By Jodie Meyer
We’ve all had the conversation — “Where shall we eat?” When talking with family or coworkers, it seems we hardly ever talk about dessert. Dessert often doesn’t get ordered, because we’re either full or counting calories.
With this in mind, I went all over Tyler and even to Chandler to find locally owned eateries — and some super yummy desserts. And I kept in mind those five magic words foodies crave to hear, ‘made from scratch, in-house!’
I started the journey at Jakes in downtown Tyler. Chef Andrew Jennings chose Chocolate Cheesecake for me to try. This was chocolate on steroids, super rich with a cookie crust (not the typical graham cracker crust that is associated with cheesecake). I had a bite to eat beforehand, so I had to have two friends help me eat it. I was impressed with both the taste and the portion size.
I tried a new restaurant Graciella’s (located where Josephs’ Catering used to be). Thomas, an employee there, said I had to have the Strawberries and Cream. It sounds too simple, but as it turns out that’s the beauty of it. It was simple, clean and not heavy at all. We’re talking only five ingredients to create one bowl of yum: strawberries (super juicy ones), three types of cream and sugar.
Next I went to Chandler to try another new restaurant that’s making a name for itself — Wade’s Place. They had two cakes to choose from, both made fresh that day: chocolate and Italian cream, I got the latter, because it wasn’t even 12:30pm on a Saturday and the cake was half gone. It was untouched when I first got there to eat lunch! But as I sat and watched (with increasing nervousness), people started taking slice after slice. Luckily there was some left for me. It was light and airy. As for the heavenly texture, I could feel a slight grit of sugar grain in the frosting (which I love) and the coconut was toasted to perfection.
Back in Tyler, I hit Sonoma Grill for a French classic, creme brulee, a dessert this restaurant should be famous for. The creme is luscious and just the right sweetness with the brilliant taste that is egg yolk (thank you, chickens). On top is the brulee. I have made this and I know this part is tough to execute — but they do it perfectly every time. It is a shell of caramelized sugar and you can hear the ‘crack’ as you break into it with your spoon.
Yamato has one of my favorite things in the world of desserts: fried ice cream! There are a few options, but the one standout is the green tea fried ice cream. It is both hot and cold, plus smooth and crunchy. And the flavor of the green tea to me is unique for ice cream. When it comes to the table, you see green and beige from the ball of ice cream they cut into four wedges. It is garnished with chocolate sauce and grenadine. In one word, beautiful. A really delicious treat.
Another new-to-Tyler eatery is Chris and Sam’s Grill and Tavern. It’s located in The Market shopping center just south of FRESH on Old Jacksonville Highway. They have a chocolate soufflé, and to my knowledge, they’re the only restaurant in Tyler that does. It was warm and satisfying on a rainy cold day — I would go back just for this.
A classic southern dessert I love is bread pudding. At Fat Catz Louisiana Kitchen, you’ll find a Bourbon Street Bread Pudding. It comes with a praline and bourbon sauce. It’s so gooey — in all the right ways! In my opinion, it’s one of (if not the) best bread pudding in Tyler. It makes you want to lick the sauce right off the plate – was anyone watching when I did? A specialty of the house is the Banana Foster which is prepared fresh with each order. Chef Cedric Fletcher promises his is the best around and honestly, I have to agree. Be prepared though, it takes a bit to make, so settle in for a drink or coffee and get ready to savor this caramel and banana heaven on earth
To end the dessert hop of 2014 I went back to where it began — Rick’s on the Square. Rick Elife has a dessert that his place is famous for, the one and only GiGi’s Banana Pudding. Everyone who has had it swears by it, including me. This is their signature dessert — creamy, with the perfect amount of banana. The ‘nilla wafers set it off and gives it great texture. It has been on the menu for years, and it’s still made by GiGi herself.
I highly recommend each of the delicious desserts, as well as the restaurants themselves — the old and the new, the near and the far.
I know dessert is often the forgotten step-child of the meal when dining out. But why should it be? Because we get full? Because we are counting calories? I have a solution. Go out to eat just for dessert! Share with a friend if you’re watching your figure. Why deny yourself, when there’s a foodie paradise out there?
And if you have a dessert that you would like me to try, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am positive that I could be convinced to dive into your creations and write up some heavenly comments. Its a tough job that I have here!