La Dolce Vita. The sweet life. It’s the summertime, when culinary thoughts lean toward the decadent and rich choices we are offered when the dessert menus are passed around at the restaurant. Give these choices a look, they’re our favorites.
While I love eating out at area restaurants, I unfortunately have no favorite dessert to report. Mainly, because I rarely order dessert while out to dinner. On the off chance that I do order dessert I revert to my old quirk of ordering one scoop of vanilla ice cream. I call this a quirk because back when I was on the dating scene, it always raised my date’s eyebrow when I would order it. I guess because I am this big, tough-looking meat-eater and witnessing the pure joy I extract from one scoop of plain vanilla ice cream always surprised them. Especially when much more elaborate desserts were on display.
There is just something perfect about one vanilla scoop. I started the tradition at TGI Friday’s in Foggy Bottom. They serve up a good vanilla bean there, but I am not picky. It is pretty hard to screw-up vanilla ice cream.
I may be stretching the definition of restaurant, but try as I might, I
can’t think of a better place than Love Cafe. Directly across the street
from the source of all that is good about dessert, Love Cafe is the brainchild of Cake Love owner Warren Brown. Offering a great place to hang out and talk after drinks, dinner, a show at Studio Theatre, Love Cafe offers all the treats available at Cake Love, but by the slice rather than the cake.
Right now the strawberry shortcake is all fresh strawberries, a cake shaped super-moist biscuit, and just-sweet-enough whipped cream. It’s the strawberry shortcake that you wish you remembered your mother making, but chances are hers didn’t taste like this.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cheesecake. Somehow walking the line between dense and fluffy, sweet and tart, creamy cake with crunchy graham cracker crust…again, what you always hope cheesecake will be when you order it but so very rarely is.
For those unwilling to splurge, either monetarily or calorically, on a very generous slice of cake, Love Cafe also offers cupcakes which seem almost virtuous. I heartily recommend the chocolate with lime icing.
Love Cafe is open until 11 p.m. (10 on Sundays), is smoke-free, offers free wi-fi access, and is very connected to the community – the last Fray Day event in Washington, DC was held there.
So, stop by, say hi to Warren and enjoy a great dessert.
if you’ve never had bubble tea (a.k.a. boba tea), it’s like a smoothie w/ a lil’ sum’in sum’in! coming in a myriad of flavors, bubble tea is a tawianese concoction of tea, sugar, milke and tapioca pearls — big ones…the size of marbles and comes w/ a special straw that rivals 7-11’s slurpee “spoon-straw” back in the day.
the best places use fresh fruit (watermelon, mango, lychee, passion, etc.) and some now even come w/ herbal enhancers such as aloe vera to keep your bones in good order.
Sometimes the basics are really the best. Like Oceanaire’s Milk and
Oceanaire is located right next to my office. This is a pretty dangerous temptation. It’s one of the loveliest dining spaces in DC – delicate lighting, curvaceous booths, and a constant big band soundtrack. Your eyes certainlyare bigger than your stomach as waiters swirl past you with heaping mounds of Baked Alaska and Key Lime Pie, but I say skip those behemoth proportions and go for something satisfyingly simple.
The Milk and Cookies dessert is that rare thing, truth in advertising – freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk. The warm cookies have that delectably crispy first bite followed by a chewy inside with gooey melting chips. The milk is perfectly cold for dunking – and don’t even think to order a skim substitution! Somehow surrounded by yapping lobbyists and dealmakers it’s even more delicious, just because it’s old-fashioned honesty rings true.
There is only one restaurant dessert I consistently get. It is the Uber-Dessert. It is Plato’s Form of dessert. It’s the Key Lime Pie at the Boulevard Woodgrill in Clarendon.
The Boulevard’s chefs use fresh key limes in creating the custardy goodness at the bottom of the pie- no crappy bottled juice. And it makes a difference. This is the best pie I’ve ever had. Ancient bards wrote epic poems about this pie. It’s the pie for which the phrase “Mmm, pie…” was coined. You think I’m exaggerating, but Have you had the pie?! It’s a big slab of sex on a plate, people. The key lime part is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, the crust is subtle and crisp, and the layer of white on light green calls to mind the tranquil ocean horizons of the key lime tree’s native tropics. Do not miss the pie.
We ran into some friends of ours one night at a showing of Pirates of the Caribbean. As one of these friends is a pie aficionado, we decided to rush to the Boulevard after the evening movie to see about some key lime pie. They were closing up for the night, but the manager at the time is a friend of ours. “You guys just want some pie? Come on in, I’m sure I can find you some pie…”
And find it he did. Mmm, pie….
Forgive me for being unoriginal, but I’m a sucker for anything from the Cheesecake Factory. You must walk in there with an empty stomach or you’ll regret it. You also can’t count calories, or you’ll hate yourself in the morning. Just order something, eat as much of it as you can, and enjoy.
You, of course, have to get cheesecake. If you get any other kind of cake, you’re missing out on one of the best experiences of your life. Even if you don’t really like cheesecake, you’ll probably find a flavor of cheesecake that you’ll enjoy. They have everything from fruit cheesecakes (strawberry, banana cream, key lime, dutch apple caramel, lemon raspberry, cherry and pumpkin) to cheesecakes mixed with other treats (Godiva, Toblerone, dulce de leche, tiramisu, kahlua, peanut butter cups, Oreo, Heath, cookie dough, Snickers, and turtles). Pretty much any flavor with chocolate won’t let you down. Slices are generous – you can share with someone else and still have plenty. Don’t even bother going for a full meal – just go for dessert.
2925 Wilson Blvd Arlington, VA
When I was growing up, there was a small ice cream shop in the town I grew up in called Marvelli’s. They made their ice-cream right on the premises, and the smells that would waft through that restaurant are the most amazing olfactory joy that human beings can create. Warm cookies. Fudge. Vanilla. Strawberry. Lemon. It’s all there. When Marvelli’s closed in the mid nineties, many of us wept for the demise of the independent family run creamery. We need not weep here in Washington. Over in Clarendon, nestled into a block of two level stores, is Lazy Sundae, whose made-on-the-premises ice cream is the best stuff I’ve had since Marvelli’s.
Shakes, sundaes, cones, it’s all there. And best of all are the benches right in front of the façade, where people gather to relax, eat their ice cream and enjoy the last vestiges of small town Arlington in the shadows of the massive condos now going up all over the place. Go out this weekend while it is beautiful and experience the joy that is a Lazy Sundae
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs