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Rhode Island’s 6 Best Desserts

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Resoultions...smezolutions. Psychologists say January 17 is the most depressing day of the year. So beat those winter blues away with a week’s worth of the best desserts we’ve ever had.

Crème Brulee

Pot au Feu, Providence
Those of us who are crème brulee addicts understand that we all have our preferences when it comes to this popular French dessert. It’s on menus everywhere these days and in comes in countless flavors, but few restaurants get it right. The best by far can be found at Pot au Feu in Providence. Served in a large, shallow bowl, the Pot’s crème brulee is perfection—silky smooth on the inside, not too firm or too custardy, and full of vanilla beans. The burnt sugar on top is exactly as it should be—a super-thin layer that very easily succumbs to your spoon (owner Bob Burke likes to say the sugar is the consistency of “a layer of ice that has just former on a November puddle.”)  Hey, if it’s good enough for Julia Child, it’s good enough for us! 44 Custom House St, Providence, 273-8953.


Siena, East Greenwich and Providence
This traditional Italian dessert was designed to provide a much-needed jolt of energy after a carb-heavy meal of pasta. Siena keeps to the classic recipe, layering Amaretto-flavored mascarpone cheese

between layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers. A sprinkle of cocoa provides a nice finish. Siena’s pastry chef makes theirs daily, but gives it time to rest so that the ladyfingers become soaked with espresso. We like ours with a glass of port. 5600 Post Rd, East Greenwich, 885-8850; 238 Atwells Ave,Providence, 521-3311.

Grand Marnier Soufflé

Restaurant Bouchard, Newport
The best chefs know that a good soufflé comes down to well-whipped egg whites. Over-whip and the soufflé will fall. But fold them in properly and this decadent French dessert will hold its heavenly, pillowy form for several minutes. Chef Bouchard does a number of excellent, delicious soufflés at this classic restaurant that he and his wife operate in the heart of Newport. The most delicious is the Grand

Marnier soufflé, which makes quite an impression when it arrives at the table, all puffy and golden. The true test comes down to the taste, though, and Bouchard’s is pitch-perfect—lightly sweet, delicate, not to eggy or over-baked, with a hint of bitter orange. 505 Thames St, Newport, 846-0123.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

DeWolf Tavern, Bristol
This traditional English dessert isn’t found on many local menus, but we have a feeling that even if it were, nothing would come close to the superb version that the kitchen at DeWolf Tavern in Bristol creates. A moist steamed sponge cake made with dates or prunes is covered in a warm toffee rum sauce and served with homemade vanilla ice cream.  The cake itself is not too sweet and the rich fruit

adds an almost savory element to it, all balanced by the sweet, rich toffee sauce. This is such a nice change from the usual. 259 Thames St, Bristol, 254-2005.

Native Apple Crisp Tart

Al Forno, Providence
There’s a reason Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli named the Native Apple Crisp Tart one of her favorite desserts on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” This dessert is as iconic as the restaurant itself, and for good reason. As with all of the food at Al Forno, it comes down to simple ingredients that are fresh and high quality: the best Golden Delicious apples, a little sugar, a little ginger, and a perfectly homemade pie crust made with fresh butter. Served alongside a little vanilla ice cream, this is a classic American dessert in top form. And they are made-to-order, so tell your server when you arrive that you’ll be needing one. 577 South Main St, Providence, 273-9760.

Chocolate Cake

Gregg’s, multiple locations
There’s not a Rhode Islander around who hasn’t celebrated a birthday with this classic, moist, all-chocolate layer cake. Gregg’s strikes the perfect balance between the kid in us who wants an over-the-top sweet confection, and the adult who wants a rich chocolate flavor but can’t stand too much sugar (or that icky supermarket frosting). It’s no wonder Gregg’s sells tens of thousands of these a year. No top desserts list would be complete without it. 1303 North Main St, Providence, 831-5700; 1940 Pawtucket Ave, East Providence, 438-5700; 1359 Post Rd, Warwick, 467-5700; 4120 Quaker Ln, North Kingstown, 294-5700.


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