Since we had travelled over 2 1/2 hours to get there, we couldn’t leave “Willow,” chef Charlie Palmer’s newest restaurant (up in Rhinebeck, New York), without getting at least one dessert. And since it was a friend’s birthday, we let her choose.
After some judicious deliberation, she went with “La Foret Noire” — dark cocao cake, 55% cremeaux, “mascrpone” mousse, kirsched cherries ($9) — prepared by Mr Palmer’s pastry chef, Nicole Jones.
Now, “Black Forest Cake,” as we Americans like to call it, typically has layers of chocolate sponge cake that are coated with a cherry-infused syrup that may contain an alcohol (like a rum, for example) that is then sandwiched with whipped cream and cherries, and then topped with chocolate shavings and even more cherries. (You really have to be into this particular fruit (and, of course, chocolate) to appreciate this dessert.)
Unfortunately, we thought the sponge cake lacked a “sponginess.” (It was way too dry.) And, inexplicably, the flavor of the cherries was overly subdued. It wasn’t as strong as one would expect (or hope for) in a dessert of this kind.
While we certainly appreciated the presentation and artistic flair, it’s underwhelming taste and dryness lost this offering some points. But it still ended up with a not-too-shabby (but extremely generous) “B-,” the lowest score of the evening.
[While my companions disagreed, I thought this offering was more of a “C-.” But it’s best not to tell the “birthday girl,” as she loved this place, and would whoop my @ss if she caught wind of this review. (Let’s just keep it our little secret, please?)]
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