Sugar Rush: Blackberry Crumble at Nopa, San Francisco
Nopa is one of those restaurants where you could easily max out before dessert. In addition to entrees, there is an extensive list of small plates—though the nail in the coffin may be that my favorite dish is actually a side.
At the very least your main meal will probably include a lot of vegetables, if that makes you feel any better about ordering one last plate. And that plate should be the Blackberry Crumble ($8). If you're thinking, "Why would I save room for something as easy to make as a crumble?", I say this: Does yours have a coconut almond streusel whose nutty flavor perfectly elevates the traditional buttery topping? Does yours come topped with a scoop of lemon verbena ice cream, which though not overtly citrusy or tart, does add a light, bright edge to the creamy dairy?
Yet these are just the extras, the detailed, somewhat fancy components which elevate the crumble from a homemade dessert to a restaurant worthy plate. What really makes this crumble so delicious is the fruit. The berries easily keep their shape, allowing the dish to come out piping hot from what's most likely a reheat in the restaurant oven without having turned into jam. Where many restaurants overload on the crumble topping as an easy, buttery road to victory, this dish lets the fruit have center stage. The result is a dish that's mostly deep blackberry flavor, with a whisper of lemon, a swirl of cream, and the occasional burst of nutty, buttery crumb.