You Say It’s Your Birthday? 5 Top Restaurants for Birthday Desserts

Any way you slice it, everyone needs cake (and all varieties of decadent desserts). Those ready for a break from all the clean eating. Anyone following the U.S. political campaigns. And, naturally, people celebrating birthdays. And birthday dinner-ending sweets are at their absolute best when they’re prepared with top-quality ingredients by professionals trained to make sure the last thing you eat at their restaurant is the best thing. So if you’re ready to indulge on your special day (or any day, really), check out one of these five top restaurants for birthday desserts.

Vespa, Westport, Connecticut
Know what makes a killer cake even better? Twelve (!) layers of buttermilk sponge cake baked thin, sliced even thinner, and then covered with a traditional bittersweet chocolate mousse made with 63% Valrhona cocoa powder. The chocolate semi- sweet chocolate ganache frosting doesn’t hurt either. Craving a different flavor? Then there’s carrot cake, made lighter by technique (the eggs and sugar are whipped) and better by using Mascarpone mousse and Italian buttercream vanilla frosting on top. And because pastry chef Susanne Berne believes it’s the best combination out there, she does a banana sponge cake layered with chocolate and peanut butter and covered with a dark chocolate glaze. On the side: “milk jam” (think caramel or dulce de leche) truffles. Because why not? Make a reservation at Vespa.

Top Restaurants for Birthday Desserts

Rye, Leawood, Kansas
If you’re craving an upscale-but-hearty meal to precede your cake, then this is the place. But don’t fill up entirely on the pan roasted salmon, the seared hanger steak, or chicken and dumplings because then you won’t have room for the peanut butter chocolate pie with French silk-style chocolate mousse on top. Or the new coconut cream cake, in which the cake is infused with buttermilk and coconut cream and then layered with pastry cream and topped with caramel sauce. Another word of caution: If you fill up on a side of mac ‘n cheese with crispy bacon or roasted cauliflower with lemon garlic butter, then you might be too full for the classic banana cream pie that has chocolate-covered crust and toffee crumble on top. And we haven’t even mentioned the lemon meringue pie with its creamy Swiss meringue that never rotates off the menu due to constant customer demand. Make a reservation at Rye.

Top Restaurants for Birthday Desserts

Tango, Seattle, Washington
The fact that the recipe for Tango’s El Diablo dessert is carefully guarded by the restaurant’s owners — and that the chefs are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the ingredients and cooking technique — are some pretty reliable clues that this dish is off-the-dial delicious. Owner Travis Rosenthal describes it as thicker than a mousse, but not quite a cake. It’s also gluten-free, has a hint of cayenne pepper, and comes with tequila caramel sauce. Do you really need more convincing? Make a reservation at Tango.

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Sweet Spring! 7 Desserts Celebrating Cherry Blossom Season in DC

The capital’s Tidal Basin erupts into a flurry of pink as the cherry blossoms bloom at the end of March and beginning of April. The rosy buds mark the start of spring in the region. To commemorate the return of warm weather, chefs work overtime to create sweet treats which draw inspiration from and pay homage to the much-Instagrammed floral display. Here are seven desserts that celebrate cherry blossom season in DC.

Wildfire
Sing it with us, “Tastes so good make a grown man cry/Sweet cherry pie, oh yeah!” Just to be clear, this sweet vee was inspired by the pies baked in Door County, Wisconsin, — not Warrant’s hair metal anthem. Each generously portioned wedge is packed with the red stone fruit swimming in a sticky filling. Vanilla ice cream is optional though we can’t imagine why you’d want a slice without a scoop. That’s sounds practically un-American to us. Make a reservation at Wildfire.

Cherry Blossom Season in DC

Ted’s Bulletin–14th Street
There are fewer things that make our inner children happier than a pop tart. This seasonal, springtime-only version is packed with cherry filling and glazed pink. Pro tip one: ask the server to pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds, so it’s nice and warm. Pro tip two: Take a couple home, so your breakfast game will be on point the next morning. Make a reservation at Ted’s Bulletin.

Cherry Blossom Season in DC

The Pig
The cherry trees speckling the Tidal Basin were originally gifted by the city of Tokyo in 1912. To evoke those roots, pastry chef Audrey Valero has created a Japanese-styled dessert: matcha pistachio cake topped with black sesame ganache. It’s accompanied by a quenelle of miso caramel ice cream. If that’s not enough, order an additional scoop of azuki bean ice cream. Make a reservation at the Pig.

Cherry Blossom Season in DC

Centrolina
Even the Easter Bunny is envious of this egg. The three-foot-tall chocolate treat decorated with cherry blossoms towers over anything you can buy in the CVS candy aisle. The oversized oeuf will be displayed in the West Wing of the White House over Easter weekend while smaller versions will be used as a part of the annual Easter Egg Roll. Make a reservation at Centrolina.

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Sinfully Good: Give Us Our Daily Bread Pudding

Goodbye gluten-free — bread pudding is back, big time! Whether it’s in the form of an ooey, gooey, boozy dessert or a hearty, savory side dish, chefs are once again embracing this classic. Here are eight interpretations of the humble, satisfying dish from a few of our favorite restaurants.

The Macintosh, Charlestown, South Carolina
With a last name like Bacon, it’s befitting that Macintosh executive chef and partner Jeremiah Bacon would eschew the sweet for a signature savory side. He compares his Bone-Marrow Bread Pudding to a “savory French toast” and says word of mouth about the popular dish regularly brings in new diners ready to try his creative, upscale American plates that also include beet panna cotta and broccolini with pickled mustard seed, fish sauce, and naval oranges. While the bread pudding was at one point just a winter entree, it became so popular he decided to serve it year-round as a side. “It is so rich that a little goes a long way — which makes it a great item to share with the table,” he says. Make a reservation at The Macintosh.

Bread Pudding

Palace Café, New Orleans
Forget the spicy gumbo — decadent dessert is just as much a staple at Palace Café, where the signature third course, white chocolate bread pudding, has been the choice of diners since the café opened in 1991. A booze-free, kid-friendly alternative, it’s safer than anything you’ll find on Bourbon Street since the raisins have been replaced with white-chocolate chunks and the whiskey sauce takes the form of white-chocolate ganache. A more adult version is available at Bourbon House (Palace’s sibling restaurant in the French Quarter), featuring chocolate banana bread pudding complete with bourbon butterscotch sauce. Their boozy brunch features bourbon French toast with the bread pudding custard, paired with an adult milk punch — a blend of milk, gelato, and Old Forester bourbon. Make a reservation at Palace Café.

Bread Pudding

White Dog Café, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What could be more comforting than food served in a Mason jar? For pastry chef Kelly Levasseur, possibly only desserts using her grandmother’s recipes. “Growing up, my grandmother was famous for her pineapple bread pudding — everyone can relate to it, it’s a little sweet piece of home,” she says. “We want to be creative with our recipes, but at the same time keep a feeling of home and comfort.” This season, two of three White Dog Café locations offer treats straight from Grandma’s kitchen: Roasted Pineapple Bread Pudding with coconut marshmallows, crushed almonds, topped with vanilla ice cream. Make a reservation at White Dog Café.

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The Sweet Spots: Sweets for Your Sweet on Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, losing track of the years spent with the love of your life, or feeling the sting of unrequited love this weekend, what better way to express how you feel than with something sweet? (Chocolate, mousse-filled, deep-fried, sugar-dusted, sprinkled with rose petals and paired with booze doesn’t hurt, either.) Here are 10 top spots to order sweets for your sweet on Valentine’s Day.

Sinfully Sweet at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas, Nevada
What happens on Valentine’s Day in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Wherever the night takes you in Sin City this Valentine’s Day weekend, you can at least bet on a memorable dessert at the sleek, French-leaning L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand. La Rouge Cerise stars its namesake red cherry in a compote with vanilla and dark chocolate cream while La Framboise comprises a white chocolate sphere filled with yuzu ice cream that’s revealed when cascaded with warm raspberry chocolate sauce at the table. Make a reservation at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Wine-Friendly Sweets at Five Fifty-Five, Portland, Maine
As part of its four-course Valentine’s Day menu, upscale American eatery Five Fifty-Five is tempting diners with three sweet conclusions from pastry chef Yazmin Saraya. Delicate Wine, Chocolate & Roses combines wine and berries pate de fruit, passion fruit truffles, and rose petal macaroon, lavender-laced cheesecake gets sweet tang from Meyer lemon and lightness from meringue, and a mouth-coating flourless chocolate brownie gets sweetness from white chocolate sorbet and sticky dulce de leche. Wine director/co-proprietor Michelle Corry’s carefully selected wine pairings will make dessert taste even sweeter (and your spoken love poems sound all the more impressive). Make a reservation at Five Fifty-Five.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Decisions, decisions! at 312 Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
For lovers who can’t commit (at least on a dessert choice), 312 Chicago chef Luca Corazzina is offering three sweet meal enders this Valentine’s Day. Torta di Cioccolato comprises rich flourless chocolate cake with pistachio cream atop a smear of wild berry sauce; Bombolini, or Italian fried doughnuts, sit atop white chocolate mousse with Champagne; and Panna Cotta de Lamponi pairs light vanilla custard with raspberries and kiwi salad. Don’t worry; dessert sharing is encouraged (though it may not resolve monogamy issues). Make a reservation at 312 Chicago.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Red Velvet Cake for Two at The Gage, Chicago, Illinois
The Gage pastry chef Kym DeLost aims to melt the hearts of even staunch non-dessert-sharers with her amorous Red Velvet Cake for Two. Rich with the color and flavor of cocoa, this layered cake is filled with cheesecake frosting and strawberry-wine jelly and then topped with crunchy meringue kisses and raspberries and strawberries glazed with sparkling red Brachetto wine and finished with candied rose petals that pop with desire on the crisp white plate. Make a reservation at The Gage.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Cupid’s (Semolina Cake) Arrow at Hinoki & the Bird, Los Angeles, California
According to Persian culture, if you bake a semolina cake for someone, the person who eats it will fall in love with you. So if you’re sensing your love might be unrequited, take your date to travel-inspired Hinoki & the Bird for the Semolina Almond Cake. This airy, not-too-sweet cake is infused with ground almonds and fragrant lemon zest and plated with fresh berries, crème fraîche, and honeycomb. In other words, Cupid’s arrow in dessert form. Book a table at Hinoki & the Bird.

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