Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blue Duck Tavern: Apple Pie


You'll probably see Blue Duck Tavern's Apple Pie if you visit the restaurant.  It's visually spectacular and prominently displayed in the evening.  Seeing several of these vertical pies in various states of preparation, from cuts of dough to glistening golden brown crust in low light conjured an image of the golden age of pie.  It's a shop in Britain in the 1600s, with a wooden sign painted with "Pye", and it only makes pies.

Alas, Dear Reader, we write to warn you not to be fooled.  This pie was memorably bad.  The crust and apple slices were infuriatingly dry and there was no gooey filling to save those failings.  The apples were nearly flavorless.  Even mixing it with the ice cream at additional cost couldn't create a dish we could call satisfying.  We plan to give it another try because the Blue Duck Tavern's other food is so good and this pie is a signature dish.  We really want to believe.  For now, skip this pie.

Open Table (4.7/5; Customer Award)
Trip Advisor (4.5/5; Certificate of Excellence)
Yelp (4/5)
Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants 2016
Zagat (4.6/5)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Farmers & Distillers: Banana Cream Cake


We tried the Banana Cream Cake on Farmers & Distillers’ opening night.  I was surprised to see that name on the menu based on the cakes I saw on the bakery counter, so I asked one of the bakers about it.  The baker called it "banana rum cake”, and that’s a more accurate description of this cake.

The cake portion's flavor is similar to carrot cake with a banana twist. The frosting has a cream cheese base, and solid rum flavor underlines the cake.  The cake layers soften on the edges by mixing with the frosting, and are still dense and moist in the middle. The salted caramel ice cream is excellent and pairs very well with the cake's flavors.  The entire dish mixes soft textures, with the spice and rum offset exquisitely by the decadent smooth cream cheese.  Unfortunately, Farmers & Distillers is currently serving this and other cakes in very small slices relative to those at other Farmers Restaurant Group locations.  We hoped it was an opening-night issue, but this was still a problem as of December 16. A standard Farmers slice of this cake would deserve our great rating, but this version earns our good rating.

Open Table (4.3/5)
Yelp (4.2/5)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Palm: Big Chocolate Layer Cake


Chocolate cake is a steakhouse classic, so it's usually your best bet for dessert at a steakhouse.  The Palm's Big Chocolate Layer Cake meets those high expectations.

It's generously topped with a chewy fudge frosting that continues in a thinner spread down the back, where cake crumbs adorn it.  Five additional tiers of frosting slice through the cake layers.  The cake portion is impressively moist for such a large slice.  It's served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, and fruit, all mostly for presentation.

This cake is a unique and indulgent combination of textures.  The crumbs on the back form a cushion to flatten out the sharp chocolate taste of the fudge icing.  This dessert earns our great rating.

Washington Post (Editors' pick) 
Yelp (3.5/5)
Trip Advisor (4/5)
Open Table (4.6/5) 
Zagat (4.5/5)
Gayot (13/20)

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Pig: Cast-Iron Fruitcake


This holiday dessert takes a risk with chunks of bacon in a fruitcake.  For comparison purposes, this fruit cake is just a little less dense than the Entenmann's version or English Christmas pudding, but closer to those than a panettone. 

The cake's texture and ginger flavor mix with the brandied fruit and bacon chunks with pleasant results.  It pairs well with a cold winter night.  This dish deserves our great rating.
1320 14th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20005
(202) 290-2821

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dean & Deluca: Extreme Chocolate Truffle Cake


I attacked this cake with the traditional horizontal fork approach.  It repelled my  plastic fork in a glorious statement that it was a cake of more serious substance.

The cake was wonderfully dense, packed tightly with chocolatey truffley goodness.  It would only allow itself to be eaten by shaving off slices.  The cake's texture was so uniform and its flavor so deep and rich that it was like an artist captured the Victorian era in a dessert.  This cake deserves our divine rating.

3276 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3624
(202) 342-2500

Google map & reviews (3.84/5.00)

Yelp (3.5/5)

TripAdvisor (5/5; #2 shopping place in DC)

Dean & Deluca Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bill's Red Velvet Cake: A Special Holiday Post From Our Guest Writer Laura

We normally don't review desserts that aren't offered commercially.  We're breaking the format for a special holiday post from Laura, as part of our effort to convince her to write for us.  If readers are interested, we'll see what we can do to share this cake.


Having entered chocolate cake-baking contests as a teen in 4-H, I thought I had seen it all when it comes to the marvels of a faultless cake.  Not so…and not until Thanksgiving 2011 when Bill made his deluxe red velvet cake.

Umm Georgetown Cupcake?  Crumbs what?!  Oh Founding Farmers, you’re so close, but no thank you.  Bill’s velvet underground is where it’s at.  This perfect combination of homemade cake batter made with select ingredients that result in a soft and gooey deep red cake layered and layered with soft cream-cheese, almost-frozen frosting is the most decadent holiday masterpiece.  It's so good that you'll make Santa's nice list, no matter how naughty your calorie count gets. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Bobby's Burger Palace: Vanilla Caramel Bourbon Milkshake


Burgers are the new tapas in DC, and at least this trend tends to bring milkshakes with it.  Unfortunately, Bobby's Burger Palace's Vanilla Caramel Bourbon milkshake comes nowhere near living up to the excitement about the restaurant overall. 

Instead of incorporating the caramel flavor evenly into the shake, some caramel ribbons swirl through the glass.  This caramel sauce can add intriguing texture and flavor to an ice-cream dish eaten with a spoon, but it's largely lost in a dish enjoyed through a thick straw.  This shake lacked the deep, indulgent vanilla flavor that should be expected in a vanilla shake.  The only traceable flavor was the bourbon.  The problem wasn't that the bourbon was so strong or voluminous that it overpowered the other flavors; it was that the other flavors were weak and didn't blend well.  This left the shake tasting like chilled bourbon and sugar rather than a milkshake.  Skip this dessert.

2121 K Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20037
(202) 974-6260

Google Map

Washington Post (Readers: 2/4)

Yelp (3/5)

Tripadvisor (4/5)

Bobby's Burger Palace on Urbanspoon