Dessert First

Butter Pecan and Vietnamese Coffee Ice Creams at Windsor/Churn

What kind of restaurant has dessert so insanely good that it gets its own storefront? Windsor/Churn, that's what. It kind of feels like I'm cheating here because the whole premise of Dessert First is to test restaurants' final courses, but when breaking the rules tastes so sweet, who the hell cares?

See also: - Meet Churn's Monica Castillo

Every time I hang out at Windsor I think, "If the ice cream is as good as the cocktails, it has to be amongst the best in town." The first little sample of butter pecan proved me right -- but then things got even better. After testing two flavors and debating about whether to order both, the server offered to combine two flavors in one scoop. Score! One scoop at Churn is more than a serving of ice cream (which is 1/2 cup -- no, really), so you get a fair amount for a little less than $3.

Butter pecan is Churn's most popular flavor, and for whatever reason, it was the one I gravitated toward. Wow, what a first impression it makes. Compared to other versions of this classic, including Haagen-Dazs, this one is so good you'll feel like you've never had real butter pecan before. Although it definitely has a reputation as a bland and boring option in the large array of ice cream flavors, Churn's version is neither. The butter is extremely rich, like licking melted butter off your fingers, and the pecans offer in-your-face nutty flavor. Toffee pieces on top double the butteriness, making it an extra indulgent treat.

My second pick, Vietnamese coffee ice cream, tastes like the first sip of an incredible cup of full-flavored java. I don't know how they do it, but the result has more pop and zing than any other coffee ice cream. The Starbucks ice cream in the freezer section at the grocery store is a joke in comparison. If I wouldn't feel horribly guilty (not to mention putting on a ton of weight) by eating this ice cream with breakfast instead of drinking my caffeine, I would. Even on the coldest day of winter.

The combo I created on the fly -- butter pecan and Vietnamese coffee ice creams with chocolate toffee pieces -- is a match made in heaven. The two flavors are impressive alone, but when combined, they're elevated to something even more fantastic. Together with the dark chocolate-covered toffee pieces, it's a great way to enjoy holiday flavors without opting for the usual peppermint, pumpkin, or gingerbread. The candy pieces on top bridge the disparate elements of the coffee and butter ice creams, creating a richness of flavor usually reserved for baked-with-love pastries.

If you think Ben & Jerry's is where it's at, you're wrong. Really, really wrong. Now get in your car, go to Churn, and order a Dominique sundae (we can make that a thing, right?).

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Dominique Chatterjee