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Dec/Jan 2006

Just Desserts
Hitting the Sweet Spot
by Meg Donahue

Oh pity me, dear readers, as I have been assigned the unenviable task of finding the best desserts in Atlanta. But fear not. I have done my best to weed out the "so-so" places from the "oh my!" places to insure that you and your insatiable need for sugar- coated confections are well pleased. Atlanta is home to some truly superb chefs who take the harmony of chocolate, almonds and tiny puff pastries as seriously as you do. Here are some of the best places in Atlanta to put a sweet finishing touch on any meal.

The Melting Pot
It seems as if the French have an innate understanding of desserts that few cultures grasp. One could make hackneyed correlations between the subtle ballet of both white and dark chocolate pirouetting in a fondue bowl with forks poised at the ready, grasping cheesecake or overstuffed marshmallows. Yet this kind of flowery language only serves to guild the proverbial lily as this dessert is very nearly beyond words to describe. The Melting Pot offers multiple kinds of chocolate fondue ranging from Yin & Yang, a white chocolate and dark chocolate duet, to Chocolate S'mores, which harkens back to camp fires, ghost stories and God's gift to mankind-marshmallows. This dessert-as are all of their finales-is superbly done and comes with fresh strawberries, brownies, marshmallows and cheesecake for dipping. Multiple locations, including 3610 Satellite Blvd., Duluth, 770-623-1290, or

Jake's is known for their humor and ice cream.
Jake's Ice Cream & Muncheteria
Forget Baskin Robbins or TCBY, these national chains have nothing over the wit and creativity of Atlanta's own ice cream genius, Jake's. Each Jake's location offers more than 70 different flavors in their rotating repertoire, with original, witty flavors such as "Steve's Thrillah Vanilla," "Brown Sugar Vanilla" and "Chocolate Slap Yo Mam a (And Cuss Your Preacher)." Many of these names come from Jake's own customers, who take a special interest in making sure that Jake's upholds its reputation for both humor and excellent ice cream. The company wanted everyone to enjoy a little bit of Jake's, including those patrons who are lactose intolerant, so they created a special line of soy-based ice cream called "Joyscream," and for the calorie counter in all of us, they offer a wide selection of sorbets. Jake's is a local treasure not to be missed. Multiple locations, including 515 N. McDonough St., Decatur, 404-377-9300 and 8 King's Circle, Atlanta, 404-869-9002, or

Dish is a chocolate lover's delight.
Two words: "chocolate dome." Another word: yum. One would think that a restaurant that is a converted gas station, is Zagat rated and usually has a two-hour wait would have those strange kinds of desserts that only someone with a degree from culinary school would appreciate, but that's not the case at dish. The aforementioned "chocolate dome" is sinful enough to bring your inner, candy-starved seven-year-old self back to the surface with a vengeance. A delicate, frozen caramel mousse covered in a chocolate shell, the "dome" is delicious. Dish is also well known for its "chocolate dish 2005," a customer favorite consisting of a chocolate pot de crème with a chocolate flourless cake and brandied cherries. The portions are small, so if you're with someone else, definitely consider getting two. 870 North Highland Ave., 404-897-3463 or

Paolo's gelato is a soft, but more intensely-flavored version of ice cream.
Paolo's Gelato Italiano
When I told a friend that I had been assigned this story she immediately jumped on me to go to Paolo's for their gelato. I had usually shied away from gelato thinking it would be an oozy mess best suited for European climates and not refreshing enough for our humid weather. However, having entered this Virginia-Highland gelateria, I was immediately greeted and reassured by the photograph of the smiling Paolo looking down from the wall, as if to say, "Gelato! It'sa good. You try! You see!" Less firmly frozen, softer and more intensely flavored than ice cream, the gelato-cappuccino being an excellent after-dinner choice-opens up a whole new world of frozen delight to traditional ice cream lovers. Yes Paolo, the gelato, it'sa good! 1025 Virginia Ave., 404-607-0055, or

Cafe Intermezzo specializes in desserts.
Café Intermezzo
Atlanta tradition and European coffeehouse Café Intermezzo immediately impresses visitors with the seemingly unending selection of entrees, cakes, pies, coffees, liquors, hot chocolates and cappuccinos. The Café features an astounding 105 different pastries, with 38 different kinds of cheesecake alone! Special dessert tour guides are stationed at the display case to give novices help with making their choice, highlighting the most popular dishes and their own favorites. It really is the best place for cheesecake in town. If you don't like the richness of the cakes, Intermezzo also offers a wide variety of sorbets and gelatos. Either way, the intimate, cozy atmosphere of Intermezzo is the perfect place to warm up on a chilly Southern night. 1845 Peachtree Rd., Brookwood, 404-355-0411 and 4505 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody, 770-396-1344, or

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