As a society, there’s perhaps nothing we’ve collectively said, “No, thank you,” to more times than the question, “Would you like to see a dessert menu?”
It’s right up there with “Do you want to join our rewards program?” and “Can you fill out this feedback survey regarding your recent visit?”
And yet, when someone at the table does indulge, rest assured the spoons will come out and everyone else is going to ask for a bite. When a decadent delicacy sits in front of us, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly!” quickly turns into, “Don’t mind if I do!”
That’s why you should always leave room for dessert: You’re not going to regret it. Dessert gives your meal the satisfying ending it deserves. It’s the final note, a coda to the evening’s edible symphony. Dessert is closure.
Some restaurants go out of their way to make sure you always consider diving into the final course, and we remember them fondly. The next time you’re at one of these thoughtful eateries, ask for the dessert menu ahead of time and you might find yourself skipping the steak altogether.
Friesian Gastro Pub
720 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids
Friesian teamed up with a pastry chef to develop one of the best dessert menus around. In fact, when the restaurant first opened, it was (somewhat unintentionally) one of the largest sections on the menu. They’ve since narrowed it down to the best of the best, including That Carrot Cake, a loaded walnut carrot cake with chai carrot custard, brown butter caramel, cream cheese cream and candied carrot dust. It’ll put your optometrist out of business.
38 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
Tapas are perfect for dessert — it’s easy to save room when you’re ordering your meal in pieces. You have to try the beautiful Tarta y Trufas, with a flourless dark chocolate torte accompanied by chocolate ganache, semi-sweet chocolate truffles, raspberry sauce and roasted white chocolate. ¡Buen provecho!
925 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids
Brewery Vivant has earned a special reputation for its dessert menu, thanks to pastry chef
Katy Waltz. While she just left, Vivant is currently enjoying Ana Randall’s new treats and soon, they’ll have Amanda Barnett carrying the sweets forward. The point is, whoever’s at the helm, Vivant is creating some of the best dessert around and will continue to do so.
Bistro Bella Vita
44 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
When you’re looking for dessert that looks and tastes like art, Bistro Bella Vita is the place to be. Just check out the Dark Chocolate Mousse: a fluffy little slice of heaven on a plate. The cocoa of the mousse is complimented by the nutty hazelnut praline, zesty spiced orange and sweet caramel. Dessert is all about balance, and you’ll find it here.
236 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo
Max’s South Seas Hideaway
58 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
It’s cold! Warm up with a tableside bonfire at Max’s, where you get to make your own s’mores right at the table. They’ll bring out a dark chocolate pot de crème, house-made marshmallows and freshly baked graham crackers.
Salt of the Earth
114 E. Main St., Fennville
All right, so you don’t want to make your own s’mores — Salt of the Earth will do it for you! They pile housemade marshmallow on milk chocolate pudding and toss that in the woodfire oven, then add graham cracker crumb and salted caramel. That’s how pros do it.
The Chop House – La Dolce Vita
190 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
The Chop House doesn’t just have a dessert menu, they have an entire dessert lounge: La Dolce Vita. Head below the steakhouse for bread pudding, tiramisu, cheesecake, lemon bars, crème brulee and more.
Kingfisher Restaurant & Deli
1001 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids
This isn’t your typical dessert menu, but after your meal at Kingfisher’s restaurant, you can always stroll over to the deli for all kinds of take-home treats. Mini bundt cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pie — they have it all.
Amore Trattoria Italiana
5080 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park
Amore has all kinds of Italian dessert, from cannoli to custards and gelato, but the real star here is the tiramisu. It’s Chef Jenna’s special recipe, so you know it’s top-notch. If you don’t believe me, head online to see all the reviews gushing over it! ν