Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dessert @ Luna Park

I had a great irish coffee bread pudding yesterday at work (moist, boozy, with a crispy caramelized top layer, topped with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce ... sooo good!), and was left craving more bread pudding today.  I also wanted a warm dessert, paired with cold ice cream.  I remembered that a list of the best bread puddings in San Francisco included a warm chocolate chip version, served with ice cream, at Luna Park, which was two blocks away from where we were.

We were able to walk in and get seated at the bar within a few minutes, so it was time to try it!

Service was fine, pretty much exactly what you expect at a bar.  The bartenders were crazy busy, but once you got their attention, they took care of you.  The place was loud and energetic.  Our silverware was served on a silver platter :)
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Humphry Slocombe Vanilla Ice Cream. $9.
I'm clearly used to eating at fancy places these days, as this dessert seemed massive to me.  This was no dainty high end dessert!

It was served warm, topped with ice cream, and cold chocolate sauce.  This should be exactly what I love ... warm desserts with cold ice cream are some of my favorites (when I'm not busy on a crème brûlée obsession).  Particularly warm crisps/cobblers/crumbles/etc once stone fruit is in season (I can't wait!!!).  Anyway, like I said, this should just totally hit the spot for me.  This particular dessert is raved about and I've seen it on a bunch of "best dessert" lists over the past few years.

However, not only did this dessert not wow me, I actively disliked it.  It takes a lot for me to actually dislike a dessert.  For those of you who know me, let me say this: I didn't finish it.  (I have a uh, problem, with feeling compelled to finish desserts, even ones I don't love.  I can probably count on one hand the number of desserts I haven't finished in the past year!)

Anyway.  It was served warm, which was good.  In fact, some parts of it were downright hot, which I really appreciated.  Unfortunately, this also meant that the ice cream melted within seconds.  I snapped the photo the moment it arrived, and by my second bite, there was no ice cream to be found.  It had all completely melted into the bread pudding.  This had a number of unfortunate side effects.  First, obviously, I didn't get to enjoy the ice cream, nor did I get the contrasting pairings of warm and cold, crisp and creamy that I was looking forward to.  It also made the bread pudding itself just turn into a pile of mush.  And the bread pudding was fairly sweet, and now pretty homogenous, so there was no way to cut the sweet with a spoonful of ice cream.  The edge pieces of the bread pudding that didn't absorb all of the ice cream were still crisp, and fairly nice in that regard.  I'd say the bread pudding was well executed in the cooking sense, warm and crisp.

The chocolate sauce on top was thin, watery, and cold.  Basically Hershey's syrup.  Meh.

The bread pudding part was just sweet and lacking any dimension, was soggy and kinda nasty, and the chocolate chips, while decently melted inside, weren't particularly flavorful either.  There really was just nothing good going on in this dish.  I felt like this was a textbook example of a really bad bread pudding that gives bread pudding a bad reputation in the first place.  Of course soggy, flavorless, too sweet, mushy bread isn't desirable!  Would never get again.
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