Wow! It took me like a month to realize that Pichet Ong, the owner of Spot Dessert Bar, is this tiny bubbly Asian guy from Amy Blogs Chow’s “stupidly simple snacks”. I think it was awesome of him to appear on the video while giving away two of his recipes from his other restaurant, Village Tart. I loveee this video, and if you haven’t checked out Amy’s blog, you should because her videos are super cute (and I don’t use the word “cute” liberally).
Spot is located on St. Marks, a ten minute walk from NYU, a two minute walk from Astor Place, a 30 second walk from Yoga to the People, and last but not least, a 10 second walk from Red Mango. It opened in late 2009, and if you haven’t paid attention, you might have missed it. It’s underground, although there’s this magnificently large window that you can peer through and the doors are pleated with glass. Oh, and there’s a giant chalkboard menu outside, marked with the menu in bright pastel-y colors. In order words, you really have to be blind to miss this place.
The story behind Spot is basically this- American desserts with an Asian influence. The menu boasts of hot and cold drinks alike, from bubble tea to Thai tea floats. There are cupcakes with their domed icing and cakes drizzled with olive oil. Even better, Spot makes a conscious effort to go green. The dessert bar is set against the backdrop of repurposed raw barn wood and glass, and 80% of the decor and packaging is made of repurposed or recycled materials. How do I know this? Well, it’s on their website.
Adhering to its geographic roots (on St. Marks), Spot is reasonably priced. Besides purchasing a-la-carte, you can divulge by ordering dessert tapas in three’s for only $19.95. I think that’s loads better than the $14 you pay at Chikalious a few streets/avenues away, as you get quite a decent portion.
And yes, $7-9 desserts may sound expensive. But if these desserts don’t wow you with the ingredients, they sure will with the presentation and the way all the flavors complement each other in this mind blowing experience that we call taste.
This was Sabrina’s pick. When it came out, we were so confused. “Uh, is this all three? In a glass?!” Deep down, I secretly prayed it wasn’t so and a few seconds later, the server (who by the way was super nice and quick) came out with another dish.
We didn’t know how to eat it. Were we supposed to lift the glass upside down and dump it all out? Or use a spoon? Or… lick it?
We chose the spoon method.
The top layer of the cheesecake was as soft as whipped cream and the strawberry sauce was foamy. But as we dug a bit deeper, our forks picked up this rich, creamy filling that was simply divine. A blueberry jam-like taste hid in between the crumbled crust and pineapple. Essentially, it was three carefully chosen but different fruits, all beautifully melded into cream and contained within glass. While it wasn’t our favorite dessert of the night, it came first in presentation. It’s a shame that we saved this for the end, despite it coming out first (the two other desserts both involved ice cream or sorbet), because we were too full to finish it all.
I’m not exactly sure why I ordered this float. I think it was the thought of having two of my favorite things in a narrow glass with a straw thrown on top. I asked the server to use cold tea (I think it would have been similar to affogato where they pour the hot tea over a scoop of ice cream, had I not specifically requested this). While there was nothing special about it, as in I could easily make this at home, Thai iced tea is always satisfying. Would I order it again? No. But, Sabrina and I felt like indulging and this definitely satisfied my craving for something cold and creamy.
This was my pick. Ironically, I had just made olive oil ice cream a few days ago, so I knew I had to try this. What was most intriguing was not the olive oil- it was the white miso semifreddo. We had no idea what that even meant. Later we realized that the white miso semifreddo was the ice cream-like substance layered in between the olive oil cake. Semifreddo, Italian for half cold, is made with equal parts of ice cream and cream. If I remember correctly, the server said it was made of soy. But what I loved about this dessert was not the semifreddo, nor the miso, nor the olive oil. It was the burst of concentrated raspberry that came from the sorbet. Oh my. I could almost imagine raspberry fields exploding in my head as I took each bite.
Hands down, my favorite dessert of the night. I learned that raspberry + olive oil = deliciousness.
This was the one dessert and Sabrina and I chose together. I don’t know about Sabrina, but I chose it for the peach sorbet. Surprisingly, the peach sorbet was a bit of a miss for me, or at least when I had it by itself. I mean, since this came out last, the raspberry sorbet from the dish before set such high expectations that nothing could have shattered that bar. In contrast to the light, sweet, and salty play from the White Miso Semifreddo, the Five Spiced Fennel Cake is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of raspberry fields, imagine pumpkin fields.
The fennel cake had this warm and and earthy taste to it. Imagine all of those deep spices that we all bake with- like cinnamon, five spice, nutmeg, pumpkin spice… Then blend that all together deep into a moist cake. The peach sorbet, which contrasted against the intensity of the raspberry sorbet, was light in comparison. But it was perfect in complementing the cake, balancing out all of those loud flavors. The caramel citrus was also a thoughtful addition, providing sweetness above all else. This would be the perfect dessert to order on a hayride (or in front of a fireplace).
And there you have it. Three gorgeously prepared desserts, influenced by both Western and Eastern cultures. As we ate, we watched the pastry chefs prepare other desserts. It’s a small, open kitchen, and it was humbling to see how such creativity can be produced in such a confined space.
By the time we finished, neither of us could move, so even contemplating the prospect of finishing off a cupcake would have been absurd. All their cupcakes run at $2.75 a pop, which is the standard for the city. Which one would I have tried? The green tea or the mocha with the sea salt for sure.
If you’re ever nearby or are just craving something sweet, I definitely suggest coming here. If Spot Dessert Bar was in the West Village, I think they could increase their prices by 20% and easily get away with it. For someone who is frugal and is constantly on the lookout for a deal, I really loved this experience. For $20, you’re not only paying for quality dessert, but you’re paying for the ingenuity behind the creation of pairing flavors that you won’t be able to find easily elsewhere and for the craftsmanship of Pichet Ong.