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Thursday, September 30, 2010

DeLise Dessert Cafe: Tiny Treats and Giant Ice Cream Scoops

Posted By on Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 4:37 PM

click to enlarge The ice cream case at DeLise. - DELISE
  • DeLise
  • The ice cream case at DeLise.
For space reasons, the paragraph I wrote about Dennis and Eloise Leung's DeLise Dessert Cafe disappeared from this week's roundup of micropatisseries. The couple, former pastry chefs at Bong Su, opened a small cafe on Bay Street after the birth of their son, Gabriel. The two don't just believe in working out a small space, they make tiny desserts, too. Their cookies are the size of ping-pong balls, their cupcakes disappear in two bites, and their bars ― I particularly loved the butterscotch blondie and the fudge brownies ― were easily a third the size of the other bakeries' bars I tasted. Almost everything on the menu costs less than $2. Over e-mail, I asked them about why they chose to work in such a small scale. The Leungs wrote back:

  • DeLise
From past experiences at high-end restaurants/hotels, we love things miniature. We believe that desserts are meant to complement a meal, and they should not be huge. Since our treats are small, our customers can try more varieties without consuming too many calories. ...

We also use high quality and healthy ingredients (whole wheat flour, organic ice cream, etc.) to maximize nutritional value. The small portion sizes allow us to keep the price low, so anyone can indulge in luxury as often as they want.
The Leungs change the lineup of sweets frequently ― I kept walking into the bakery and finding half the pastries different from the week before ― and they do the same with their ice creams, all made with a base from Straus. They're playing hard with flavors, without verging into Humphry Slocombe strangeness ― purple ube (yam) with a subtle earthiness, a brawny dark-chocolate mocha (made with Four Barrel coffee), a lychee ice cream whose rose-like flavor is enhanced with actual rosewater. The most intriguing ice cream I tried: mooncake ice cream, made in honor of the Moon Festival, with the caramel-nutty flavor of lotus-root paste and speckled through with bits of pastry crust and salted egg yolk. Where the desserts are tiny, the ice cream is generously portioned ― three cueball-sized scoops cost $4.50. That'd be a deal at Baskin-Robbins, and much, much tastier.

DeLise Dessert Cafe:
327 Bay (at Mason), 399-9694. Closed Mondays.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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