Reconnecting with the magic of (many) desserts in a hidden speakeasy.
The only thing we love more than dessert is… dessert in plural. Desserts. Multi-courses. We have had the opportunity, and certainly privilege, to have been able to sample multi-course dessert-only experiences across the world. During the day, Patisserie Chanson operates as one of our favourite patisseries in Manhattan. Traditional yet contemporary, reliable yet creative. When twilight falls however, its basement opens up as a sleek, dimly-lit speakeasy. And when we heard that said speakeasy space offers six courses of dessert at one of two reservation-only sessions on a Friday or Saturday evening, we waited until work finally cleared up and booked asap.
On our visit, Patisserie Chanson’s dessert bar experience commenced with three amuse bouche. The first, a bowl of popcorn burnished an amber brown colour by slightly salty caramel. This was followed by an eye-catching arrangement of salted figs, carrots and porcini doughnuts skewered into a potted plant. You can eat it all in one go, before the sweet course commence, but we highly recommend keeping the pot by your side throughout the multi-course experience as palate cleansing intermissions. The third amuse bouche was a playful prelude – a bubble of gin & tonic tightly wrapped in a sheaf of cucumber. Flavour explosion redefined in one gulp.
The first dessert course was a miniature cone of olive-oil ice cream, nitrogen-ice-smoked with the scent of lemon and pine. The second dessert course arrived in a beehive-shaped porcelain pot, inside which a creamy concoction of rice pudding was swirled with honey, honeycomb, pop rocks, and kumquats. The third course was probably our favourite of the evening – a passionfruit tromp l’oeil. Here, cheesecake was squeezed into the shell of a passionfruit, and infused with its tangy tones. It was accompanied with a hard jelly-like cake of sunset ombre hues. These Dessert Correspondents could not partake in the fourth course due to a food allergy, but our dessert companion did.
The fourth course was a tear-drop of peanut butter chocolate mousse served on a circular disc of Himalayan pink salt. As an alternative, we were offered a tropical coconut/mango mousse-cake embellished with pink bleeding heart florals, one of the signatures of the upstairs daytime patisserie. Presented and set-up like a chemistry experiment, the fifth course was our second favourite of the evening. A coffee maker was re-purposed to percolate a terrarium of pears, apricot, and cinnamon sticks into a glass cup of aromatic pear tea. A rustically-plated creation of poached pear with sorbet accompanied the tea.
And finally, the sixth and final course featured a line-up of whiskey-flavoured gummy bears on a perspex glass slab. We are no whiskey connoisseurs, but the softly alcoholic epilogue of the experience was most welcome to cut through the preceding courses.
For the sake of health (and budget), multi-course dessert degustations are not to be undertaken on a regular basis. Indeed, so many courses of sugar, even for dessert addicts such as ourselves, it can leave us feeling rather nauseous. Perhaps it was the inclusion of savoury items, but most unexpectedly, the all-dessert experience at Patisserie Chanson did not leave us feeling as though we had potentially induced early onset diabetes. Rather, we found that the profile of the desserts were very well-balanced on the sweet spectrum. We have previously reviewed the casual dessert-only spots in the East Village, and the ultra-rarefied Michelin-starred dessert-only experience at Jungsik. The dessert bar at Patisserie Chansons falls within the middle. Visit for a magical night-out, where the pastry chefs and service staff make the time and effort – (and oh, isn’t that such a precious thing in New York!) – to not only connect you to a multi-sensory, globe-trotting and seasonally-varying array of dessert textures, flavours and even fragrances, but also to connect with you over a mutual love for desserts.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Patisserie Chanson Dessert Bar, 20 West, 23rd Street, Flatiron, Manhattan, New York.
- ☑ Budget: $$$-$$$$ ($75 pp, excl. tax/gratuity)
- ☑ Sweet irresistible: Restaurant dessert (dessert degustation).
- ☑ Must-eat: The Passionfruit and the Poached Pear.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Re-connecting with the magic of desserts in a hidden speakeasy.