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Archive for December, 2008

Clinton Street Savory or sweet: It’s all good

Posted by JK on December 30th, 2008

Like many New Yorkers I like to walk.  I’ll trek many miles to try out a new bakery or restaurant where there’s rumored to be good dessert. But if you’re from out of town and have limited time to devote to eating dessert or you’re just mad lazy, head down to Clinton St.  You can sample a great selection of the best desserts and bakeries all within a few short blocks.

If you’re a real foodie, or in from out of town for a special occasion you  have to check out the tasting menu at Wd-50.  If you want to sample the cutting edge of molecular gastronomy without dropping $250 on a meal just sit at the bar and have a dessert and a drink.  Don’t forget to ask for a tour of the kitchen if it’s not busy.  Wd-50 is at 50 Clinton Street.   I have already cast my vote for the Clinton Street Baking Company’s sweet scones and cookies but their savory goat cheese and herb scone also rocks.  Clinton Street Baking Company is on 4 Clinton Street.

If you’re in the mood for something different slip into Luxee [Ed’s note: Luxee is closed but try Dessert Truck Works located in their old space on Clinton St. ] for one of their unique organic or vegan desserts.  Don’t be scared!  Chef Yoshi Shirakowa has over 18 years of experience in pastry, and headed the pastry line at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Japan.  The New York Times called the chef’s special caramel apple “a masterpiece” – though they were terrified by the green forest parfait which is a chocolate mousse whipped with avocado.  If you’re too much of a wimp to try one of those you can’t go wrong with the Brownie (pictured above).  Luxee is on 6 Clinton St.

Then there’s Falai Panetteria (79 Clinton St.) and Falai Restaurant (69 Clinton St.).  The chef/owner, Iacopo Falai, is a former pastry chef from Le Cirque 2000, and that is pretty much all you need to know.  They do have a bar here so conceivably you could go in and order just the superb desserts, but the place is always so packed you would have to try a stunt like that at an off hour or risk getting jumped.

The breads and sweets from Panetteria are out of this world when fresh–many LES restaurants buy their breads from here.  They also have unusual desserts for a sit-down cafe.  I don’t have any pictures (gasp!) but this New York Times piece describes them well.  A cool space too.

I have to mention Cocoa Bar because their desserts and chocolate selections are really great.  They have a rich, dark, alcohol spiked hot chocolate that holds its own against any hot chocolate in the city.  However, the speed of their service resembles the episode of Bugs Bunny where Bugs is being chased by a mad scientist trying to steal his brain and they accidentally ingest ether so they’re going in super slow motion.  Cocoa Bar is at 21 Clinton St.

Here’s a map to the DessertBuzz Clinton Street tour:

View DessertBuzz Clinton Street Food Tour in a larger map

Everyone knows Cocoa Bar is a cool place to mack on desserts at night, but did you also know they sold original creative chocolates that are perfect for Halloween?  Take the eyeball fudge pop above.  It had a dark chocolate crust, a thin layer of marshmallow and a chocolate fudge inside. Cocoa bar is located here.

I hadn’t been to Artisanal in a over a year. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in New York so I made up for it by ordering, eating and drinking twice as much as normal.  Luckily, I was with family members who were on the same wavelength.  After the usual superb meal (Boulabaise, grouper, skate, cheese courses), we hit the desserts pretty hard especially considering how much wine and cheese we just consumed.

The chocolate fondue for two comes with all kinds of cool stuff plus you get the fun of sitting around a “campfire” at your table.   Instead of using sticks from the woods (there are no woods in New York) you get to use fancy French fondue skewers.  The copper pot is also a classy touch.  The Artisanal chocolate fondue comes with Madeleines, apricots, house made marshmallows, cookies, strawberries and bananas.

It must also be noted that the chocolate that comes in the fondue is really perfect.  It’s dark but not too dark and just thick enough to cling to the various items you dunk in the pot.  My favorite was the house made marshmallows that had some kind of berry flavor going on.

.After two bottles of wine my judgment must have been impaired because I uncharacteristically ordered the citrus tasting dessert rather than the chocolate marquise with vanilla salt and hazelnut sauce.

The Lemon Tart looked typical but was really very flavorful and not too heavy for a big showy French pastry.  The Grapefruit Terrine was like a huge fruity chunk of triangular cheese on the plate.  Dense and tart with a strong grapefruit flavor.  My favorite of the citrus trio was the Lime Compari Sorbet.  This was also tart like the terrine but with some sweetness coming from the sugar in the sorbet.  There was also a cool candied slice of lime that must have been created in a lab.

Of course the James Beard Award winning cheese cake is also excellent said my dining cpmpanions.  For some reason though I love cheese and almost all desserts I am not a fan of cheese cake.  It might be because its so rich it fells you up too fast and prevents you from eating more of the said desserts.

Recommended: Cheese cake, Lemon Tart and the cheeses

Artisanal web site is here.  A Google map to the restaurant is here.