San Diego, California – Extraordinary Desserts

Restaurant: Extraordinary Desserts
Cuisine: Bakery/Desserts/Ice Cream/Cafe/Coffee
Last visited: October 3, 2010
Location: 2 locations – San Diego, CA (Little Italy)
Address: 1430 Union Street
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5 (based on what I tried)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 6
Overall: 6
Additional comments:

  • Since 1988
  • Founder/Pastry Chef Karen Krasne
  • “Best Dessert”/”Best Bakery” in San Diego
  • World famous
  • Little Italy location is must see location
  • Baked/Made fresh daily
  • Traditional French pastries/desserts
  • International desserts with French style
  • Innovative recipes
  • 20+ cakes
  • Fresh fruits, imported chocolates
  • Big portions
  • Dessert menu changes daily
  • Stylish atmosphere and food
  • Extremely busy/line-ups on weekends
  • Popular to locals/tourists
  • Gorgeous presentation
  • Savoury lunch available
  • Special occasion cakes
  • 50+ teas, organic coffee
  • Organic wine and boutique beers
  • Selection of gourmet lemonades
  • Online store

Hours:

  • Happy Hour available Mon-Fri: 4pm-7pm
    Little Italy location only
  • Morning rush hour pastry + coffee $6.95
    8:30am-10am Monday-Friday
    Little Italy location only
  • Open late

**Recommendations: Warm Apple Crostata with vanilla ice cream. Gianduia and the Passion Fruit Ricotta are popular favourite, but I didn’t know that so I missed out.

It’s awarded year after year as “Best Dessert” “Best Bakery” “Best Restaurant” “Most Decadent Desserts” etc. so of course I put it on my foodie list and made it a priority.

This was outside Extraordinary Desserts on a regular Saturday night. There was a half an hour line up and people were waiting inside and outside.

This is the gong show happening inside. We decided to NOT wait half and hour and check out the original location nearby… it’s smaller and not the full experience though. However it was the same thing with a line up outside, so we decided to save it for tomorrow.

The next day was much better. We went in the late afternoon after watching the NFL game. The San Diego Chargers won and we celebrated with cake!

Extraordinary Desserts is a San Diego institution and a must try or at least experience. I haven’t seen anything like it before. It’s visually stunning and even if you’re not a dessert lover it’s worth checking out. It’s like a museum for desserts and pastries and it attracts as many locals as it does tourists.

Let’s take a closer look… prepare to feast your eyes!

The only other time I’m been overwhelmed with so many gourmet desserts was at Lemon Garden Cafe in the Shangri-La in Malaysia.

This was the strawberry short cake!

The Neapolitan ($8.95USD) which was unfortunately not on the menu the next day.

Some kind of chocolate meringue cake that looked amazing!

A mixed berry fruit tart! Probably the nicest fruit tart I’ve seen in my life.

French Apple Blueberry Pie $7.95USD

The most decadent looking brownies $3.95USD

Probably the best looking chocolate strudel I’ve seen to date.

Chocolate Chunk Shortbread $3.95USD

Probably nicest Lemon Meringue Cake I’ve seen. $8.50USD

Everything looks like a flower arrangement and all flowers are locally grown. You almost don’t want to eat it they’re so pretty.

They actually serve lunch and dinner and it’s ideal for afternoon tea and of course dessert. The savoury food actually sounds great with gourmet paninis, salads, artisan cheeses, grilled cheese sandwiches ($8.50USD), innovative dips and creative bruschetta recipes including one with canided hibiscus, Goat brie and fresh chives ($3.95USD for one bruschetta).

Extraordinary Desserts is really an experience and the display of freshly baked gourmet cakes and pastries are overwhelming. Founder and Pastry Chef Karen Krasne trained for 15+ years at Cordon Bleu in Paris before opening Extraordinary Desserts. Being from Vancouver, BC it was my first time here and I would recommend it to any tourist. Out of what I tried there were some hits and some that were just okay. If I remove the flowers the extraordinary becomes a little more ordinary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still made with high quality ingredients, and it still looks great, but it’s just a bit more regular. I’m actually more impressed with Bakery Nouveau, Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie, Ganache and even some of the cakes at True Confections in terms of flavour of the desserts.

If people aren’t fans of Extraordinary Desserts it’s usually because they find it overrated and overpriced. I haven’t tried enough to say, but  they are pretty expensive, although there’s a lot of work and high quality ingredients so I can justify it. (Thank god the Canadian rate was pretty much at par at this time ;) ) I expect to pay that much, if not more, for a dessert at a fine dining restaurant and the portion was bigger here. Almost all the desserts are enough for 2-3 people to share. The flavour wasn’t as good as I had hoped for, but I would go back to try more stuff and the experience alone is more than I could hope for.

On the table:

**Warm Apple Crostata - 6/6

  • $7.95USD
  • This was my favourite of what I tried. There’s not a heavy cinnamon taste but the apples are large wedges and there perfectly poached and not too sweet.
  • A Crostata is an Italian style baked tart. It was in between a traditional French apple tart and a gourmet American pie.
  • The inside is a very moist and wet cake and it’s almost like a coffee cake. It’s supposed to have some jam, but I didn’t notice any.
  • On top of the cake is a layer of large apple wedges that are perfectly poached with the skins on and I think they’re Golden Delicious apples. They are very tender and caramelized and come across as peaches. They aren’t too sweet nor do they have a heavy cinnamon taste. The fresh caramel sauce is what gives it the sweetness and it’s served with the fluffiest cloud of fresh whipped cream.
  • The crust tastes like a flaky Parisian croissant with a very caramelized crunch. It’s delicious and it almost has a brown sugar crumble with some pecan and walnut pieces, but there’s very few of them so I wish there was more.

**Very Vanilla Bean Homemade French-Style Ice Cream

  • Single $4.50USD Double $6.50USD Triple $8.50USD
  • You can’t have apple pie without vanilla ice cream.
  • The ice cream is made fresh daily at each location and it’s worth a try.
  • It’s actually very light ice cream and it’s not that creamy but still very full and rich in flavour. It’s seriously delicious ice cream, but the scoop is pretty small and it is pricey for one scoop.

Passion Fruit Pavlova3/6

  • A cloud of meringue filled with passion fruit cream and topped with tropical fruits $8.95
  • Pavlova is an Australian dessert and it’s hard to come across so I had to order it. it’s hard to make well, but when it’s done right it’s excellent.
  • It was piled high with lots of fresh and ripe fruit. It was plated with kiwi, raspberry and mango coulis and every each sauce tastes like a carefully extracted puree from the ripest fresh fruit.

  • The meringue wasn’t my favourite because it was a bit grainy in texture and the inside wasn’t soft and fluffy like a marshmallow. The outside should be crispy and the inside should be tender, soft and somewhat chewy, but this meringue was crunchy throughout. It was still light and airy and it did melt in your mouth, but the texture wasn’t that of an excellent pavlova.
  • The passion fruit cream was more like a custard or pastry cream and it was fantastic with a sweet and tart balance, but I just wish there was more to balance out the huge cloud of meringue.

Roasted Coconut Cream Torte – 4.5/6

  • A paradise of coconut. Vanilla cake moistened with coconut milk and layered with coconut mousse, coconut custard, and whipped cream. This heavenly torte is finished with toasted coconut and a cornucopia of fresh fruits. Made with organic coconut. $8.50USD
  • See what I mean! Remove the pretty flowers on the top and it just looks like a very basic cake. It was good, but I have to admit it’s a bit forgettable.
  • I love coconut so this was a natural choice. It’s almost like coconut cream pie. It’s very creamy and mousy and soft and definitely more like a torte than a cake. There was so much cream it could have been a trifle.
  • There’s lots of coconut flavour and freshly toasted coconut flakes on the edges, but I could have used lots more coconut flakes with some on top too.
  • The vanilla cake layers are very moist and light sponge cake layers, but the cake and coconut custard are a bit overwhelmed because the layers aren’t distinct enough. The texture and taste is a bit one dimensional and it just comes across as all coconut cream.
  • It’s better than the coconut buttercream cake from Meindhardt Fine Foods in Vancouver, BC.

Warm Chocolate Pecan Pie – 4/6

  • $8.95USD
  • It’s plated with intense chocolate and home made caramel sauce with a fluffy dollop of fresh whipped cream.
  • This was very good, but a few bites is good enough for me… and I love chocolate.

  • It’s huge, and since it’s so rich and sweet it’s more than enough for 3 people to share.
  • It’s a very dense chocolate pie and it tastes like a flourless molten lava cake meets pecan pie meets a half baked brownie.

  • It has a thin and crunchy chocolate shell and it’s filled with a very thick and creamy bittersweet chocolate cake that’s very moist and sticks to your throat.
  • It tastes like the most intense chocolate pecan brownie ever and I think it’s 80% cocoa because there’s an obvious bitterness, however it’s still very sweet.
  • It was very indulgent and it reminded me of the Molten Chocolate Lava Brownie from Q4 in Vancouver, BC.,

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