There are desserts at The Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen -- the subject of this week's cafe review. And those desserts are very good -- especially the pineapple-carrot cake that's made from Chef Shiva Patel's own mother's recipe. But for some reason, after every visit there, I've always made a beeline directly to Petite Sweets -- one street over on West Alabama -- for a nightcapping latte and a pair of macarons.
(Yes, I realize that I have a different definition of "nightcap" than most people. Caffeine has virtually no effect on me after lo these many years...)
After some deliberation on why this is -- why this automatic pairing has sprung into my mind and steadfastly refuses to depart -- I think I've figured it out. Petite Sweets and The Queen Vic are a pleasant, perfectly paired yin and yang to each other.
Where The Queen Vic is all rich wood tones and deep, dark corners in which to cozy yourself, Petite Sweets is light and shiny and metallic surfaces and bright colors. Where The Queen Vic is heavy, rustic portions of stomach-filling pub food and gauzy pints of beer, Petite Sweets places its emphasis on miniature, controlled portions and airy flavors. I might still want dessert after eating at The Queen Vic, but I only want the scantest, most delicate bites of it. And Petite Sweets is perfect for that.
Just last week, Mandy Oaklander interviewed the chefs behind Petite Sweets: Susan Molzan and Liz Walsh. Molzan is perhaps already known for running Ruggles Cafe Bakery in the Village, and Petite Sweets is a partnership between Molzan, Walsh and Lee Ellis, who also owns BRC, Belvedere and the upcoming Liberty Kitchen in the Heights. Despite being a part of a rather serious collection of restaurants, however, Petite Sweets feels like a holistic outgrowth of two women's dream to open a sweets shop and bakery; it's anything but corporate.
Helping this feeling along are homey touches like the custard -- custard! -- that Petite Sweets sells alongside its cake balls, mini cupcakes and macarons. You can get it in dipped cone form -- an old classic -- or mixed up with Molzan's mother's hot fudge recipe (as seen above), that combines the chocolate with vanilla and Kahlua.
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And maybe that's part of the perfect pairing, too: Both The Queen Vic and Petite Sweets are run by clever, creative women who dominate in the kitchen...with a little help from mom's recipe box every now and then.