Dessert First

Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Brandied Cherries at Timo Wine Bar

Since opening last October, Timo Wine Bar has become known as a hip yet understated place to relax and enjoy an outstanding wine list along with fabulous wood-fired foods - and preferably a hot date. Along with Spanish-style tapas and farm fresh salads, the restaurant serves a wide variety of items that feature its best offering: fresh baked bread. And with enough misters to make the air feel downright tropical, Timo's secluded outdoor seating area is magically cooled down enough to make it possible to sit outside after sundown.

The comfortable, romantic atmosphere is enough of a benefit to lure people to Timo, but can the restaurant's dessert menu heighten the overall experience? There are only three options, the first being a predictable tiramisu. The Wood-fired Peach Cobbler that's baked to order was highly recommended by our server, who said she has "skipped dinner to have it." But something warm isn't always as enjoyable on a hot summer night, so that leaves the Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Brandied Cherries. When our server brought out a torch to caramelize it tableside, it was clear that the crème brûlée had been the right choice, especially since the custard below was perfectly chilled to contrast the warm, crispy top.

The overall flavor of the Chocolate Crème Brûlée is rich and satisfying. The chocolate itself doesn't have too much deep, complex flavor, but it will satisfy any chocoholic's cravings. While the chocolate alone wouldn't be too exciting, there are juicy brandied cherries buried throughout the brûlée like hidden treasure, which make the deviation from standard vanilla worthwhile. The cherry chocolate might not be as delicious of a twist as the Butternut Squash Brûlée at The House at Secret Garden (which, by the way, will be closed from July 1 to 24), but it is certainly worth ordering -- and more importantly, it's worth the calories.

The Chocolate Crème Brûlée is good, but that's not to say that it's perfect. For one thing, the texture is not quite right, being closer to heavy chocolate mousse than silky smooth custard. While that doesn't ruin the dish, it does mean that it's not as light and delicate as a well-executed traditional vanilla crème brûlée. Another aspect that makes it feel a bit heftier is the caramelized top, which was just a bit too thick. The best brûlées have a wafer thin top that snaps with the lightest touch of the spoon, but this one takes a little more work to break through and doesn't melt away within seconds on the tongue.

Timo Wine Bar doesn't have the best dessert in town, or even the best crème brûlée, but it's still a good choice if you want to grab a relaxing, potentially romantic drink and dessert to cap off your evening. If you're looking for a restaurant that serves a dessert that will make your night all on its own, skip Timo. But if you are looking for a place to have a little dessert while also enjoying the company of friends, Timo provides a great setting to do just that.

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Dominique Chatterjee