Sugar Rush: Coconut Tapioca at Bertrand at Mister A's

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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

There are times in life when celebrating with a fancy meal with shockingly attentive service is entirely appropriate (landmark birthdays, anniversaries, and the like). For those occasions, Bertrand at Mister A's is there for you. But I'd argue that it's even more fun to sit on the patio and watch the planes go by on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon—just because.

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Even on a budget, you can do very well if you time your visit for happy hour (Sunday to Thursday, 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) or get the three course prix-fixe lunch ($20), which ends with a salted caramel and chocolate bar. I have no doubt it's delicious, but let me steer you towards the Coconut Tapioca ($9.50 at lunchtime, $11.50 at dinner) instead.

Plump tapioca pearls are suspended in a coconut milk pudding infused with lemongrass, lime zest, cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom. It's creamy, rich and almost completely safe, until you get to the tropical fruit and toasted coconut on top. The tender, dried pieces of rum-roasted pineapple, mango, kiwi berries, and passionfruit slip right into your spoon and brighten up each bite with their natural acidity.

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A vibrant fuchsia quenelle of dragon fruit sorbet surfing on a crisp pineapple chip makes the biggest visual statement, but flavor-wise, it's quite neutral and mostly serves as a palate refresher between bites of pudding.

The fact that this dessert is both gluten- and dairy-free is a double-bonus for anyone with a sweet tooth and a restricted diet, but it's also a plus if you've already polished off some of Mister A's ultra-indulgent Comté and black truffle mac and cheese (which, if you can handle dairy and gluten, is always a great idea).

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