A couple of Sundays ago, I spent the late afternoon at Island Creek Oyster Bar, sipping cocktails and indulging in decadent desserts. I couldn't imagine a better way to spend a lazy winter Sunday afternoon (especially knowing that all I had to do afterward was head home and spend my evening watching the Oscars).
Now I'm sure Island Creek Oyster Bar doesn't immediately bring desserts to mind. It always makes me think of delicious briny oysters, but after this tasting I can definitely say the desserts there are not to be overlooked. We started with small glasses of Captain Hall Punch and some black currant macarons. Captain Hall Punch is a mix of scotch, sherry, and cranberry. I'm not a huge scotch drinker, but this is subtle on the scotch notes and makes for a nice wintry punch.
The macarons, served in an adorable mini mason jar, had that lovely balance of chewy center and crackly shell, and the black currant filling was oh so flavorful.
Our next course was a King Caesar, a vanilla bean Breton cake with passion fruit curd and yogurt panna cotta, and a coconut and pistachio layer cake. This cocktail was more on the tropical side with some tiki spice, a bright note on a cold day.
Passion fruit curd and panna cotta are two of my favorite things, and paired with the lightly chewy cake, they were just divine. A little crunchy tuille on top added another layer of texture.
The pistachio coconut layer cake was held together with Italian buttercream. For me, this was my least favorite of the desserts we had, but it was moist and a creative pairing for a layer cake.
A palate cleanser featured my favorite winter citrus -- Cara Cara oranges -- in a sorbet. One bite immediately made me wonder why I'd never tried making a Cara Cara orange sorbet at home.
The next course featured an indulgent pairing of a spiced maple daiquiri, a brown butter bacon doughnut, and banoffee pie. The maple daiquiri is a winter DTO (Daiquiri Time Out) made with light and dark rum and warming spices.
Sometimes doughnuts can be over the top, too heavy, too glazed, just too much. This was not the case with the brown butter bacon doughnut at Island Creek Oyster Bar. I was ready to take one small bite and move on, but instead that one bite was filled with light, airy doughnut, crispy bacon, a buttery pecan toffee crumble (amazing!), and a just-right amount of glaze, and that one bite led to several more. Doughnut lovers, don't miss this one!
The banoffee pie was a luscious mix of dulce de leche and banana pieces covered in cream. A topping of caramelized banana was warm and crunchy and took this dessert into indulgence territory.
Our last course was a chocolate-based pairing. We had cinnamon hot chocolate with agave and cardamom matched with a chocolate hazelnut torte. The hot chocolate was strong on the tequila, so it's definitely best sipped slowly.
And the hazelnut torte... they definitely saved the best for last -- at least for my tastes! The layers of crunch and cream topped with sour cream ice cream and seasoned with sea salt offered complementary flavors of sweet, rich chocolate and balancing mild tang. I loved the taste and texture combination.
At the end of the tasting, we each got to take a small bottle of spiced maple syrup and the spiced maple daiquiri recipe home with us. I may re-create the drink at some point, or I may just use the syrup to spice up some waffles!
Pastry Chef Lauren Kroesser has really outdone herself and the desserts alone are reason enough to stop into Island Creek Oyster Bar.
Which of these desserts would you most like to try?
This tasting was complimentary, but as always, all opinions are my own.