes (I know what a souffle is but sometimes they just taste overwhelmingly like whipped egg with no nuance to it!). Absolutely delightful.
Creme brulee tasting – again, classic desserts with slight twists, do you see a theme here? Vanilla, hazelnut and creamsicle. I surprised myself by liking the hazelnut the most; I would have thought creamsicle but that one was just a touch too subtle for me (I love citrus in desserts). The hazelnut was rich but just enough without putting you over the edge.
I think what surprised me the most about this next and last dessert was that well, I generally don’t like cheesecake. I found this one to be more akin to fromage blanc (perhaps that’s just being nitpicky in name – my pastry knowledge is a little lacking) – very airy, delicate, but deliberate in its taste. Once again, the fruit surrounding it was just so perfectly picked that it enhanced the light dessert and brought it to new levels.
Overall, the pastry program at 21 Club was excellent. Some desserts perhaps weren’t to my exact tastes but I found everything so wonderfully refreshing and lightly sweet. I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy to end their meal with these items — perhaps unhappy that the meal itself was ending, but not unhappy about dessert.
Also — check out their theater prix fixe menu! You can add parking for $15 as well, which would be perfect as it’s a short hop to many Broadway theaters. I’m definitely planning on checking that out soon!!!
21 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019