1201 Kitchen has been one of my go-to restaurants since the first time I visited for my blog for sushi a year ago. The seasonally changing menu, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and cozy, aesthetically pleasing atmosphere all play a part in what I love about this place. Yes, you can eat there for Taco Tuesday or try the amazing sushi, or even go just for the several varieties of pork belly they serve, but their desserts are not to be overlooked. Last night, Amanda and I headed into the restaurant at 1201 State St. to indulge in some of those spectacular sweet treats. We grabbed two seats and geared up to try both of the newest decadent creations that just so happen to fit in with cakes and pies category perfectly.
First, we started with the Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake. A precisely cut block of pumpkin cake is coated with a thin layer of brown butter. Brown butter is clarified, unsalted butter that is cooked until it turns a beautiful amber color. It gives the butter a nutty aroma, a silky mouth feel, and perfectly autumnal flavor profile. The cake is topped with sliced strawberries and red grapes that have been tossed in simple syrup. Diced gala apples that have been cooked in a little cinnamon-butter are added after the berry/grape mixture. Homemade matcha green tea mascarpone cheese is piped in large dots around the cake and fruit. Finally, everything is topped with a fresh vanilla bean gelato. This is not your typical sugary dessert. Though the strawberries and grapes are sweetened slightly, the apples and the cake itself are on the savory side and give the plate an amazing balance of flavor. The pop of the fresh grapes and slight crunch from the apples add a bit of texture, and the mascarpone is wonderfully creamy. All of these flavors and textures, topped off with the cool, subtly flavored gelato, created a perfectly composed dessert that is ideal for those who prefer to finish a meal with something that isn’t incredibly sweet and rich.
Our second dessert was a Mocha Hazelnut Tart. A ring mold is filled with a thin layer of chopped, toasted hazelnuts and then topped with a thick mocha cappuccino hazelnut mousse. The mousse is chocolaty, creamy, intensely rich, and, when combined with the hazelnuts, reminiscent of the ever-popular Nutella spread. The mousse is topped with the same vanilla bean gelato as the first dessert, but mixed with the chocolate, has an entirely different flavor. The gelato is garnished with thinly sliced candied ginger. The creamy gelato and the spicy ginger cut the richness of the mousse beautifully. Two sticks of Pocky (thin, chocolate coated biscuits), are placed on top as garnish as well. This dessert might be too rich for some, but it was truly perfect for me. I could just as easily have eaten the mousse by itself, but together with everything else, it is absolutely incredible.
Both desserts were not only beyond delicious, but each plate is created to order. These small works of art are just the right portion of dessert after enjoying some of their many other amazing plates of food. Thank you again to Dan, J.B., and the rest of the hard working staff that make 1201 Kitchen what it is. I will be seeing you again soon. The phone number at the restaurant is 814.464.8989. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. They are open Monday through Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
Until next time,
Andrew — Beard vs. Food