Best Desserts - 2012
In a town where, sad to say, serving crème brûlée in a flavor other than vanilla counts as edgy, the desserts at Niche stand head, shoulders, torso and waist above all the rest. Dessert has never been an afterthought at acclaimed chef Gerard Craft's flagship restaurant, from original pastry chef Mathew Rice (now pastry chef at Nightwood Restaurant in Chicago) to recent sweet gurus Summer Wright (recently decamped to the Big Apple) and Elise Mensing (now at Brasserie by Niche). This year, Craft himself is overseeing the desserts. His creations are, first and foremost, delicious: sweet without being cloying and often featuring the best fresh, seasonal fruits and other produce in unexpected, inspired pairings (corn and peaches, for one). Sometimes they highlight the aspects of dessert we love but don't dwell on, such as a caraway cake that intensifies the warm spiciness normally associated with carrot cake and cradles it in the gentle sweetness and tang of buttermilk, salted caramel and granola. Even something as simple as the housemade ice creams and sorbets elevate Niche's already special meal into a full (and filling) feast.