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December 1, 2009

Top 10 Expensive Desserts

VoltBananaSplit.jpgThe cake we had recently at Stoney River Legendary Steaks inspired this Top 10 Tuesday. It cost $11, which shocked me until I saw the slice, which was roughly the size of Manhattan. Four of us didn't come close to finishing it, even though it was delicious and we got only one other dessert.

It got me thinking about how expensive desserts are these days, often out of proportion to the rest of the meal. Sad to say, $8 is pretty much the norm in nice restaurants.

Anyway, I thought I would do a Top 10 of expensive desserts that are worth the cost. Of course, there are plenty of fine local restaurants that may have even better desserts than these, but I haven't been to them lately. For those, we'll have to rely on you to tell us about them.

Here's my list in alphabetical order: ...

* The pretty tiramisu with a demitasse cup of bittersweet homemade hot chocolate sauce at Alizee near Hopkins University.

* The chocolate-studded bread pudding with black pepper ice cream at B & O American Brasserie downtown.

* A warm chocolate pudding/souffle that comes with vanilla gelato at Bistro Blanc in Glenelg.

* The chocolate silk pie with a chocolate cookie crumb crust. It's so dense the softly whipped cream actually cuts the richness. At Blue Hill Tavern in Brewers Hill. 

* The "strawberry shortcake" at Marie Louise Bistro in Mount Vernon. A fabulous combination of spongecake, cream and fruit with fondant on top.

* A simple but delicious tres leche cake at Pairings Bistro in Bel Air.

* The bread pudding, warm, moist and bourbon-scented, at the Prime Rib downtown.

* One of the best key lime pies I've had with the texture of a chiffon pie at Real Seafood Co. in Annapolis.

* Busby's Orange Cake, actually two small sponge cakes, or babas, soaked in orange syrup rather than rum at Restaurant Sabor in Lutherville.

* A "banana split," at Volt in Frederick, with a ribbon of banana and white chocolate ganache and three little ovals of house-made ice cream.

(Algerina Perna/Sun photographer)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:49 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Golden Opulence Sundae $1,000.00 at Serendipity3 in NYC must take the prize for the worlds most expensive dessert!

So, Joyce W.--did you try it?

Dahlink, not a chance! I love desserts but not at that crazy price tag!

I'd sure like to have the money to not think twice about shelling that out for a dessert, though!

That's as mouth-watering a Top Ten as you've ever run. What's interesting, though, is how many of the restaurants listed are relative newcomers, several open less than a year. Is that a trend...offering rich, pricey desserts to help recoup the start-up cost? Or does it reflect that restaurants you've reviewed most recently are most likely to spring to mind?

Really the latter. I hate to go back too far, because pastry chefs may have left or menus changed and the desserts no longer be as good or even available. EL

As I am sure less than half the people who dine at restaurants get dessert (purely anecdotal), I really don't think that the owners go in thinking "Alright, I took out this 100,000 dollar business loan, but I am going to make it back in creme brulees!"

They all sound wonderful, but the best restaurant dessert I've had this year was the coconut cake at Clementine's.

Mexican desserts have always been my favorite: the fried banana or the sopapillas...yum.

The Belgian Chocolate Pots de Creme from Peter's didn't look like much when they placed it in front of myself and the Mrs. Friday.

My eyes were wrong. It was decadent.

I'm surprised nothing from Ze Mean Bean made this Top Ten. They have some of the best desserts hands down! They have a rather extensive dessert menu and I believe all desserts are made in-house.

as much as I love a good dessert, I'm seldom hungry enough for a whole big dessert to myself. I really like the chain fad of the shot glass desserts. They are around $2 and just enough for a few bites which is enough to make me happy.

That supersized, expensive steakhouse cake experience seems crazy after the tiny-dessert craze. Weren't restaurants like Vin in Towson serving cake and sundaes in shot glasses recently, for just a few dollars?

If you're Sheila Dixon, you just ask a wealthy developer for a gift card to pay for an expensive dessert.

I had a fantastic, albeit seasonal dessert, at Woodberry Kitchen at the end of the summer. There were a lot of parts to it, but I remember a tangerine sorbet, poached plums, and most deliciously, a basil ice cream. Also, the key lime pie at Sullivan's is pretty damn good.

But, by far, my favorite dessert in a restaurant can only be had in the Outer Banks, at The Outer Banks Brewing Station. Made by the pastry chef there, who is also one of the owners. Chocolate rum balls encased in funnel cake, served warm with chocolate ganache and vanilla bean anglaise. OhMyGod.

Sorry, meant to add that the desserts were all delish, but none were cheap. The Woodberry dessert was $9ish, and even the Outer Banks dessert was $8. But, for some desserts, I will pay the price.

I would strongly recommend, especially to lovers of chocolate, the tartuffo at Piedigrotto (on Bank Street, off Central Avenue, South of Pratt Street). Their cheesecake is just like my husband's grandmother

Your husband's grandmother must have really been something!

my favorite restaurant dessert is (and has been) the vanilla panna cotta with salted caramel at Cinghiale - their pastry chef is a genius!

The chocolate kulfi at Indigma in Mount Vernon. Unbelievable! The description,"dark chocolate infused traditional ice cream", doesn't begin to do it justice! The price isn't listed on their on-line menu, but I'll bet it qualifies. On the other hand, better if it doesn't!

Anything from Cinghiale is great- the pastry chef, Jason Gehring is really a talent.

I had the coconut cake at Clementines twice in a week, and the first time it was fabulous. The second time, the icing was very gritty because the sugar hadn't melted. It was very off-putting.

I try not to drop the travel stuff, but I have to drop a holla at Tapaç 24 in Barcelona.

Chocolate mousse, finished with olive oil and fleur de sel.

All desserts are $5 at Henningers--frozen lemon tartufo, chocolate oblivion, etc., but my favorite is the chocolate brownie sundae. It's a delicious brownie with hazelnut gelato and a chocolate sauce that tastes the way chocolate sauce is supposed to, whipped cream on top. It's plenty to share, too. Delicious!

I also love the panne cotta at Cinghiale, but this fall he was briefly making a tiny little fig tart with a dollop of mascarpone that was TO DIE FOR. All their desserts are pretty pricy if you're only looking at portion size, but quality is excellent and who wants something the "size of Manhattan" after a restaurant meal?

Woodberry Kitchen was doing a sweet potato pie in November with a homemade bit of marshmallow that would give Cinghiale a run for its money.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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