Why do some restaurants overlook dessert?

February 15, 2012 No Comments »
Why do some restaurants overlook dessert?

I was researching dessert for a story I’m writing and when I got to Jackson’s Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa I went online to look at their menu but I couldn’t find it. I saw the savory courses and the wine list, but there were no desserts listed as far as I could see.  Too bad because I fondly remember the desserts I had there that included toasted meringues with raspberries and white chocolate coriander ice cream, and a molten chocolate  ”puddle cake” served in a souffle dish with a tiny pitcher of heavy cream. Then there was pear ice cream set on a white dusting of olive oil powder and  Maldon salt and micro celery. These are certainly not desserts that should be ignored.

However that’s not a rare occurrence. This oversight happens quite a bit and it subliminally shows the lack of importance some restaurants put in that course.

Yet that’s an ingrained problem. When our fact checkers call for menus for my Sunday reviews they are instructed to specifically ask for dessert menus; if they don’t there’s a least even odds that it won’t be sent.

It’s kind of a disconnect, because we’re a sweet culture–look at all the fruit sauces that seem to find their way into our main courses. If a restaurant has a good dessert, diners will likely leave with a very positive impression. Maybe some owners think promoting dessert encourages people linger too long for items for a course that usually cost less than appetizers and main courses. Many people, stuffed from the main courses, often skip or split a dessert.

Which brings up another point—the price of desserts are on the rise.  It used to be $8 was the going rate at most upper end restaurants that charged $12 to $14 for appetizers and $22 to $28 for main courses. Now desserts are often $9 and sometimes $10. But with $10 cocktails and $12 glasses of wine, this charge seems fair, especially if the restaurant cares enough to hire a pastry chef.

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