An Extraordinary Find
by Audrey Hsu
Extraordinary desserts is a small restaurant made just for dessert enthusiasts located on the very outskirts of downtown San Diego’s Little Italy. The surrounding area is packed with tiny, glowing, modern bars teeming with mingling adults, and cars are lined bumper to bumper because street parking is mandatory in most downtown cities. There is a large rustic gray door centered in between large glass panels, which allow the area to emit a vivid warmth of promising colors. Stepping inside, your sensory details are immediately invaded by rich chocolatey scents floating from behind the lit glass counters encasing many displays of decadent cakes and piles upon piles of thick nut riddled cookies. A platter right in the center of the cakes is filled with perfect spiral shaped macaroons, golden brown dusted with bits of toasted coconut. Varieties of brownies, cheesecakes, bread puddings, and layers of unknown cake combinations are topped with fresh berries and dusted gold. It was a stunning view for a sweet addict like me, and I got a chill up my spine just from looking at it. Chatter in the crowd rises to the chandelier peppered high ceilings and resounds off the walls. Behind a small podium is a marble topped bar, stretching to the furthest corner of the room, as well as many dimly candlelit tables where many servers dressed in semi-formal attire mill around. Minuscule pieces of pastel-colored macaron jewelry were laid out on a white-gold embroidered plate, and artsy deco colorful wallets were on wooden wall shelves as well as several cookbooks. Interested, I picked a few up and examined them, killing time until the waitress announced our name after about a 25 minute wait.
We were led to a small table for our family of four, and we handed the waitress our well thought-out list of desserts. On the list of requested items was one cheesecake brownie, a Gianduia, coconut ice cream, a strawberry ice cream, and a decaf espresso. I took another look around at the inner half of the restaurant. Outside behind a sliding glass door was a small patio with fiery heat lanterns and couples bundled up with scarves and jackets. A horde of college students were gleefully celebrating a birthday at the back of the large ballroom-like room, and older couples sat together slowly drinking various kinds of coffees, wines, and teas, with their desserts. Looking down at the long menu with rows of small gold script, there was an overwhelming amount of uncommon teas, coffees, and inventions between them. Small platters of cheese with fruit were available, and simple cafe food, like salads, sandwiches, and soups. Our food came in about ten minutes within ordering and our waitress, while being extremely busy with many other tables, was courteous and on par with everything. My first bite of the cheesecake brownie was an unexpected burst of chocolaty moist goodness with hints of cheesecake. Neither flavor overpowered the other, and overall effect was unique, but not too unusual. I took a bit out of the Gianduia, and rich dark and milk chocolate swirled around in my mouth along with crunchy glazed bits of hazelnuts. The amount of sweetness of both desserts were too much for my parents and sister, who did not eat any more than a few bites and washed the taste down with coffee and tea.
Overall the ambiance had a charming, rustic, and warm feel. They have a few neat offers such as English breakfast for Sunday mornings and happy hour dessert buffets for a set price. I have almost no complaints but that the handmade ice creams, (pistachio and vanilla) that we ordered were unavailable because they were sold out. Of the 20-something flavors of ice creams, about 80% were sold out, except for chocolate and coconut. The service was okay, nothing much to complain about, since we got all our desserts on time, so it might be a little nit-picky to say that they are short-staffed by a person or two. This comment is only because she did not have time to check on whether we were doing okay halfway through our food. I did not try their food dishes, but many people ordered and recommended grilled panini and sandwiches in other reviews. Most of the desserts were slightly overpriced, and an average slice of cake was about $6-8. At least for a dessert fan like me, I thought it was a fair price for the heavenly taste! The restaurant also includes many gluten free and vegan desserts and foods which is a definite plus. Overall I am delighted with finding such an ‘extraordinary’ restaurant and will be going back to try their many other selections.