Imagine this: it's 9:30 pm on a Friday night, and you and your friends are wandering around the frigid streets of NYC on the prowl for the perfect dessert spot to satisfy your ravenous cravings. You're in the mood for something unique, far beyond the it's-been-done-before cereal milk soft serve from Momofuku Milk Bar or rolled ice cream from 10Below. You want more than just a place where you scarf down your dessert while huddled in the corner, all the while attempting to warm your frostbitten hands. You want an experience. If you're looking for the place of dessert lovers' dreams, consider your search over. Pay a visit to ChikaLicious, and you'll never think of dessert the same way again.
The ambiance of ChikaLicious is almost whimsical; vintage 20's jazz music is trickling out of the speakers, and the clatter of cutlery and wine glasses is the only sound cutting above the noise. Upon entering, my friends and I were struck by not only the warmth from the heater (bless), but also the intimacy of this 20-seat eatery, built around an open kitchen where you have the chance to watch the chefs at work. The menu is of the Prix Frixe variety, where you get to choose one main dessert course which will be served in between two fixed others. Each option is as intriguing and tempting as the next. If there's one piece of advice I'll give, it's this: go with as many friends as possible so you can try multiple items (because trust me, you'll want to).
The Inspiration Behind the Genius Creation
The fresh and innovative creations served up at ChikaLicious are described as American desserts with French Presentation and Japanese tasting portions. Sitting at the wrap around marble countertop encompassing the small kitchen (aka the dessert laboratory), watching head chef and co-owner Chika Tillman (a petit Japanese woman who happens to be a dessert genius) working alongside her son and sommelier Don Tillman, is truly a sight to behold. As a customer, you get the chance to not only indulge in one-of-a-kind treats, but also watch the artists at work.
Unbelievable ambiance, service, and sweet delicacies, what more can a dessert lover or foodie ask for? If you ever get a chance to make it out to this place, you better sit tight and get ready for the dessert ride of your life. Here are some items I had the pleasure of trying out.
Grapefruit Sorbet in Crème Anglaise
The first course. This part of the meal is fixed, but it is subject to change nightly. This sorbet was the perfect opener, especially given that grapefruit is a reliable palate cleanser (so your taste buds will be cleared and ready for what's to come).
The Main Course Option 1
Fromage Blanc Island "Cheese Cake"
This isn't your typical run-of-the-mill slice of cheesecake. Served atop a bed of ground-up ice, this small white island is like nothing you've ever tasted before. Eating this thing is what I would imagine eating a cream cheese filled cloud would be like. 10/10 would recommend.
The Main Course Option 2
Warm Chocolate Tart with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream and Red Wine Sauce
When it comes to dessert, you can't go wrong with chocolate. This tart maybe be small, but it packs a ton of flavor. Perfectly paired with a unique-tasting peppercorn ice cream, this chocolate tart is both a visual and flavorful masterpiece.
The Main Course Option 3
Earl-Grey Tea Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon Sorbet and Frosted Pistachio
You can't find this one at your typical dessert joint. The creamy panna cotta topped with crunchy pistachios will have your taste buds begging for more. Just try not to devour it in 2 bites.
The Petit Fours
Again, this course is subject to change. My friends and I were lucky enough to sample the above. From the top going counterclockwise: coconut-crusted marshmallows, frosted pecans on buttercream tartlets, and chocolate pudding on cocoa biscuits. Each option is ideally bite-sized and delicious. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.
If you're a dessert aficionado like myself and find yourself in the city with nowhere to go, hit up this place and I promise you won't regret it. An amazing place with amazing food, ChikaLicous is a one-of-a-kind joint that will give you one dessert experience that you'll never forget.