With a new artisanal doughnut shop downtown and the opening of Swoon, a dessert bar in North Park, the sweet life in San Diego has never been better. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Swoon features a 3-course dessert flight, showcasing seasonal ingredients that are expertly spun into elegant and imaginative sweets.
Co-owner David Lamm teamed up with friend Ian Smith and sous chef Evan Shaffer to pull off the inventive concept, where diners can sit at a bar in front of the exhibition-style kitchen and watch each course get prepared and plated. The flights change weekly and have included everything from blood orange panna cotta to matcha gelato. I stopped by for the strawberry flight ($16 for three courses, plus an amuse bouche). The tasting started with a strawberry frozen yogurt with two crunchy carrot elements, and finished with an elevated take on PB&J, topped with maple syrup infused with grains of paradise. Click through the slide-show for a closer look at each course.
Dessert flights are available Friday and Saturday evenings, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The menu is typically announced a few days in advance on Swoon's Facebook page. If you're there outside of those hours, try one of the a la carte desserts. Like the flights, the menu changes weekly. I struck gold with this carrot cake ($7) with cardamon-carrot ganache, carrot chips, carrot crumbs, and a genius touch: cream cheese panna cotta standing in for the frosting, which Ian says he doesn't like. The substitution makes the cake a touch less sweet, and the contrast between the moist cake and silky panna cotta is a refreshing change. Twelve more slices, please.
Another must-try anytime of the day are the chocolate chip cookies, pre-packed in paper bags by the register. They're crisp and buttery, with a strong undertone of molasses (and also happen to be gluten-free). You can also pick up a pair at nearby Carnitas' Snack Shack (check the menu for updates).
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax