Dessert Crawl NYC
NYC is a foodie’s dream, offering a deliciously diverse melting pot of cafes, gastropubs, food trucks, Michelin Star restaurants — everything you could possibly imagine. Confronted with overwhelming options, we decided that eating five different meals of just desserts was the way to go about our first food-focused blog post.
Taking a Sweet Bite Outta the Big Apple
We planned our dessert crawl for a cold and gusty Sunday morning, confident that splitting five of NYC’s rich desserts between two people would be perfectly manageable as long as we paced ourselves. After strategically mapping out a list of sweet spots allowing for least amount of travel time between courses, we met on the Upper East Side and began our sinfully delicious Sunday.
Banking on Cupcakes
After putting our name in for a table at Alice’s Tea Cup, we set off to explore the neighborhood while we waited for our table. We stopped by the famous Sprinkles ATM to make an early morning red velvet withdrawal and were unbelievably excited by the entire process (though Shayna claims she was jumping up and down for warmth and not in sugar-desperate anticipation).
The delivered cupcake was fresh, moist, perfectly iced and, most impressively, packed securely — no icing smudges in the box.
Demmi’s rating: 9/10 — Minus one point for the strange candy topping that Shayna tricked me into eating.
Shayna’s rating: 10/10 — Delicious cake, perfect frosting (and I didn’t have to eat the candy topping).
Brunch of Champions
Soon after our ATM withdrawal, we got the message telling us our table at Alice’s Tea Cup was ready. Upon entering, we were steeped in the calming fragrance of tea. Everything, from the handpainted murals to the charmingly mismatched teacups, lent itself to the quaint and whimsical aesthetic of the restaurant — an homage to Lewis Carroll’s classic story of Wonderland.
We settled down comfortably for brunch, opting to share Chocolate Chai and Alice’s Curious French Toast in honor of our self-imposed sugar-only diet for the day. The chai came in its own sizeable teapot — more than enough to share between two people, and light, despite its heavy aroma.
The french toast, served in bite sized nuggets of deliciousness, was infused with Apricot Brandy tea and drenched in syrup. It was perfect for sharing, with a satisfyingly spongy consistency and just enough crunch from its lightly toasted crust.
Demmi’s rating: 9/10 — Shayna made the mistake of visiting the bathroom mid-meal which allowed me to polish off 3/4ths of the amazing french toast. The Chocolate Chai smelled like a pregnant woman’s dream, but disappointingly did not taste like chocolate at all, so I generously let Shayna finish that off for me.
Shayna’s rating: 9/10 — The little french toast I was able to enjoy (thanks, Demmi) was sinfully scrumptious, though I agree with Demmi’s assessment that the tea could use a bit more of a chocolate punch.
My Fair Lady M
Leaving Alice’s, we consulted our map and headed for Lady M near Bryant Park. The bakery’s layered Mille Crêpes cakes have gained a loyal following for its sugary bliss. Each crêpe cake boasts “no less than twenty lacy thin crêpes enveloping the lightest pastry cream,” creating an amazingly light and airy texture unique to the cake’s painstakingly delicate construction.
We opted to split a slice of Green Tea Mille Crêpes cake and were practically floating from the soft and creamy layered texture and the faint hum of matcha on our palates.
Demmi’s rating: 9.5/10 — Amazing! I absolutely love green tea, and the deceptively light texture helped me feel way less guilty about our calorie consumption. Only downside: Shayna said she was “too full” to finish her half, but then finished it anyway… that could have been my half too…
Shayna’s rating: 8/10 — Green tea is also one of my favorites, and this cake is as delicious as it is beautiful. I’m only taking points off for the stomach ache I gave myself trying to finish my half before Demmi did.
Next up on our culinary quest: BESFREN, a tiny bakery in the heart of K-Town that we added to the crawl solely based on its amusing name and 4.5 star Yelp rating. The bakery itself was clean and brightly lit, and the staff was very friendly, giving us recommendations and explaining the different options of roll cakes and donuts available that day.
We settled on a lemon chamomile roll cake, which is a piece of vanilla lemon sponge cake with a very generous creamy chamomile center. The lemon sponge was light and citrusy, which paired well with the rather heavy cream filling.
Demmi’s rating: 8/10 — Tasty but the sponge cake wasn’t quite enough to support the chamomile filling in my opinion. The filling was also not sweet enough for me, and I would have liked it to be less dense, with more of the chamomile flavor coming through.
Shayna’s rating: 9/10 — This was one of my favorite desserts from our crawl (tempered only by the fact that my body was hating me for eating so much). The cake was light and perfectly spongy with a good amount of tang. The filling to cake ratio was a bit high though the subtle flavor of the filling made it feel less heavy.
Saving Grace Street
Our last stop of the day was Grace Street, a spacious Korean dessert spot not far from BESFREN that offers a variety of specialty desserts such as Hodduk (Korean donuts) and Snow Fluff (finely shaved flavored ice) with a myriad of topping options. Feeling the weight of the previous four desserts, we opted for something less carb-y and chose a Milk and Honey Snow Fluff, a delectable pile of soft, milk-flavored ice with a generous drizzle of honey on top and a pile of tapioca balls on the side.
We noticed various customers sharing desserts and instagramming their lattes — cafeteria style benches and ample seating make Grace Street the perfect place to grab a sweet bite and catch up in groups, large or small.
Demmi’s rating: 9/10 — The perfect place to end our expedition. I loved the tapioca balls especially. Next time I’m definitely getting the Hodduk too.
Shayna’s rating: 8/10 — I’m not the biggest ice cream fan, but I was surprised how much I liked this dessert. It was sweet and light and was a good (not so indulgent) way to end our dessert crawl.
All in all, we may have overestimated how much our stomachs could handle — at least in Shayna’s case. But when it comes to eating sweet or eating at all, NYC is the place to be. We’re already eagerly planning our next food crawl!
Tweet us at @NYCExplorers with your delicious dessert recommendations.