BEST DESSERTS - 2007
La Belle Vie
"Would you like to see the pastry menu?" asks a server in the lounge of La Belle Vie, not wanting to presume—and the table nearly jumps down her throat. Hand over the pastry menu! That's practically the whole reason we're here! Some thought has been given to ordering the whole darn thing, all seven offerings, all $68 of it. It's not that money is no object but, you know, at some point the money seems like mere trivial paper when you consider the work, the creativity, the sheer deliciousness of pastry chef Adrienne Odom's creations. First, there's the mango and kaffir lime leaf semifreddo ($10), which looks something like a circus tent whipping in the wind, alternating bright, cheery lines of yellow and white atop a tangle of crisp strings—a launching pad, a nest. Atop are banners of mango paper frozen as if they were flipping and flapping in a breeze. For me? All of this? It tastes like sunning yourself in a deckchair in paradise. It tastes like playing. To get this much cooking strength, this much talent, this much magic in the perimeter of a plate, is by our reckoning a bargain.