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Just Desserts

J. J. Rees | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Before this article on food and desserts in South Bend, I need to acknowledge that now (Tuesday night) is perhaps the worst time in my five years at Notre Dame to try to write an appetizing article. A case of swine flu was just confirmed at Notre Dame, and I can’t help but hear the buzzing from the low-flying plane with the abortion banner – with picture. That being said, there’s never been a better time to get off campus for a meal!In his 1973 film “Sleeper,” Woody Allen posited that cream pies and hot fudge will be known as the healthiest foods available 200 years in the future. Of course, it’s implausible in reality, but like all comedy, there may be some roots of truth in Allen’s prediction, considering the short history of dessert. After all, dessert as we know it only emerged about two hundred years ago.

Today around Notre Dame, it’s not uncommon to switch restaurants between dinner and dessert, and with good reason. It’s often preferable to have a big dinner and little dessert, or vice versa. And with so many options in the area, going out for dessert can be an excellent way to experience the town. For your convenience, I’ve selflessly visited five of the most popular dessert spots, presented here.

South Bend Chocolate CompanyLocated in the heart of downtown, South Bend Chocolate (SBCC) offers an assortment of foods, not limited to chocolate. The building is split into parts, with a gift shop, coffee shop area, bar, dessert station, and of course, chocolatier. Although the sandwiches and wraps have a good following with the downtown lunch crowd, the obvious strength is the chocolate desserts. The chocolate in the form of truffles, covered cherries, turtles, and the rest is reasonably phenomenal. All ingredients taste carefully prepared, like the fresh nuts and dark caramel.

The most popular dish is the cheesecake. The moderately sized slab is soft but thick, and drizzled with chocolate and caramel with two turtles on the side. The thick and flavorful caramel is an excellent segment to the delicious textures, accentuated by the nuts and chocolate crust, which was neither crumbly nor soggy. Well-prepared proportions and mixes are what rightfully maintain the company’s good name. Ritter’s Frozen CustardNot much can compete with a traditional ice cream stand on a hot day, besides frozen custard. Ice cream’s creamier cousin has found a good home in the seven-state chain Ritter’s. The nostalgic setup just north of Edison and Main serves new flavors every day. With shakes, malts and sundaes to boot, Ritter’s is something that should be at least sampled. Paleteria y Neveria La RositaAbout ten minutes southwest of campus, La Rosita has certainly carved out a niche. This Mexican eatery serves desserts from homemade fruit bars to unique ice creams and sundaes. Besides the friendly staff (and patrons), the best part of La Rosita is the deals – the two dishes we had (lime fruit bar and one scoop of ice cream) were both just a dollar. The fruit bar coupled with the bright room could be very refreshing on a hot day. The homemade butter pecan was tasty, but my best choice was trying the ice cream with the flavor of mamey, a tropical fruit you won’t find around Indiana. This is a worthwhile place for anyone wanting to practice their Spanish or just cool off on a hot day.

Indulgence Pastry Shop & CaféThis young, fresh eatery is one of the closest to campus, just a few minutes east on Edison. The café is certainly worth a visit, if not just for the desserts, then for the likable offerings and quaint and cozy setup. Offering breakfast, salads, sandwiches, soups, coffee, and Hershey’s ice cream doesn’t let Indulgence shy away from the elegant desserts, such as the popular chocolate dome, which is well presented with mixing tastes, textures and consistencies. The welcoming atmosphere with ample seating is perfect for days of studying and snacking.

Yesterday’s Food-Spirits & MerrimentWithout much question, the sultan of sweets in South Bend is Yesterday’s, on Adams in Granger. The try of massive desserts trumps the already-large dinner selection. There’s no mistaking the restaurant’s style, with wall-to-wall decorations and Mickey Mouse chinaware. Yesterday’s is certainly an experience to be had. The most popular dish, besides the thick whipped cream, is the no-bake peanut butter pie, which has a graham cracker crust and creamy filling that is a must for any peanut butter fan. Other favorites are the cheesecakes, like the soft turtle cheesecake with butter brickle sauce, and the pies, like the Bourbon Street pecan pie with cinnamon and chocolate chips or the tart and sweet key lime pie.

With so many places offering fantastic after dinner fare in South Bend, there are plenty of reasons to extend a meal out. Wherever your dinner takes you, keep in mind that there’s always room for dessert.