The weekly Friday night buffet at the Yale Club has always been one of my favorite things to do with my dad. Obviously there is the special father-daughter bonding, but despite evidence to the contrary (evidence= steam tables) the food is pretty awesome too. Even as a child I'd attack the ice-lined tray of oysters, shrimp, and stone crab claws like a deep-sea hoover and eat all the popovers from the bread basket. I'd elbow alway old men in crisply pleated high waisted pants as they quietly asked each other if they'd ever heard of this quinoa business, all while blocking the way to the chocolate-covered strawberries.
A staple in the dessert corner was bread pudding. It was a constant delight for both me and the elder members, because we all enjoy the texture of things you can eat without teeth. Still, there is fine bread pudding (I mean it's difficult to mess up the flavors of bread, heavy cream, and sugar) and great bread pudding. I recently had a dish that was the latter.
It was the Hazelnut Crumb Brioche Bread Pudding ($6.50) from Tout Sweet in Union Square. The main portion is a vanilla bean and Ceylon cinnamon custard. This is an elegant bread pudding, versus the more rustic puddings where you can still see the chunks of bread. The bread and filling have molded into one uniform texture, making it pleasingly dense and smooth. The custard is tinged with vanilla flavor and distinctly eggy, shot through with ribbons of sweet caramel.
The sea salt and hazelnut crumb adds crunch and quite a potent hit of salt—which given the richness of the dish, I appreciate. The top also gets a drizzle of caramel, and the bites with salty crumb, gooey caramel, and eggy bottom are the most rewarding. It is an indulgent treat, so I'd recommend eating it now, while tis the season.