First published on 7 Jul 2009. Updated on 12 Apr 2011.
Christine Manfield's desserts have always been a highlight of her restaurants and the ones at Universal are no exception. Like the rest of her menu, texture and incredibly flavour-packed ingredients rule. Take the ginger tapioca cream with star anise pineapple and caramel ice cream - a bit retro, a bit Thai, and a bit tiki, it's a flavour punch of anise-injected pineapple with the slight chew and pervy texture of the tapioca pearls captured in a spiced cream topped with amazing caramel ice cream. A few classics appear on the menu from time to time such as the ‘Gaytime' - a fun homage to that vintage Streets ice block that is a pyramid of hazelnut chocolate, caramel and honeycomb ice-cream madness. (Don't bet on it being there on your visit - the menu changes regularly.) Manfield's sense of play when it comes to naming her desserts is part of the fun of eating them. There's the mandarin cream and lemon curd arrangement that is the ‘Miss Muffet' and the choco-fest (chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, PX jelly, candied cumquats) otherwise known as ‘Black Beauty'. And we'd kill for another hit at the Raspberry Ripple.
Katrina Kanetani's desserts are reason enough to go to Pier. Her light, deft touch combined with left-of centre technique means that while she uses the odd soil or sphere, they're only ever to enhance rather than dominate.
Quay, The Rocks
Chef Peter Gilmore hand churns his own ice cream. His granitas are as fine as fresh snow. His flavours are fresh, vibrant and interesting and everything he does is delicious.
Longrain, Surry Hills
Longrain celebrates its ten year anniversary this year. And the desserts are as gob smacking as ever. The coconut and caramel custard is so crazily rich three spoons is enough.
Rockpool, The Rocks
The original date tart circa 1984 is still on the menu, joined by new desserts such as the Amedei filled pain perdu with banana ice cream. Fried chocolatey goodness.