“Did you save room for dessert?”
When a restaurant server asks this question to a table of guests, I’m pretty sure the answers fall into one of these categories: an exuberant “yes,” an “I’d-love-to-but-I’m-full” response, a hesitant “no” from a reluctant dieter, or an unspoken look between the guests that says, “I’ll have one, if you’ll have one too.”
In my family, there’s no doubt that we appreciate decadent sweets — especially if they include dark chocolate or crème brûlée — but we usually take the “one-dessert, four-forks” approach.
Whether you prefer ending your meal with a sugar rush or a tiny taste, you can find beautiful desserts throughout the Greater Akron area. We chose four for you to sample today. Enjoy!
Mason Jar Desserts The Wine Mill, Peninsula
When owners and managing partners Patrick Cunningham and Stephen McClellan opened The Wine Mill on Nov. 20, they wanted their menu to match the rustic décor of this renovated 1846 structure.
McClellan creates strawberry shortcake, pecan ball ice cream sundaes and chocolate trifle, and he serves them in vintage Mason jars he’s collected over the years from antique shops.
“Everything here is served on wooden boards, slates or Mason jars,” McClellan says. “We have several of the blue antique Mason jars, and people love them because it brings back memories of their grandmother.”
The owners use fresh, local ingredients in their skillet dips, Mason jar salads, sliders, cheese boards, antipasto slates and desserts, and they partner with a California winery to carry private-label wines. The Wine Mill also serves locally-brewed craft beers and Ohio-distilled liquor.
The former Tamsin Park gift shop, with a water wheel that still works, is set on five acres, which the owners plan to landscape and use for guest seating in milder weather.
Fruit Sushi Twiisted Sushi Grill and Bar, Medina
Even if you’re not a fan of traditional sushi, you’ll probably enjoy the Fruit Sushi at Twiisted Sushi Grill and Bar.
Head sushi chef Jason Neiswanger makes this unique treat using cream cheese and fresh kiwi, strawberries and oranges, rolled in a soy wrapper and drizzled with a berry sauce and a caramel sauce.
Twiisted’s guests have named this dessert as a longtime favorite. The restaurant also serves a fried sweet potato-brown sugar roll and an apple pie roll with a touch of cinnamon.
Neiswanger, who has worked at the restaurant for a year, says one of the things he loves about his job is the creative freedom.
“We get an idea and try it out at the sushi bar, and if it’s a hit, we roll with it,” he says.
The Tower Carrot Cake Timber Lodge, Medina
You know a restaurant’s carrot cake is good when customers call for reservations AND to make sure the cake is available.
Timber Lodge in Medina offers a dense, four-layer Tower Carrot Cake, which has — as general manager Ron Levitt calls it — “wow factor.” The cake, which has been the restaurant’s signature dessert for more than 10 years, is decorated with frosting and chopped walnuts, and he says one slice can easily feed four or five people.
Made locally for the restaurant, Levitt says although it contains carrots, guests shouldn’t confuse it with a low-calorie dessert. “Honestly, it is far from healthy, just decadent,” he says. “When you want to treat yourself to something great, you go out to eat. You get a good steak and a good baked potato. This carrot cake follows suit.”
Cheesecake Tasting Wise Guys Lounge and Grill, Akron
In the kitchen of Wise Guys Lounge and Grill, chef Patrick Amato and sous chef Ashley Lawrence plan the week’s menu, including the restaurant’s house-made cheesecakes.
Cheesecake is a staple on many restaurant menus but Amato’s version is unique. Guests sample five different cheesecakes that are cut into cubes and cylinders and presented on a platter with accompanying sauces or garnishes.
In addition to New York-style cheesecake and chocolate cheesecake which are always on the menu, the other cheesecake flavors vary from week to week.
“We’ve made a pumpkin cheesecake. We look at fruit, nuts, whatever looks good at the market,” says Amato. “By cutting the cheesecake into shapes, it gives us a little more room to be creative. Plus, they plate a lot better.”
Amato says guests at Wise Guys often dine in groups so the restaurant’s cheesecake tasting provides a dessert that’s “more sharable and more fun.”