Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Always Eat Dessert First

Fromage Blanc Island Cheesecake -- Chikalicious Dessert Bar
Chikalicious Dessert Bar

It appears our recent foray around Los Angeles has inspired us to continue banging through the last few restaurants on our Best Thing I Ever Ate Manhattan list, as mere weeks after returning, we can be found traipsing through the streets of the East Village in search of our next meal.  
We Had Almost Forgotten What It Was Like to Eat With a Camera and Vodka Frantically Scribbling Notes
Our initial plan had been to meet at Tree Bistro, but being that the place doesn't open until 5:00 PM -- a full fifteen minutes away -- and that we have a patience of a couple of fleas with ADD, we decide to flip our itinerary and head to Chikalicious Dessert Bar first.  This means that we are going to consume a bevy of desserts before our actual dinner, which, all in all, does not seem like the worst plan we have ever come up with.
Particularly Because the Word "Bar" Is in the Restaurant's Name
We're not quite sure what has taken us so long to make our way to Chikalicious, other than the fact that we never really understood the concept of the place.  Within seconds of sitting down on its bar stools, it becomes obvious that we still don't, as we are incapable -- separately but equally -- of figuring out the menu.  
Here's Our Order: Wine and Cheesecake. Snap to It
While we are here to taste Johnny Iuzzini's Best Thing I Ever Ate BETTER THAN MINE dish, the fromage blanc island cheesecake, we also -- naturally -- would like to order some cocktails.  But, in a comprehension challenge that takes Vodka way too long to figure out, at Chikalicious, the only way to order the cheesecake is through the prix fixe menu, which includes an amuse and a plate of petit fours.  
Why Is All of This Menu Reading Standing Between Us and Our Booze?
While Vodka struggles with this concept, Ginger is currently in a full-on internal debate about the optional wine pairing that could come with the cheesecake, and it is not until one of the staff members walks us through the menu like we're illiterate kindergarteners that we finally seem to get the hang of it.
At This Point, We Wouldn't Be Surprised If We Inexplicably Ended Up Ordering a Pastrami Sandwich
We choose one prix fixe item, for which Ginger picks the wine pairing, and Vodka selects a glass of "Zinsanity" red wine, merely because it is just about the only one on the whole alcohol menu that does not seem to be sweet.  
The Lucy and Ethel of the Wine World
At Chikalicious, all of the desserts are prepared directly in front of you, as if they're craft cocktails at a hipster bar.  This may be a great concept for some people, but for us, it is distracting at best and awkward at worst.  
Are We Supposed to Talk to Each Other or Watch You? It's All So Confusing
The beauty of Chikalicious's creations cannot be denied, but frankly, we don't really care to see our sugar blended -- just bring us something to eat, and we'll eat it, no questions asked.  
Please Note Our Proximity to the All-Important Blender
We are given our miniature amuse dish, but what we are NOT given is a single clue as to what it consists of ("Tea?  It tastes like tea.  Do you think it's tea?" = repeat this ten times, and this is us trying to figure out what we're eating).  
Apparently, If You Want an Explanation at Chikalicious, You Have to Read the Menu
It is strictly "fine," as are our respective glasses of wine, but they are also not the reason we are here.  That honor belongs to the cheesecake, and when it is placed before us, even we can't deny that it looks exactly like something we would love.
Aka It Looks Like Melted Ice Cream -- Our Ideal Dessert Texture
Atop a pile of shaved ice, a rounded mound of... well, we have no idea what it is, really, but it is definitely not a cheesecake we're used to.

It is better.
What Is This Majesty?
"I literally would eat this for every meal," Ginger says after barely having swallowed her first spoonful.  
To Be Fair, It Was a Fairly Spoonful
Light and astoundingly fluffy, this cheesecake is more like a molded pudding than an actual cake, and it is topped by a solid pour of heavy cream.  Despite Chikalicious's open dessert bar atmosphere, we are still completely flummoxed as to how it was created, and the staff does not appear overly eager to reveal, well, much of anything.  
All We Know Is A Lot Seemed to Happen In That Blender
What we are certain of is that this cheesecake -- or "cheesecake," as the case may be -- just may be the best one we have ever had, both due to its creamy texture and its only lightly sweetened flavor.  
Could We Have Another to Go In Case Our Dinner Doesn't Work Out?
We have barely recovered from our love of the cheesecake when a tiny plate of three petit fours is placed before us.  
They're Not Kidding About the "Petite" Bit
While Chika herself does deign to tell us what each of them are, we're still too busy thinking about the previous dessert (and to be fair, getting loaded from our glasses of wine) to listen.  
The Infamous Chika, Partially Blocked by Vodka's Empty Wine Glass
We believe they consist of some sort of chai tea creation, and coconut marshmallow, and something that, when Ginger attempted to take her "half bite" of it, she ended up placing ninety-percent of it in her mouth.  ("Here's your half," she says to Vodka).  
Now You See It, Now You Don't
Vodka notes that the plate the petit fours have arrived on looks like something one could find in Epcot -- our highest form of praise -- which we nevertheless can only hope that the Chikalicious staff did not overhear, as we feel like we might just be the two biggest dopes to ever grace their premises.
Moral of Our Story: We Never Know What We're Eating and We Never Really Care
Having now effectively pre-gamed our dinner with sweet wine and cheesecake, we stumble out of the premises and onto our next meal, armed with the thought that always eating dessert first just may be a concept we could get behind.

Particularly, if said dessert is served at a bar.

Chikalicious Dessert Bar's Fromage Blanc Island Cheesecake: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

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