The List: Desserts/Sweets & Cocktails
If you've been tracking with my adventure of eating my way through Creative Loafing's Top 100 Dishes, you know that today's post covers the last two categories from the list. I'm over half-way through my weight gain the dishes, so from now on, I'll just post items as I try them. I have found the "Desserts/Sweet" section to be surprisingly challenging to check off due to the far-flung locations and odd hours of the shops. (Sublime Donuts is closed on Mondays; Duck's Cosmic Kitchen is only open during the day in Decatur; Sugar-Coated Radical requires a 15 minute window every other full moon to get into; and the King of Pops wanders street corners all over the city!) BUT if you have a sweet tooth, this section will be one of the most satisfying parts of The List. So without further ado, here's your virtual sugar fix.
Aztec aphrodisiac truffle @ Cacao – I’ve always been more of a fruit dessert kind of person, so I was skeptical about tackling a high-end chocolate spot. However, Cacao was neither stuffy nor intimidating. Maybe it was because I was amazed at the artisanship of the people who were making the chocolates. I went to the Inman Park location (there’s one in Buckhead as well) and it was impressive to see the people in the back room hand dipping the candy. Clearly the store prides itself on the care and expertise they bring to the chocolate process. If you’re a serious candy consumer, you probably already aware of Cacao. If not, it’s worth stopping in. That said, I would recommend veering off of The List recommendation. The Aztec Truffle is made with a savory spice (re: “hot”) that is a tad too refined for my palate. However, there is so much goodness under the glass. Find a piece that sounds great and go for it! This is an experience in quality, not quantity. (The Aztec Truffle is the one that looks like a silver mushroom) Coconut Cake @ Wright's Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe - We recently introduced friends to our eating adventure and they picked up the Coconut cake for us as a surprise. Beyond fun! As a kid, I found coconut strange and unappealing. Thankfully, that's changed. This was simply an amazing coconut cake. Rich. Divine cake. Cream icing. Coconut galore. What's not to love? Thumbs up!
Ginger-lavender ice cream @ Morellis Ice Cream – If you live in downtown Atlanta, shame on you for keeping the secret of Morelli’s Ice Cream all to yourself. Why haven’t you shared this gem with the rest of us? Where in the world have I been? In case you don’t know, in the Grant Park area of town there are two little windows dispensing some of the most delicious, original ice cream I’ve ever had. There’s a steady stream of people at the corner shop clearly “in the know.” The first time Billy and I went, they weren’t offering the Ginger-lavender ice cream so I couldn't knock if off the List. I rallied from my disappointment and ordered the Chocolate Sea Salt. Wow. Wow. Wow. I still haven’t recovered from the experience. Since then we’ve gone back a few times and I’ve had the ginger-lavender and liked it well enough. I’ve also enjoyed the Rosemary & Olive Oil (who knew?!). I’ll continue to experiment with the rest of the flavors, but the Chocolate Sea Salt is my first love.
Grits Pie @ Home Grown Georgia – Confession time – I don’t like grits. (Yes, I realize that this puts me on shaky ground with my Southern constituents). I assumed that after living in the south for 15 years, I would have developed a taste for them, but it just hasn’t happened. I’m ok with “fancy pants” grits that are cooked with roasted red peppers or three kinds of exotic cheeses, but that hardly counts. So, in light of all this, the idea of a dessert made with grits stuck me as ill conceived. Still, tackling The List is an exercise in expanding my dining experience, so away we went! This time it was Lindsay taking me out for a birthday treat and before we even walked in the restaurant, we decided that Home Grown Georgia is great! When you get out of your car you can smell the aroma from the giant smoker behind the restaurant. Next time, I’m coming for ribs. The décor of the restaurant was a fun retro mix of mismatched chairs, patio furniture, and 50’s diner. I expected to see someone on roller-skates, but alas, it was not to be! We split a piece of pie since we were stuffed from our meal at Daddy Dz. The consistency of the pie was more like tapioca than grits and was certainly better than I expected. However, next time I’m going to order whatever is in season. Hopefully that will be peaches! NOTE - Home Grown Georgia is open for breakfast and lunch only. Closed for dinner!
Hot fried peach pie @ Dwarf House – Speaking of peaches (see above!), I had no idea that the original location of Chick-fil-A made fried pies. As a kid I would sell my soul for a Hostess apple pie. If we were lucky enough to go to McDonalds AND get approval to order a dessert, I always went for the fried pies. On the way back from a trip this summer (the Dwarf House isn’t far from Atlanta airport), I swung by to get the peach pie. I can absolutely see how this dessert would give someone flashbacks to their childhood. However, with a few years under my belt, I don’t think the return visit to a kid’s dessert is worth it...and with all due respect to the greatest chicken sandwich joint in the world...er...universe. Try it yourself and see, but the fried pie wouldn’t make my list.
Strawberry cake @ Piece o’ Cake – (picture from POC website) The next time you’re having a party and want to buy a cake, you won’t do much better than this pink tower of deliciousness. If your self-control around food is as weak as mine, you shouldn’t dare to have this dessert around UNLESS you’re having a party. It’s that good. I didn't even show enough discipline to take a picture before grabbing a slice, but the picture below does the trick! I hear that Piece o’ Cake is known for their Red Velvet cake, if you’re into that kind of thing. Strawberry financier @ One Midtown Kitchen (no picture) – This dessert was one of the first things that I tried when I started tackling the list back in May. I’m a One Midtown Kitchen fan, but I didn’t love this dessert. I found it to be kind of bland. If you’re at the restaurant, I’d try something else to close out the meal.
Two things to note on the dessert front – the pastry chef from Cakes & Ale (who was known for the Phatty Cakes) is now @Empire State South – so go there for that item. Also, rumor has it that Tierra is closing on February 17th, so if you want to try the famous Tres leches cake, you'd better bust a move!
Cocktails I don’t routinely order mixed drinks. It’s just not my thing. I’m much more comfortable with the wine list (knowing that you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take California out of the girl). As a result, look at these reviews with as much skepticism as you'd like! Remember, the dessert section is technically the end of the list. The cocktail section is just a bonus. No pressure to drink in order to play along!
Great Enigma – no longer offered @ 4th and Swift (and don’t bother asking about it – boy did our server get unpleasant!)
Hotel Arizona @ H. Harper Station – This is a tequila-based drink. I liked the flavor, but it was too strong for me.
Rye Manhattan @ Bones – What I learned with this experience is that I’ll never be a rye whiskey drinker.
Southern Cola @ Holeman & Finch – Deeeeelish!! This drink goes off and on the menu, but the mixologists at Holeman & Finch are happy to go off menu. They mix drinks as an exercise in creativity and with an attention to detail that’s super fun to watch. Happy Dining Friends!!!