Good Gourd: 12 Pumpkin Desserts to Celebrate the Season

Once a humble, orange gourd best known for adorning dining room tables and decorating doorsteps, pumpkin has become a divisive element of the fall culinary landscape. Each year, pumpkin in all forms appears in coffee shops, grocery stores, and restaurants across the country, to the delight of some and exhaustion of others. We’re taking a stance, though, however controversial: we love pumpkin. Whether it be the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte, a creamy, comforting bowl of soup, or a hot-from-the-oven bread, we’re all in. However, pumpkin desserts reign supreme in our diets. From tiramisu to fritters to the most distinctly autumn ice cream sandwich, check out how chefs from around the country do justice to our favorite fall flavors.

Ginger Snap Cookie and Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich, CBD Provisions, Dallas, Texas
This modern-yet-inviting brasserie in the heart of downtown Dallas is open all day, but make sure to stop in for lunch or dinner for a taste of fall on a plate. Executive pastry chef Keith Cedotal combined two of the season’s best, most quintessential flavors in his Gingersnap Cookie Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich with housemade cookies and a coating of pumpkin seeds for a little added texture. If we could dole these out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, we’d officially be the most popular house on the block. Make a reservation at CBD Provisions.

Pumpkin Desserts

Pumpkin Spice Gelato, Alla Spina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Among the many reasons to love chef Marc Vetri’s Italian gastropub is the extensive beer selection (including the Victory Verde, a saison made exclusively for the Vetri family restaurants,) the comforting yet impressive, pork-centric menu, and, not least, the soft serve gelato. Flavors change seasonally, but this fall enjoy a Pumpkin Spice swirl in a cup, on a cone, or, for a little pick me up, an affogato with a shot of espresso. Make a reservation at Alla Spina.

Pumpkin Desserts

Pumpkin Basque Cake, The Bristol, Chicago, Illinois
Renowned chef Grant Achatz has called the Basque cake at this beloved American restaurant in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood one of his favorite desserts in the city. A staple on the menu, pastry chef Amanda Rockman has given the cake an autumn spin, adding pumpkin marmalade — made from scratch by cooking a mixture of small diced pumpkin tossed in maple sugar and lemon zest — and a garnish of candied sage, spiced pumpkin seeds, and maple chantilly to the classic Spanish dessert. “If you can find them, the best pumpkin for marmalade that I have found is called a Long Island Cheese Squash,” asserts Chef Rockman. “Odd name, but great pumpkin.” Make a reservation at The Bristol.

Pumpkin desserts

Tiramisu’ Alla Zucca, Lago, Las Vegas, Nevada
At this stylish spot in the Bellagio, get a front row seat to the resort’s famous fountain show while enjoying plates like crudo, small pizzas, and focaccia. And for those celebrating Thanksgiving in town, don’t miss the seasonal spin on the traditional Italian dessert. Tiramusu’ Alla Zucca layers pumpkin mascarpone mousse onto espresso-soaked lady fingers in an indulgent, impressive — and appropriately Vegas — presentation. Make a reservation at Lago.

Pumpkin Desserts

Pumpkin Cake in a Box, BOA Steakhouse, Santa Monica, California
The classic steakhouse gets an L.A. twist at this perpetually buzzing Santa Monica hot spot. After treating yourself to a juicy steak — the 40-day, dry-aged New York Strip or bone-in Kansas City filet mignon are among the many menu heavy-hitters — the Cake in a Box is an apt ending. With moist, spiced pumpkin cake, vanilla cream cheese icing, anisette cream, and candied pecans, the “box” aspect of this dessert means taking it to go is just as easy as diving in on site. Make a reservation at BOA Steakhouse.

Pumpkin Desserts

Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts, Taste on Melrose, West Hollywood, California
Paired with a hot coffee at brunch or saved for dessert at lunch or dinnertime, the Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut — made with a soft pumpkin brioche, drenched in butter, and covered in cinnamon and sugar — makes for a perfectly autumn indulgence at this warm little neighborhood spot. Or, opt for the spicy Pumpkin Crumb Cake, topped with an almond nutmeg crumb layer. With ample outdoor seating for L.A.’s 364 days of sunshine, enjoy either one of executive pastry chef Katie Shyne’s house-baked creations and win fall. Make a reservation at Taste on Melrose.

Pumpkin DessertsContinue Reading

Get in the Gold Medal Spirit: 7 Top Brazilian Restaurants

You can’t go anywhere lately without hearing the trill of vuvuzelas or the roar of the crowd. The games are underway in Rio, where records are shattered, dreams are made, and heroes are born. Can’t afford the plane fare and the cost of the tickets? Don’t worry, you can still get a taste of the host country here in the States. Here are top Brazilian restaurants to fuel your dreams.

The Grill from Ipanema, Washington, D.C.
The Brazilian outpost in the nation’s capitol thrives in the buzzy Adams Morgan neighborhood. Chef Alcy De Souza offers an epic menu, which encompasses the width and breadth of his home country’s cuisine. He makes a mean feijoada, Brazil’s national dish. The thick black bean stew is fortified with plenty of protein, including beef, pork sausage, and smoked meats, ensuring it will stick to your stomach for hours after you dine. It’s the perfect preemptive order if you plan on enjoying the tropicalia-styled cocktail menu, which features caipirinha (of course!), maracujinha (cachaça-amped passion fruit juice), and batida de côco (a creamy coconut sipper spiked with cachaça and vodka). Make a reservation at the Grill from Ipanema.

Top Brazilian Restaurants

Tradicao Brazilian Steakhouse, Webster, Texas
Being your meal at this churrascaria with a trip to the outsized salad bar, which features more than 30 options. Make sure you don’t overload your plate though because this is only the beginning. Back at your table, you’ll be given a coaster with a red side and a green side. Leave the green side up and servers will continue to bring you an onslaught of meats, including beef, lamb, chicken, and fish, as well as sides, such as mashed potatoes, garlicky rice, and caramelized bananas. When you feel like you’ve had enough – or you just want to take a break, so you can rest up for the next round – flip your coaster over to the red side to stop the edible assault. Make a reservation at Tradicao Brazilian Steakhouse.

Top Brazilian Restaurants

Ipanema, New York, New York
Perched in the heart of Manhattan’s Little Brazil, this storied eatery has been giving diners a taste of their unique Brazilian-Portuguese (sometimes referred to as luso-Brazilian) cuisine for more than three decades. Expect the classics, including crème de camarão (shrimp bisque), vatapá (grilled monkfish and shrimp stew made with dende oil and crisped up hazelnuts), picanha, and feijoada. Wash it all down with a few caipirinha, which are available in the classic style or accented with your choice of coconut cream or passion fruit juice. Just don’t drink too many or you might wake up in Rio. Trust us, vuvuzelas sound even worse when you’re hungover. Make a reservation at Ipanema.

Top Brazilian Restaurants

Espetus Churrascaria, San Francisco, California
You could call this a fire-to-fork concept. The rodizio style restaurant brings diners a seemingly endless parade of skewered offerings, all cooked over mesquite by the gaucho chefs. Options include bacon-wrapped filet mignon, pork loin, chicken hearts, shrimp, lamb, and pineapple, whose juiciness and caramelized sweetness offers a nice counterpoint to the proteins. Complement this fare with sides from the salad bar, such as moqueca de peixe (fish stew) and the requisite feijoada. If there’s still room for something sweet after overindulging on savory items, try the pudim (caramel topped milk and egg custard) or crème de papaya (a blend of ice cream and papaya) lavished with crème de cassis and accompanied by a scoop of cassis sorbet. Make a reservation at Espetus Churrascaria.

Top Brazilian RestaurantsContinue Reading

August 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Summer Savings Ahead


At home or on the road, you can enjoy discounts on meals this month at cities across the nation, thanks to August 2016 Restaurant Weeks.

* Dine Out Downtown Delray Restaurant Week brings you the best for less with $20 lunches + $20-$40 dinners through August 7. Make a reservation.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week will charm you with $15-$25 lunches and dinners, through August 20. Make a reservation.

* New Orleans COOLinary offers lunches for $20 or less + $39 or less through August 31 in NOLA. Make a reservation.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks make for a most delicious month. Book $20 brunches + lunches and $25, $35, and $45 dinners through September 5. Make a reservation.

* Miami Spice delivers two months of nice. Take advantage of $23 lunches + $39 dinners through September 30. Make a reservation.

* Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week has three ways to save with $25, $35, and $45 dinners, August 8-14. Make a reservation.

* DFW Restaurant Week Preview is your chance to get a sneak peek of all the dining fun to come. Snag a seat for $20 lunches and $30 or $45 dinners, August 12-14. Make a reservation.

* Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week showcases the tastiest of Maryland with $16 two-course lunches + $36 three-course dinners, August 12-21. Make a reservation.

* San Antonio Restaurant Week features $10 + $15 lunches and $25 + $35 dinners with heart, August 13-27. Make a reservation.

* Dine Out Boston is coming soon. Book now for $15, $20+ $25 lunches and $28, $33 + $38 dinners, August 14-26. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges: Where to Spend Your Refund

April showers bring May flowers or if you’re really lucky, the month itself brings a big fat tax refund. Since experiences bring more happiness than possessions, a big splurge dinner on the town seems like the perfect way to spend it. Here are some top picks Tax Day 2016 dining splurges to live and eat large if only for one night. please note that the most exclusive wines are available in extremely limited quantities, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you have your heart set on a particularly splurge-y selection.

Daniel, New York, New York
Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant on the Upper East Side just off of Central Park is the epitome of contemporary French extravagance. The seven-course tasting menu clocks in at $234 or $459 with wine pairings and includes signature dishes like velvety Minted Pea Soup with chicken mousse and Louisiana crayfish and garlic pennycress and can include courses of langoustines, beef, and quail with foie gras. The wine list has selections such as Chateau D’Yquem 1918 for $10,000 or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 for $15,000. Or if you’re celebrating with similarly flush-with-cash friends, how about a magnum? You can’t go wrong with the Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Cros Parantoux”1995 for $20,000. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Providence, Los Angeles, California
Chef Michael Cimarusti’s 2-Michelin star paean to fine dining in the heart of Los Angeles features the chef’s menu, a 12-course tasting menu with sustainable seafood from the U.S. and beyond, as well as other delicacies like prized A5 wagyu beef. Decadent touches include ossetra caviar and white truffle and black truffle fondue. It’s $220 or $325 with wine pairings. But if you’re really looking to splash out, begin your evening with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Champagne for $3,500 and then move on to a bottle of 2012 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $4,000. Finish the evening with a bottle to remember in the way of a 1959 Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Riesling Auslese for $3,500. Make a reservation at Providence.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Saison, San Francisco, California
Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright have crafted one of the most unique high-end dining environments at Saison, with its open floor plan encompassing the dining room, bar, lounge, and kitchen — effectively removing all walls. The goal is to bring diners into the chef’s world, in this case, a minimalist redesign of the California Electric Light Company building. Dishes have vague and poetic names such as Fire in the Sky Beet, Bone Marrow Roasted over Coals and Sea Urchin, Liquid Toast. The prix-fixe Discovery menu is a luxe $398 for about 16 courses with an additional $298 for wine pairings. But if you want to really max out the credit cards (assuming you can pay it off with your return dough), you might consider ordering the Domaine Georges Roumier ‘Bonnes-Mares’ Grand Cru 2009 for $15,408 or ending the experience on a truly sweet note with Château D’Yquem Premiere Cru Supérieur, Sauternes 1942 for $6,888. Make a reservation at Saison.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

StripSteak by Michael Mina, Miami, Florida
Located in the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami, StripSteak is swank and clubby with its wood tones and rich browns. Start your meal with rare golden osetra caviar service for $295, and then indulge in a beefy entrée like the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk for $150 or the Japanese Miyazaki prefecture A5 striploin for $32 per ounce. Then gild the lily with add-on extras like half a Maine lobster tail or seared foie gras. The restaurant prides itself on having one of the largest pre-embargo Cuban cigar collections in Miami, all dating back to 1962 and earlier with prices generally in the $100-200 range but topping out at $395 for a 6-inch Montecristo. To accompany your stogie, choose a tableside Japanese whisky ceremony or perhaps a glass of 25-year Macallan for $370. Make a reservation at StripSteak by Michael Mina.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Grace, Chicago, Illinois
This Michelin three-star restaurant is also one of the biggest splurges in Chicago. Elegant and understated, chef Curtis Duffy’s Windy City gem is upscale without being fussy. The menu offers an 8-12 course tasting menu format at $235. The dishes are described in classic minimalist style such as Alaskan King Crab, sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint or Pig Tail, endive, cauliflower, oxalis. Many dishes have Asian accents and the vegetarian “flora” menu is as captivating as the “fauna” menu, which showcases seafood and protein. The wine list features saves and splurges among 1,400 selections. Teetotalers can splurge on bespoke teas that cost upwards of $20 each. Make a reservation at Grace.

Tax Day 2016 Dining SplurgesContinue Reading