On a hot and sticky summer day, most indulge their sweet tooth with a cup of ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt or water ice. Come August, that’ll start to get more than a little boring. Should you be looking to shake things up a bit, there are plenty of other equally refreshing and season-appropriate desserts in Philly for you to choose from. The only real question: Which ones taste as good as they sound? (Answer: Most of them!)
Key Lime Cheesecake, $12
Swann Lounge, 1 Logan Sq. 215.963.1500
While meticulously preparing this cheesecake, it appears the chef forgot one very important ingredient: key lime. So rather than exotic-sounding “key lime cheesecake,” the final product was really just plain ol’ cheesecake, albeit one of the most beautiful, creamy and unbelievably light cheesecakes we’ve ever had. As promised, it was topped with a few slivers of roasted pineapple and whipped cream, raspberry coulis, a white chocolate straw and a single raspberry. By the last bite, it’s easy to forget this amazing dessert is missing anything.
Tarte au Citron, $9
Parc Restaurant Bistro & Café, 227 S. 18th St. 215.545.2262
Toasted meringue may be more of a year-round treat, but when covered with tangy lemon cream and garnished with fresh blackberries, it absolutely screams summer. Of course, being able to enjoy this tart-tastic dessert outside on a warm evening at a French bistro while looking out on Rittenhouse Square only enhances the experience. Light enough to cap off a heavy meal, the thin, crispy crust and sweet berry coulis help dial down the bitterness. They could be a little less stingy with the blackberries though.
Flan Con Frutas, $5
Bar Ferdinand, 1030 N. Second St. 215.923.1313
Small portions are one thing, but serving a dessert that’s about the size of a quarter just seems cruel. Topped with seasonal fruit—which, according to the waitress, is usually strawberries and blueberries—their traditional Spanish caramel flan is hardly worth $5. The even tinier $3 scoop of house-made mixed-berry ice cream, on the other hand, is extraordinary. They should consider selling the cold berry bliss by the gallon. Top off dessert with the “Summer Shandy” cocktail. With a mix of peach vodka and homemade lemonade, it might be the most beachy and refreshing thing on their entire menu.
Ladies Choice, $7
The Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St. 215.627.1899
So, yeah, this one has ice cream in it, and we said these desserts are supposed to offer an alternative. Wanna fight about it? It’s better than the other cold stuff you’ve been eating all summer. Raspberry soda: delicious. Peach ice cream: insanely delicious. Put them together, add a little sweet cream and you’ve got yourself one hell of a unique float. The pink concoction is served with both a straw and a spoon, but to get the full effect, you’ll want to ditch the lid and really dig in. Simply sucking it down, the super sweet soda overpowers all the peachy goodness.
Strawberry/Banana/Coconut Sorbet Crepe, $15.25
Creperie Beau Monde, 624 S. Sixth St. 215.592.0556
Jam-packed with fresh strawberries and bananas and topped with creme chantilly (AKA whipped cream), a scoop of coconut sorbet and a sprinkle of almonds, this may very well be the ultimate summer crepe (and quite possibly the healthiest dessert on this entire list). Whether you select a crepe from the house list of recommendations or design your own using their ample selection of fruits, flavored butters, sorbets, sauces and other various toppings, it’s hard to really go wrong. Just confer with your server to make sure you don’t go overboard—most of the ingredients range between $2-$5, so they add up pretty quickly.
Yuzu Creme Brulee, $9
Buddahkan, 325 Chestnut St. 215.574.9440
The dessert menu might not be the main attraction at a Stephan Starrr restaurant, but it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. By itself, the creme brulee is pretty lackluster. Everything else on the plate, however, is anything but. Made of pineapple-lemongrass and yuzu—a Japanese citrus that is somewhere between a sour mandarin and an overgrown lemon—the sorbet that accompanies the brulee is positively flavor packed, like the most orgasmic lemon water ice you could possibly imagine. It’s served on top of sesame tuile alongside tiny bits of kiwi and pineapple, all of which intensify the explosive flavor.
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