I go back and forth on whether to mention Chikalicious to people, because while it's hands down the best dessert place in town (this includes all the top restaurants in the city - that's right, I'm talking to you Four Seasons and Le Cirque), it is also incredibly small, seating maybe 20-24 people maximum. I don't want to have to wait any longer for a seat than I have to!
However, since no one reads this blog, it shouldn't be a problem.
Here's the deal: For $12 Prix Fixe, you get an amuse, your choice of dessert, and then petit fours. The amuses and desserts change daily, with a few standards (there is always a warm chocolate tart and usually the cheesecake). For $7 more you get a wine pairing tailored to each dessert.
The desserts are amazing. I use the word "amazing" to it's fullest breadth; you take a bite and wonder and awe spread across your tongue. The preparations are simple and straightforward, yet handled with such deftness and subtlety that your always surprised at the quality of the flavor.
The place is owned and run by a husband and wife team. Don and Chika. Don, a former jazz musician, acts as the maître d', tea master and sommelier, making every customer feel incredibly warm and welcome in the cozy space. He no doubt is also the reason for the fantastic music that is always playing gently in the place.
His wife, Chika, however, is the mad genius behind this culinary gem. Do yourself a favor and take a seat at the counter rather than a table - watching her work is almost as satisfying as the meal. Her knife skills are precise and her kitchen work is a model of grace and efficiency. The preparation area is spotless and remains so throughout the evening, even with the constant crush of orders. Watching Chika handle fruit, or warm a spoon to plate a scoop of sorbet is truly magical.
Her amuses usually consist of dollops of sorbet or ice cream in wonderfully prepared gelees - never too sweet, always unusual and always just perfect. I recently had a delicious sweet corn ice cream in cinnamon gelee, and a Darjeeling sorbet in an apple gelee there that I could have lived on for a month.
Then there are the desserts. In October, I was fortunate to catch, in season, her Pumpkin-Caramel Trifle with Spiced Genoise and Toasted Pecan. It evoked every warm memory of the first Fall slice of pumpkin pie I'd ever had. And this week I had her Vanilla Poached Pear a top a delicious cream sauce with Lemon-Verbana Ice Cream. This was especially dear to me as I'm deathly allergic to raw pears. Poached, is a whole other story, however, and the opportunity to have Chika's version of this dessert was... well, I'm running out of adjectives.
They also have a very nice cheese plate which, surprisingly, I rarely get, and an assortment of very nice teas and coffees in addition to their wine and spirits selection.
Anyway, I hope they don't mind that I'm blogging about them - I know they like to keep their operation small and purely word of mouth. Still, look them up and give yourself a treat. Or, you can keep on hating life.
Oh, and if you go, take me with you!