BEST RESTAURANT FOR DESSERT - 2005
900 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Is it possible that pastry chef Adrienne Odom is getting more accomplished, more creative, and just generally more great as the years go by? It defies conventional wisdom, but yes, we say yes, she is. Our proof? We stopped by Solera recently and had a dessert experience that knocked our socks off so profoundly that we may be forced to spend the rest of our days in sandals. First, first there were the dessert tapas ($8.50), a long, red-edged glass platter of five individual desserts. First there was a tall, thin glass of a gelée made with the Spanish sparkling wine Cava, at the bottom and top of the glass were ripe red raspberries, gilded by the gelée. Slide a spoon into the elegant stuff and you'll find a cool, still silk that pops and sparkles on the tongue with quickly captured bubbles; the whole thing tastes like starlight must, and looks like a gold filigree around rubies. Beside it sat a rich and creamy yogurt flan, as heavy and lush in the mouth as a dream contemplated. Next, a "pudding de patata," like a wee pound cake topped with almonds. And yes, it keeps going: onto a little toast topped with a silky whip of chocolate and olive oil topped with a few crystals of sea salt to better accent the savory, the strong, the practically intellectual aspects of chocolate. And finally, a small homemade chocolate ice cream sandwich in which cakey chocolate cake embraces ice cream made crunchy with almond candy. Is this dessert, or is this heaven? Which is to say nothing of Odom's roasted banana and chocolate empanadas with their accompanying pillows of cashew foam--pure beach balls of cashew essence, as creamy as cartoon clouds. Or her citrus trifle ($7.50), in which glorious layers of Meyer lemon cake soaked in vanillalike Licor 43 are layered with subtle lemon custard and utterly pith-free sections of blood orange, pink grapefruit, and tangerine, the whole sunshine concoction topped with an orange ball of blood orange sorbet. Each spoonful is like a burst of tropical abundance on the tongue. Simply glorious. So many chefs settle into a rut after a few years on the job, but it seems like Adrienne Odom has settled into a wonder.