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Retro Desserts ahoy: Molten Chocolate Beet Cake

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In the 80′s it was tiramisu, in the 90′s it was molten chocolate cake. Lava cake. Half-cooked chocolate cake. Whatever it was called, it became the decade’s most emblematic dessert, and if they ever make a sequel to American Psycho set in 1996, expect to see it on every table in every restaurant scene. The French are still fighting over who invented it. Jean-Georges Vongerichten made it popular, but Jacques Torres says it was already all over the place in France by the time Jean-Georges kidnapped it and brought it to America. Jacquie Chibois did it. No, wait, Michel Bras did it. Wait, Francois Payard made it back in the 80′s! Whoever made it, you couldn’t throw a creme brulee in Manhattan in 1997 without hitting a dozen molten chocolate cakes at high end restaurants. These days, despite it being delicious, it’s tired and played out.

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Even Chilis has molten chocolate cake on its menu.

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So that means, of course, I had to put one on my menu.

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I love to do my part to rescue things that have fallen out of fashion. Like big hair!

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I could feel the molten chocolate cake rumbling in my veins, getting ready to be born. It was time for my red pepper velvet cake to go to the island of retired dishes, and I wanted to get chocolate back on the menu. I firmly believe that dessert isn’t dessert unless it has chocolate in it, and while I loved the red pepper velvet cake, I was inflamed by a primal desire to get more chocolate on my menu. I was thinking about being 22 and what I thought was sophisticated back then and I started thinking about mixing beets with chocolate, which is a really earthy and rich pairing of flavors. And I started thinking about molten chocolate cake. And I realized that I wanted that molten center to be bright red and angry, and to ooze out onto the plate like it was steaming up right out of the earth’s core, which meant that I had no choice but to go beets.

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But the plate needed ice cream. Ice cream and cake is the greatest dessert pairing ever — nothing else even comes close — and pear ice cream would be perfect. Beets and pears are constant companions in winter salads, so why not pair pear sorbet and molten chocolate beet cake? But regular pears didn’t have enough flavor when we turned it into sorbet, so we roasted the pears, turned them into sorbet and that did the trick.

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Those dots on the left are beet caramel, just for fun, and in the upper right-hand corner that’s pear and beet leather. I’ve got all these dehydrators in the restaurant and since I was already going retro, and because the reason dehydrators originally became popular is that people were making fruit leather at home way back in the 70′s, I figured, why not do it here, too?

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The beets give them their colors (different beets for each color – yellow, red and candy cane) and the pears gave the fruit leather flavor. The final result? A 90′s dessert making a rich, dark comeback cut with the sweet, caramelized taste of roasted pears.

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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