I know desserts is "stressed" backwards and I know I work better under stress but geez...
Today I went out to lunch with the exec chef and the Bqt Chef to sorta check out the competition and to see how the desserts were plated. The pastry chef of this resteraunt has won several awards in Southern AZ and the resteraunt has a similar price range and rating as ours. After a stingy little cheese plate -which included port salut and sauteed Marcona Almonds so they are nearly forgiven - we ordered lunch. I ordered roasted chicken parm pasta with tomato, baby spinach and pine nuts in butter sauce. FREAKIN' FABULOUS!!! The pasta was just the right amount of done and most likely housemade, spinach was wilty but not gross, pine nuts still crisp, chicken was tasty. YUM!!! One of the guys ordered pulled pork which I was nearly drooling over til I got the first taste of mine.
For dessert we got: Creme Brulee - nearly buttery it was so rich but so sweet it hurt the teeth, also took him several minutes to scrape the mound of berries off the top to actually get to the custard, which was ginger so why a pile of blackberries? A Praline Bar thingy with ice cream that looked nice but didn't eat well. Warm flourless cake with banana gelato - didn't taste the gelato but the cake was divine. I ordered the banana trio: banana cake with banana mousse, frozen bananas, banana malted milk shake... dissappointment followed. The cake was banana-y and good textured but MUCH, MUCH too sweet, the milkshake wasn't thick at all and really I was expecting chocolate with the malt flavor (oh and the cup was stuck to the plate with caramel sauce - -looked icky). The frozen bananas came out dipped in chocolate, then rolled in various toppings, they looked cool but wouldn't cut with a fork and the one I popped in my mouth whole was too frozen to actually chew. 3 of the plates had the same chocolate strip as the only plate design, 2 had fanned strawberries and 3 had cheap chocolate cigarettes. Also on the menu was an "apple pop tart" and "spiced pumkin custard".
I left the resteraunt thinking to myself "this is what they want me to aspire to?" . Currently our desserts each have flavor appropriate sauces that are different on each plate, one does have a chocolate cigarette (but we pay for the nicer ones), one has a butter tuile with pistachios, housemade biscotti on another... each is its own seperate entitiy. I am working on changing out 2 desserts and switching all 5 to plate-to-order. I have a small amount of pride in what we do have, it's not the 4 diamond desserts that we are working towards but they are all nice. I view what we saw today as a mere step sideways (homestyle and routine), not looking foward or moving up. Sooo, how to reconcile what the exec chef and F & B director want with what I consider an upscale desssert?