For The Sake Of Cake or Chocolate, Fritters and Gold
If you have a sweet tooth and live in San Diego (not under a rock in San Diego), you have at least heard of the fabled Extraordinary Desserts. Chocolate darker than the devil’s soul, they say. Fruit-filled pastries so fresh that they would make Will Smith blush. Well, who could say no to that? Extraordinary Desserts has two locations in the city, one downtown and one on the outskirts of Balboa Park. Since it was early, we decided to go to the more casual location near Balboa on Fifth Street.
While the Extraordinary Desserts on Union Street in Downtown is more of a sit down restaurant style, the spot in Balboa is set up to be more grab-and-go oriented. Of course by no means do you have to “go” anywhere after ordering. There is plenty of seating, both outside and inside, but it feels more like a small café. Plenty of greenery and a subtle charm makes this a very easy place to sit down and sip on a coffee for a few hours – or a chocolate chai mocha. Whatever you’re into.
At this location, seating is first come first served. Feel free to assign a designated seat-sitter and someone to do recon on the desserts. While waiting in line, you are invited to gaze upon the treats of the day as they sit, well-lit, behind 100% sneeze-proof glass. Remember that everything will look, and taste, incredible, so be prepared to make a difficult decision. Most people will feel the pressure rise as they get closer the register; panicking, scrambling, and even second-guessing their choice. Play it cool. Damn near everything is delicious and you aren’t likely to be disappointed. After finally making a selection, you’ll receive a placard to post on your table as your plate is prepared. Of course, you can always take the alternative approach and let your dessert choose you but that would just be, like, way too far out, man.
The best part about ordering from the window display is that, no matter how covetable the confection looked initially, the plated version is guaranteed to be on another level. Colorful sauces, fresh fruit, flowers, even small pieces of gold will be peppered lovingly onto each portion. Such peculiar, lavish, …what’s the word? Extraordinary toppings for a dessert! As a word of advice, if you are ever absolutely fortunate enough to literally consume gold – you do it. You do it and you don’t hesitate to do it. Whatever you want to do with the flowers is up to you, but you eat every bite of that goddamned gold.
I eventually decided on Strawberry Strudel aka the extra fancy pop tart – ideal for my refined pallet. It came out hot and loaded with fresh strawberry jam and a light 'n’ creamy icing. She was a beauty. The cherry on top was, instead, a single strawberry wrapped in a rose petal and garnished with gold bits. Not even idioms were safe here. With only a fork at my disposal, I did my best to clumsily cut through the flaky pastry. I must have looked like an idiot – I did look like an idiot. Still, I decided to take the hit to my outward appearance and allow my tastebuds to hold a Sadie Hawkins dance with this she-beast of a treat. One of the servers ended up slyly dropping off a knife, sensing the struggle I was having. Greatly appreciated, of course, but equally disheartening as I was clearly making as big of an ass out of myself as I had imagined. At least my mouth was happy.
For the lady? The Flourless Chocolate Cake or, even better, the Chocolate Fruit Monster. That was the name we ordered it by anyway, as it was the only dessert mysteriously missing a nametag. It is safe to assume that this is due to the cake being so large, at least by individual desert standards, that the pile of them eventually grew sentient and conspired to overthrow their namesake. When it arrived, it was centered on a plate that was splashed with an intense smattering of fruit purées. The lifeblood of this monster, no doubt. My date took her time scraping up morsels of the psychedelic spill, her smile growing after every bite. By the time she was full, the monster stood strong and the scene looked strikingly similar to how it all started. Was this enormity regenerating? We managed to collect the evidence and promised to return to it for a late night study.
By the end of it all we were stuffed and nearly immobile. As in most situations, we could have decided to split a dessert and most likely would have been equally satisfied. There’s just too many choices and they all looked fantastic. Any attempt to split something will be stifled as soon as you walk in the door head to opposing ends of the display case. Going with a large group of friends might be the key. This will allow you to feast on a handful of choices and give everything a taste. Even if you do have to end up taking a bit home – what’s the big deal? All that means is that you have guaranteed yourself at least five more minutes of happiness sometime later in your life.
If I had to think of the downside of taking a trip Extraordinary Desserts I would also have to completely make one up. There isn’t much to complain about when you’re getting decadent desserts shoved into your face at a reasonable price in a friendly environment. I guess overhearing boastful, militant foodies at the table next to you is a bit irritating. All you can do is sit there as they loudly describe every bite as “piquant” or “seraphic” or whatever else was on their word-of-the-day calendar. Nevermind my infinitesimal complaints. If you’ve got a sweet tooth and are within striking distance of either of their San Diego locations, there is no excuse not to visit Extraordinary Desserts.