When I first found out I was going to lunch at the Four Seasons, I was pretty excited but soon realized that despite growing up in New York City, I really knew nothing about this storied institution except that it has very special chain mail window shades.
According to Wikipedia, The Four Seasons which opened in 1959, is credited with introducing the idea of seasonally-changing menus to the US and was the first destination restaurant to print its menus in English. It was also the first US restaurant (outside of California) to serve American wine.
That’s all cool, but what I wanted to know is–do they have a commitment to excellent desserts? A quick check on their pastry chef put that concern to rest. Executive Pastry Chef Chris Broberg, has quite a resume including Best Pastry Chef in America in 1999 and 2000 from Pastry Art & Design Magazine.
After a superb savory meal I made an error in judgement with my party by overselling the virtues of souffles. Why was this a mistake? Well, it resulted in four of my six dining companions ordering the souffle, (the other two ordered the key lime pie) meaning I would only be able to taste two* desserts! You would think I would know better.
Thankfully, two people ordered the cookies and cream souffle instead of the chocolate, adding a little diversity to the mix. Also at the end of the service the Four Seasons serves all their tables a giant pink cloud of cotton candy with delicious house-made banana ice cream underneath. It’s not very practical to eat but it is very memorable.
The Caramelized Key Lime Pie with chocolate cookie crust was as delicious and refined a dessert as you are going to taste anywhere. It was very tart and low in sweetness. The powerful, tart lime flavor reminded me of Karen DiMasco’s off-the-hook lemon tart from Locanda Verde. The crust added a great bit of texture. It wasn’t just the usual super-sweet, super-buttery cookie-crumb crust. Instead, the crust actually tasted like chocolate cookie.
The souffles came to the table piping hot and the waiters poured molten chocolate sauce into them. The body of the souffle wasn’t very dark but the poured chocolate was. Like the Key Lime pie, the souffles were’t too sweet. The cookies and cream souffle was slightly sweeter and tasted surprising different from the chocolate. It made me think of the inside of an Oreo. The best barometer of the quality of the souffle was the long silence that decended on our table when everyone was devouring them.
My only regret was not being able to try more of Chef Broberg’s menu. Some of our other options included: elderflower and strawberry napoleon with citrus gelee, rhubarb and vanilla tapioca parfait and a mustard seed roasted pineapple with macadamia ice cream. See the entire dessert menu here.
The Four Seasons is located on 99 East 52 Street in the Seagram Building.
For more recent reviews of high-end desserts from “fancy-pants” restaurants see below:
Le Bernardin (Michael Lasikonis)
Daniel (Dominque Ansel)
Dovetail (Michal Shelkowitz)
Quattro (Antonio Bachour)