This place has the stuff that dreams are made of.
And I don't just mean foodie dreams, although those are definitely manifested here as well. For the everyday man, woman, or child, Extraordinary Desserts is a magical place with rainbow-colored sauces, cloud puffs of meringue, chocolate medallions, and pillows of whipped cream to lull patrons into sugar-induced bliss.
I love love love this place.
Extraordinary Desserts has two locations in San Diego, and they are the brainchild of pastry chef Karen Krasne. She is a native San Diegian who lived in Hawaii for a time (probably where she gets inspiration for more tropical desserts), worked in several other countries, and has formal training from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She opened the first ED in the Hillcrest neighborhood in 1988 and later expanded to the downtown location in Little Italy on Union Street. I always frequent the latter, partially because it is a central meeting place for me and my girlfriends (ever practical), but also because the draw is not just desserts; the downtown ED is architecturally interesting.
The restaurant layout and facade were the work of architect Jennifer Luce, and I think most patrons would agree that her team did an excellent job. Both the exterior and interior make use of several raw materials such as steel and wood, and they are crafted in a way that seems organic and simple, showcasing all the offerings of ED perfectly. The interior also has a lovely open floor plan, clean lines, and high ceilings, which enhance an overall modern vibe and make the eating experience feel communal, yet decidedly not stuffy. And of course, the masterpiece of the entire restaurant is the show-stopping glass case that runs the entire width of the entrance and houses those outstanding desserts that make this place famous.
Extraordinary Desserts is definitely best-known for its sugary treats, although they feature an extensive menu of small bites, paninis, cheeses (cheese, cheese, cheese!), artisanal teas, coffees, beer, and wines. In short, if you are on a diet, this place is not for you; your willpower will be severely tested (in a good way of course) because I would definitely recommend having the full ED experience by enjoying more of their fare outside of desserts.
Namely, you should do what my girlfriends and I do each time we come here: Order yourself a bottle of wine, or try out one of their teas, or even a house coffee. You really can't go wrong. Then, peruse the small snacks menu, and pick something out to get yourself started. I would recommend the Pesto Genovese, which they serve with outstanding bread from local Bread and Cie. Next, please please please, order some cheese. We die waiting in anticipation for this cheese. Well, we really die waiting in anticipation for the Italian Moliterno served with luscious truffles. It is truly heaven in your mouth. Angels will sing.
If you order some cheese, then you can sit back and leisurely enjoy your "meal" (don't even try to tell me that bread and cheese is not a meal), while sipping your wine and appreciating the simple pleasure of eating and talking with friends. Because you can do that here; no matter how crowded the restaurant has gotten, we have never felt rushed or hurried with our desserts and food, and I appreciate that.
But speaking of the desserts, let's not forget about the linchpin of this whole dining experience! Whenever you are ready to order your dessert, the waiter or waitress does not come over with a menu. Instead, they invite you to head back up to the front of the restaurant and take another look. The decision is made with your eyes, as you gaze longingly at each creation in turn and wish you had brought along a second stomach. Now, I am sort of an indecisive person (my friends will laugh hysterically at this, I am completely indecisive), so the dessert choice is always difficult for me. Should I get the Banana Creme Tart, or the Warm Croissant Blackberry Bread Pudding? The Blood Orange Ricotta Torte or the Truffle Framboise? This time around, I decided on The Moroccan, because I have recently been obsessed with pistachios.
Velvety smooth chocolate mousse surrounds a delicate layer of honey pistachio almond
nougat. This exotic torte is finished with dark chocolate, crushed pistachios, and a light
pistachio cream. Yes please!!!
My lovely friend and fellow blogger, Jill, ordered the fruit topped pavlova, which is beautiful, completely delicious, and HUGE. Actually, all the desserts here are huge, and well worth the price tag, which is definitely not huge but not tiny either. Plus, the gigantic size means you can enjoy half of the dessert at the restaurant, and take the other half home to nibble on for the next day or two (if it lasts that long).
My girlfriends and I hold this place in a sort of reverence, because we have come here so many times, and it never disappoints. We look forward to each visit for days... weeks... potentially even months, and when the big day comes we greet each other with big hugs and then promptly proceed to ogle the desserts like small children in a candy store. Or, like giddy adults in the best dessert shop ever, since that is really what we are.