The sweetest thing
File photo by Susan Safford
I'm a fan of something sweet after dinner, but all I need is one bite, maybe two. I have friends who "save room" for dessert, or only order an appetizer so that they can get their own dessert and not share with me. In my family, a meal isn't complete without dessert. I grew up baking Christmas and birthday presents for relatives, a tradition that hasn't changed much.
On dessert menus you see a reinvention of classic desserts ranging from pineapple upside down cake to s'mores. There are the standbys and crowd pleasers such as apple crisp or pie, cheesecake and molten lava cake, and blank canvas desserts such as crème brulée and panna cotta being infused with new flavors. I like the savory side of sweets, desserts using salt, herbs, citrus, and butter. With the changing of seasons, you can expect updated dessert menus full of fall flavors such as pumpkin, apple, pear, and cranberry.
There are places on the Island that I would go to solely for dessert, they are that good. I have mentioned some of them before. Here is a selection of desserts offered at Island restaurants for the next time your sweet tooth gets the best of you:
Stop by Offshore Ale Co. in Oak Bluffs for a dessert prepared daily in-house by Vineyard baker Leslie Hewson, formerly of Mediterranean Restaurant. Offerings range from peanut butter pie to cheesecake and include house favorites such as the warm chocolate chip cookies, three in an order and served a la mode if you'd like, and the chocolate stout cake made with Offshore's own Steeprock Stout. Ask your server about the Offshore Dessert Mug, a daily creation made by Ms. Hewson.
Alchemy in Edgartown serves classic favorites such as chocolate lava cake and espresso tiramisu. For something different try the ginger and Saint Germain cake with meyer lemon curd, pistachio crème anglaise, and vanilla ice cream. Or for a tropical twist, try the coconut cake and macadamia crisp topped with vanilla gelato and caramelized pineapple.
Atlantic in Edgartown boasts an extensive dessert menu with whimsical preparations such as Shakes & Cookies: three house-made chocolate chip cookies with vanilla and strawberry milkshakes served with brandied cherries. Share the massive four-layered carrot cake with your friends or for adults, try the Drunken Beignets with shots of white chocolate Godiva liqueur and Mozart Belgian milk chocolate liqueur.
After dinner at Chesca's in Edgartown, make sure to try the Snowball: vanilla bean ice cream coated with sponge cake crumbs, perched on top of a house made caramel sauce moat, sprinkled with Chilmark Chocolate's almond-butter crunch crumbles. Also on the menu is a fresh fruit brown butter cobbler with sweetened mascarpone drizzle. For those with dietary restrictions, make sure to ask your server about the gluten-free brownies.
Crack into the crème brulée at Mon Amour in Vineyard Haven or try the chocolate Grand Marnier brownie with almond buttercream ice cream, or the mascarpone cheesecake with a graham cracker crust and strawberry sauce.
A favorite at Saltwater in Vineyard Haven is the Sea Salt Ice Cream with caramel sauce and almond brittle. For a pick me up, try the Afogato: vanilla bean ice cream topped with hot Flatback espresso; or the strawberry rhubarb crisp served a la mode.
At Le Grenier in Vineyard Haven, choose from a list of French classics such as crème caramel, profiteroles, and crème brulée. For a tableside spectacle, order the banana flambée, served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.
Next time you are at Sharky's Cantina in Oak Bluffs or Edgartown, for the table, order the behemoth warm skillet baked cookie or brownie sundae served with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce.