Best Of 2002

Best Dessert Menu: King Louie's

The most accomplished King Louie's diners -- and there are a lot of them -- understand the idea of pacing and have realized the necessity of restraint, even when they're popping pommes frites, shoveling in salad and biting into delicate baby ribs. First, don't eat the bread -- or, if you must, avoid eating more than one slice. It's a valuable waste of space, and you've got a specific destination in mind, one that dictates careful planning: dessert. If you're not careful -- and you usually aren't -- you're gonna ruin it. Second, make sure you drink a lot of wine, because then, even if you are stuffed, you can be easily swayed. So: bread, a little; wine, a lot. Armed with this knowledge, bring on the sugar: Grandma Petty's Warm Apple Walnut Cake; flourless chocolate cake, right now being served with a gooseberry (oh, call it love) compote; Warm Turkish Apricot Almond Tartlet, which is a vision that even the most bloated can't resist. These are the creations of Helen Petty, who's helmed the King Louie's dessert station for nearly a year. Petty, who was one of the masterminds behind the Chocolate Bar -- itself slobberingly good -- knows when to stop with the sugar already and understands balance and subtlety but still seems to appreciate a good old-fashioned chocolate-induced orgasm. Oh, and you should probably order a glass of port as well.

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