With Easter just around the corner, I can’t help but think of sweets. I don’t know about you, but when I was little my bright yellow basket (which is still sitting in my Mom’s closet) was overflowing with jelly bean-filled plastic eggs, fluffy yellow Peeps, malted milk chocolate Easter eggs in pretty pastels and a large, hollow chocolate bunny with sugar candy eyes. My brothers, sister and I would indulge in sweet treats all morning long and after the sugar wore off, usually a short time after the Easter egg hunt was over, we’d all be in dire need of a nap.
Though I certainly can’t binge on sugar like I used to, I am one of those few who can’t help but get dessert almost every time I go out to eat. There are plenty of restaurants out there for whom dessert is an afterthought and you end up with the boring brownie a la mode or yet another incarnation of bread pudding, but there are a few who are the icing on the cake.
Located in the building that formerly housed La Thai, Costera specializes in coastal Spanish cuisine served tapas-style, so be sure to get plenty of plates to share, dishes like beef shank and potato bomba or blistered Shishitso peppers with Arbequina and Maldon, but don’t you dare skip out before trying dessert! I’ve already enjoyed a delightful, caramel popcorn crème brûlée, but was totally bowled over by their pistachio-crusted cheesecake. Each bite will filled with nutty, buttery, salty and creamy bliss . . . I ate far more of that “shared” slice than was fair.
On Poydras Street you can enjoy a meal under hanging plants in the courtyard of Copper Vine Wine Pub. Watch springtime bloom all around you while sipping on wine and munching on dishes created by Executive Chef Mike Brewer, the former owner of the now defunct restaurant The Sammich. Feast on jumbo lump crab deviled eggs, roasted beets with honey-whipped goat cheese, ratatouille and crispy chicken fricassee with boudin rice. Though the Copper Vine offers other wonderful desserts from affogato to goat cheese and lemon cake, there’s one that calls to me in the middle of the night dubbed the “Last Piece of The Pie.” Served in a pie pan, this creamy slice of buttermilk pie is served with Vietnamese coffee ice cream (cafe sua da), fresh berries, a berry coulis and thyme.
In the Lower Garden District towards the end of Jackson Avenue lies Turkey and the Wolf, chef Mason Hereford’s first and most famous restaurant that has been making waves across the nation. The hip eatery was nominated in 2017, shortly after it opened, for the Best New Restaurant category and, in that same year, named the #1 Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appétit magazine. Though Hereford’s joint is known for its Fried Bologna with potato chips sandwich and collard green melt with Swiss and pickled cherry pepper dressing, they also offer a simple dessert to satisfy the kid in all of us. Their nostalgia-laden, soft serve vanilla ice cream can be topped with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate magic shell and tater sticks, tahini and date molasses or (my favorite) graham cracker and tangy, key lime pie “crunk chunks.” Sweet simplicity in a $6 dessert!
This last dessert could likely seep into summertime sweets as it reminds me of another childhood favorite, It’s It Ice Cream. Created in San Francisco in 1928, It’s Its are a scoop of ice cream (lots of different flavors) sandwiched between two, chewy oatmeal cookies and dipped in chocolate. Though the quality of It’s Its has gone downhill over the years, luckily there are restaurants duplicating this feat and I don’t have to travel to the West Coast to find them. The first is at Warbucks, a new diner-like restaurant that opened at the end of last year. Chef and co-owner Todd Pulsinelli is kicking out dishes like double crunch chicken wings, crawfish etouffee dumplings, burgers with foie gras butter and a Vietnamese-style fried chicken sandwich, but my heart yearns for their giant, $7 ice cream sandwich made with crushed praline cookies and brown butter ice cream.
For only one dollar more, you can cruise over to Susan Spicer’s Rosedale Restaurant (somewhere you should visit on the regular regardless) and enjoy not one … or two … but three assorted ice cream sandwiches made with Quintin’s Natural Ice Cream and house made cookies. How about ginger snap cookies filled with mango sorbet or chocolate chocolate chip stuffed with roasted strawberry Creole cream cheese ice cream?
*Article originally published in the April 2019 Jazz Fest issue of Where Y’at Magazine
*Warbucks is closed