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iowamom Mar 28th, 2011 12:52 PM

Looking for a Dessert Bar, like Finale (Boston), in Chicago
DH went to Finale in Boston a few weeks ago WITHOUT me and we are off to Chicago in a few weeks to celebrate my 40th (gasp) birthday. Is there a dessert bar similar to Finale in Chicago that anyone can recommend?

socialworker Mar 28th, 2011 04:09 PM

That is one of my DS's all-time favorite places!!

I am assuming that you are not referring to the pastry counter at the entrance, but rather the actual sit-down restaurant part of the place when you say "dessert bar"? For those who may not be familiar with Finale, they may not realize that you are not talking about a pastry/bakery spot, but a dessert destination restaurant.

I would hate for you to get misled for such an important occasion :) Happy Birthday!!

One last bit of (unsolicited) counsel...when you say 40th (gasp), it makes me remember my 40th when I ran into an older friend at the library on the actual day. I said I was turning 40 that day and added your gasp to my statement. She looked at me, (and perhaps b/c she is a truly kind person, these words were not mean and I have reflected on them many times) and said, "Forty is nothing!"

As I said, she is kind and there was no malice in her words and she was so right! Forty is so young. Enjoy it to the hilt.

iowamom Mar 28th, 2011 04:36 PM

I am actually totally fine with 40!

I have never been there so I don't know between the pastry counter and the restaurant part - but I believe it was the restaurant part. He sent me a photo of whatever dessert he was having - what a meanie! He did promise the next time we go to Boston he would take me there, but I was hoping for a visit to a similar place in Chicago.

hawksbill Mar 28th, 2011 06:47 PM

Happy fortieth! I survived mine too, and I'm still enjoying my travels (especially dessert). If it's any consolation, I've been to one of Finale's locations, and I thought that, although the portions were large, the food wasn't very good. Although I do love the idea of a dessert-only restaurant.

I don't live in Chicago, but I do make it a point to survey its restaurants carefully whenever I'm there. Your preferences may differ from mine, but as a dedicated foodie, if I were you, I might try to convince my husband to make up for his solo trip to Finale by treating me to the three-course dessert collection at Tru ($65 for two people!). Unlike Finale, which is casual, Tru is an upscale restaurant, centrally located in Chicago. Jackets are required in the main dining room, and I'd probably wear one in the lounge too, even if it's not strictly required. Tru used to be one of my favorite places. Chef Rick Tramanto is gone now, but pastry chef Gale Gand is still there, and she was still doing excellent work when last I checked. You may have seen her on TV. Here's her web site:

Although you have to buy a full dinner in the main dining room at Tru, you can have dessert alone in the lounge, which is also lovely. Here's the menu:

socialworker Mar 29th, 2011 07:30 AM

Glad to hear that your gasp was metaphorical!! :)

I would have to add that there are several Finales (three, that I know of) in Boston, but I have only been to the Harvard Square locale on many occasions.

I would not exactly characterize it as casual.....True, it is not a 5 star restaurant but the room is tastefully appointed and the banquettes are upholstered in dark red velvet, if memory serves--have not been there for a year or so.

What I mean to say is that going there feels like a bit of an occasion and most definitely not just a stop at a shop that serves pastry.

I am surprised that the concept has not caught on analogously in other cities, but DS who lives in a foodie mecca--Los Angeles---still lobbies to go to Finale on his visits home.

gardendiva Mar 29th, 2011 09:11 AM

I don't know of any place in Chicago that would replicate Finale but I did find a really good pastry shop at the foot of the Hancock building, near the Cheesecake Factory. I do not remember the name though. It was the first time I had a pastry that really tasted good as oppose to just looking good. Perhaps the lounge at the top of the Hancock building may serve desserts and you can still hold him to a visit to Finale when you get to Boston.

With America's weight/carb craze, I can see why there is not a Finale in every city. What really has me baffled now is the cupcake craze. Again it would be different if they tasted good but I have yet to have one that tasted better than a Hostess (which are horrible).

hawksbill Mar 29th, 2011 12:48 PM

There are dessert restaurants in other cities too. For example, here are two notable ones in New York:

I guess the question about identifying a place like Finale kind of boils down to this: there are many cafes in many cities where one can sit down and order dessert served at a table, so at what point does it become something different, really a dessert-only restaurant rather than just a cafe with tables? I mean, would Veniero's in New York or the Ghirardelli ice cream shop in Chicago qualify as a place like Finale? To me, they do not, but I'm not exactly sure where the line is drawn.

There are also places in another category, sit-down restaurants that specialize in dessert, but also offer savory courses, like for example Mindy's Hot Chocolate and Dessert Bar:

sf7307 Mar 29th, 2011 01:02 PM

Dessert is apparently much less in demand in san francisco than other cities, but there is Candybar (I've not been, so can't comment on where it falls in the spectrum of dessert bars).

iowamom Mar 29th, 2011 05:12 PM

Thanks - we'll be in NYC in June. But what about Chicago???

lincasanova Mar 29th, 2011 11:37 PM

just found this on google for CHICAGO

might have to try it on my next trip.

For what it's worth, last month I had an amazing lemon pannecota at The Purple Pig on Michigan Avenue.

lincasanova Mar 29th, 2011 11:39 PM

Forgot to add, you also have the Kendall College Culinary Academy that will have impressive desserts..

5OHS Apr 1st, 2011 02:49 PM

I second the recommendation for HOT CHOCOLATE! Check out the menu -- great spot! We go for brunch. No reservations except for "big, private" table in back. Worth the wait.

Gina817 Apr 1st, 2011 06:35 PM

Another vote for Hot Chocolate. It is wonderful. It is also not downtown, which will allow you to see and experience a Chicago neighborhood, as opposed to sticking to just touristy areas.

We tend to have more bakeries than dessert bars. One of the most popular bakeries here is Sweet Mandy B's in Lincoln Park. Molly's Cupcakes in Lincoln Park is also very popular.

If you want to stick downtown, there is the chocolate buffet at the Pennisula which is a fun time too. Have a great trip!

andrews98682 Apr 10th, 2011 06:40 PM

I'll put in a plug for Bittersweet on Belmont near the red and brown line stop, although it's a European-style bakery (they do have a few sandwiches, soups and salads) with tables and not really a restaurant.

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