Fat City reader Linda is celebrating her birthday this weekend and wrote us to ask where she could gather a group of friends together for dessert, coffee and liquor. She was thinking, maybe, of an attractive restaurant lounge with a beautiful bar and a nice assortment of desserts so that her friends could order what they wanted instead of sharing a traditional birthday cake.
I had a few ideas for a selection of different venues that might fit the bill.
For a more sporting crowd, there's the boxing-themed bar at Jack Gage American Tavern, where congenial bartender Karmen Moore welcomes birthday groups, even raucous ones. The dessert menu, created by executive chef Richard McPeake includes some economical choices (the $1.99 "World's Smallest Chocolate Sundae"), sinful ones (a chocolate cake with seven layers of fudgy cake and chocolate mousse) and an easy-to-share plate of Southern Pecan Fire Cracker Cookies: bites of pecan pie wrapped in wonton wrappers, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar.
The intimate lounge area of Chaz on the Plaza in the Raphael Hotel offers live music six nights a week (every night except Monday) which makes a sophisticated counterpoint to the dessert menu which currently includes house-made ice creams and sorbets, a lemon and blueberry tart and a rich chocolate torte.
The Starlette Lounge at Cafe Trio attracts a vivacious but motley crew of regulars -- and not, sadly, many starlets -- sipping classic cocktails. Pastry chef Tony Brocato (who looks like a movie star) has created a dessert list that features a "Triple Trio Chocolate Whoopie Pie" filled with mint buttercream cream cheese and raspberry buttercream cream cheese. There's also a Guinness chocolate cheesecake made with a liberal dose of Guinness ale.
And which restaurant lounges and bars would you suggest, Fat City readers, for Linda's birthday gathering?