Swoon Dessert Bar just opened in San Diego and it was definitely the opening I was most anticipating after first reading about it on Eater.
First, I just adore the name. However, what really makes this place stand out are the weekend dessert flight tastings, where the desserts are plated by the chefs right in front of you. I marked the grand opening date on my calendar and immediately made my reservation for a few days later.
A la carte dessert options are available during the week, priced at a reasonable $6-7 range. On weekends, they offer a dessert flight starting at 6pm. The dessert flight menu changes each weekend. The tasting is only $16 per flight and can be split between two people (unlike most places which don’t allowing splitting and require everyone to order the same tasting).
There are individual tables as well as seating at the bar. I definitely recommend the dessert bar seating so you can watch the chefs in action and talk to them as well. We were lucky enough to get the best seats in the house, a spot at the end of the dessert bar where you can see everything happening.
DH and I opted to share one dessert flight, order one a la carte dessert, and some teas and coffees to wash down the sweets.
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DH got a kick out of the tiny little creamer holder. He made sure I included it in my photo. The coffees and teas were also accompanied by very sweet cookies that are perfect coffee dunkers.
Cara Cara Orange and Rosemary Sorbet/ White Chocolate Caviar/ Rosemary Shortbread
I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the orange and rosemary paired together, a combination that I didn’t think would work. The citrus notes awakened the tastebuds for our tasting.
croquembouche/ meyer lemon curd/ grains of paradise caramel
The little pastry chells were packed with a powerful lemon meyer curd. DH loves lemon flavored desserts so this really spoke to him. I enjoyed the thick caramel sauce on top.
Apple bread pudding/ star anise caramel/ granola
This was my favorite of the three courses. The star anise flavor was quite strong, but not overpowering. I loved that the pudding offered apples three ways: raw, cooked and compressed. The granola added a delightful crunch.
A La Carte Course
Cardamom tres leches/ cardamom ice cream/ graham crumb/ espresso sea salt
Since we wanted to explore as much of the menu as possible, we chose to add an a la carte course, though it wasn’t necessary as our dessert flight was more than enough. Regardless, we’re glad we got to try this. The layers are definitely meant to be eaten together, otherwise the cardamom is overpowering.
Serpent’s Stout Ice Cream/Walnuts/ Nougat/ Fudge
The stout ice cream retained much of the bitterness of the beer. The extremely sugary nougat and chocolate fudge added the sweetness needed to the dish as well as providing some interesting texture. It was an interesting plate, though not my favorite. I do wish that the finale ended on a more high note, but overall I was satisfied.
We loved our first experience here. I don’t know of any dessert bars in San Diego that offer dessert tastings and I was impressed with the caliber of the desserts offered here. They were carefully thought out, well executed, and consisted of a wide spectrum of flavors. The desserts are more sophisticated than your standard restaurant dessert offerings and remind me much of the desserts that are usually part of fancy restaurant tasting menus.
We loved the atmosphere, the service, the concept and the prices. Normally I like to wait a while to let a restaurant settle in and will tell readers the same, but in this case, I advise you to get in as quickly as possible before word spreads and this place gets too popular.
My advice would be to go on a weekend night after 6pm, share a dessert flight between two people, and make a reservation to get a good seat at the bar.
Swoon serves a la carte desserts Tuesday through Thursday (they are closed Monday). Friday through Sunday they offer dessert flights starting from 6pm. Check their Facebook page to see the latest updated menu and any changes to their schedule. They seemed to hesitate whether they will always offer dessert flights on Sundays but will definitely offer them Friday and Saturday.
Here are the tea and coffee menus:
Swoon Dessert Bar
3139 University Ave
San Diego, California 92104