Esteban Acosta recently took over as Executive Pastry Chef at Nine-Ten, an upscale spot in La Jolla with a solid reputation for sweets—pretty nice digs for his first official gig. The new fall menu is Esteban's second for the restaurant, and is stocked with avant garde takes on familiar flavors, like apple-date beignets, brown butter cake, and a malted chocolate tart, plus Nine-Ten's longstanding half-baked chocolate cake, which isn't going anywhere (and shouldn't).
Before being named Executive Pastry Chef, Esteban spent about a year working with Jack Fisher (now at Cucina Urbana) who he says played an important role in shaping him as a pastry chef. Esteban's passion and commitment to the craft is clear: after putting in 12-15 hours in the kitchen, he says as soon as he gets home, he wants to hit the books and research new ideas. Currently, he's finishing the concept for a dessert based around sweet potato ice cream, and coming up with truffle ideas for his chocolate company.
That relentless drive pays out two-fold as a diner: there are new items to try every four weeks or so, and his multi-dimensional plates are so elaborate that they nearly cause a sensory overload.
Take the brown butter cake as an example: not only is it unexpectedly awesome, but you also get pear sorbet and port ice cream with it, plus honey-roasted pecans, port glaze, brown butter powder, and some micro greens. It's tempting to jokingly refer to that kind of effort as masochistic (really, one frozen component would have been enough), but really, it's just 100 proof passion. You've got to try these desserts.
Take a look at the slideshow to see the complete fall dessert menu at Nine-Ten.