New Restaurants Bring Their Dessert A-Game

Summer of 2016 will not only go down as one for the record books in terms of non-stop restaurant openings, but in terms of non-stop dessert deliciousness. From Logan Square to the Loop and from chocolate cake to fried gelato, newcomers all over the city have been bringing their dessert game big time this season. Here are some of the best new desserts we’ve seen so far this summer:


Pleasant House Pub
Trifle at Pleasant House Pub

Trifle at Pleasant House Pub

After operating in Bridgeport as a pint-sized bakery for a few years, Pleasant House uprooted and moved into much bigger digs in Pilsen. Housed in the former Nightwood space, the new Pleasant House Pub is bigger and and better than ever before, with a more full-fledged dining program, plenty of space, a “greenhouse” dining area, a bar, and an expansive beverage program spanning wine, beer, coffee, and cocktails. When it comes time for dessert, don’t miss the opportunity. As was the case with Pleasant House Bakery, these guys know a thing or two about sugar. In line with their British stylings, the pub offers a particularly exemplary trifle, something not seen very often in Chicago. It’s an adorable and beautiful amalgam of sponge cake, cream, and seasonal fruits. On a recent visit, said fruits consisted of a smattering of strawberries and raspberries. 

Cocktail Bun at The Bakery at Fat Rice

The folks behind red-hot Fat Rice have done it again. This time they’ve expanded down the block to open the aptly dubbed Bakery at Fat Rice. During the morning and afternoon, the sunny and vibrant space offers an array of unique Chinese pastries both savory and sweet, along with an exciting drink list of mango milks, carrot milks, and Hong Kong-style milk teas, among others. Of the dizzying variety of pastries, one of the best in terms of sweet is the Cocktail Bun, which is a Mai Tai-inspired confection in a chewy, soft pastry. The coconut-packed creation features a potent dose of rum and a welcome bite of citrus to help cut through the richness. It’s the breakfast of champions, no doubt. 

Guava croissant at Estereo

Logan Square is really upping its breakfast pastry game of late, as evidenced by the debut of The Bakery at Fat Rice and the all-day cafe and bar service at Estereo. Freshly opened from the folks behind such hot spots as Sportsman’s Club, Pub Royale, Queen Mary, and Lone Wolf, Estereo is a Latin American inspired bar that operates as a sunny cafe by day and a zesty, upbeat cocktail lounge by night. During the daylight hours, there’s a small food menu hinged on housemade pastries that align nicely with the Latin-accented beverage program. This includes one of the best sweet croissants to hit Chicago in quite some time. Filled with guava, it’s a delicious blend of Latin flavors wrapped up in French garb. 


The Dearborn
Chocolate cake at The Dearborn; photo by Kailley Lindman

Chocolate cake at The Dearborn

Something as simple, as classic, and as Americana as chocolate cake can be tricky to innovate and execute well. At the Loop’s new tavern, The Dearborn, pastry chef Courtney Joseph manages to whip up a chocolate cake with enough style and flair to put her own scrumptious stamp on tradition. Dubbed “Fantasy of Chocolate,” it more than lives up to its ethereal moniker with its medley of Valrhona milk chocolate, white chocolate, fudge cake, hazelnuts, and coffee ice cream. 

Fried gelato at Parlor Pizza Bar

One of the funnest desserts of the summer is easily the fried gelato at Wicker Park’s new Parlor Pizza Bar. A spin-off of the West Loop original, this one gets crafty with that creamy and cool summer staple by coating scoops of salted caramel gelato in Cinnamon Toast crunch and deep-frying it. It’s all topped with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries. 

- Matt Kirouac