Pear Buckle at Lux Central
Primarily known as a coffee shop -- and a pretty good one, at that -- Lux Central also dishes up food for every moment of the day. Want quiche for breakfast? Lux has that. Mac n' cheese for lunch? That too. A fresh baked cookie to go with your afternoon tea? Yep, several varieties. A steak for dinner followed by a fancy dessert? You betcha.
Dominique Chatterjee Pear buckle with coffee-flavored whipped cream
Anyone who's stopped by Lux for coffee has probably also walked away with a scone or muffin, and it's safe to say that the standards for baked goods there are quite high. Their versions of the pastries typically found in cafés are always fresh and flavorful. While it's not one of my go-to coffee shops in town for an indulgent breakfast pastry (those would be Giant Coffee and Urban Beans), I've always felt like the money I spent at Lux was worth what I got in return.
Dessert at Lux, like the other menu items, rotates daily. Unlike the dinner specials, it's not posted online, and it's not even on the printed menu. But ask your server what's on offer, and you'll get two or three options, usually varieties of cake, such as pear buckle cake. A dry, dense cake, buckles always incorporate seasonal fruit to add moisture and flavor. Pear is an excellent choice for this time of year, and this one is presented beautifully with a thin sliver of fruit on top.
However, that was the only fruit, and while the cake itself was rich with almonds and had a good crumb, it needed fruit in every bite to complete the flavor profile. At least there was a generous helping of coffee-flavored whipped cream on the side, a nice way to balance the softer flavors in the cake. The whipped cream also added a touch of hazelnut, lending a little more depth to the otherwise plain cake.
This was a delicious dessert, its only drawback being the lack of fruit. With a few more pears layered in, it would be an instant winter classic, perfect to pair with hot buttered rum or spiced apple cider. It also tasted reasonably healthy, and it's always a plus when the kitchen knows when to hold back on the fat and sugar. (Nobody likes greasy or sickeningly sweet pastries.) That said, the mound of whipped cream that the cake needed to not be drab cancelled out any possible healthful qualities of the pear buckle. Oh well, it was totally worth it.