I think we've all been there before, that moment where we're done with dinner and we're not quite ready to go home or maybe dinner was great but the dessert menu just didn't speak to you. This happens to me quite a bit, and there is something about the festive mood of the holidays that makes me want to extend the evening and use it as the perfect opportunity to visit not just one great restaurant but a couple of them. Sure, there are places you can go just for a nightcap, a last glass of wine or a cup of coffee, but I love going to a full-service restaurant where I can cozy up to the bar or take a corner table and order dessert and nothing else. Let's be clear, though -- don't be that guy and show up ten minutes before they close or come right during dinner and take up a table just for dessert. Here's my top five places well worth a visit for their dessert menus alone.
5. The Melting Pot -- It may seem like I'm trying really hard to bring fondue back, but this is actually an ideal spot just for dessert. Mainly because it is expected and no one will be upset if you take a table strictly for the melted chocolate goodness. Go with the original if you just want pure chocolate; the chocolate s'mores is perfect for this time of year, or have your dessert and nightcap in one by adding Baileys or Grand Marnier.
3. Etoile Cuisine et Bar is hands down one of my new favorite restaurants. The food is elegant yet homey and unpretentious. Etoile also has some of the best desserts in town. The apple tart is life-changing and the dark chocolate pastilla is perfection in its execution and flavors. The paper-thin filo can barely contain the luscious dark chocolate and is paired immaculately with a sweet raspberry coulis and a tangy raspberry sorbet. Etoile also has a lovely bar area to enjoy a post-dinner muscat, or you can sit close to your dining partner outside in the patio area.
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2. Brennan's has been a Houston institution since the 1960s, and when a fire shut its doors there was no doubt they would rebuild, and rebuild they did -- reopening in 2010. The restaurant is better and more beautiful than ever. Tradition still holds strong, so you can't visit Brennan's and not have the bananas Foster. The bar area is the perfect destination for a drink and the flambéed bananas with Caribbean rum and cinnamon served over vanilla bean ice cream.
1. Dessert at Triniti is not just delicious, it's edible art. Pastry chef Samantha Mendoza is truly talented and it's easy to see why they are opening a bakery where she can shine. The dessert menu, like the regular one, includes many seasonal offerings like the pumpkin mocha cheesecake. They have a bright and open bar and lounge area that is great for post-dinner people-watching and for exploring the innovative and exciting dessert menu.