The only thing literal about Will Goldfarb’s confectionary anti-bar is the name. But as any kid can tell you, the best way to save “Room 4 Dessert” is to skip dinner. My girlfriend and I took this advice recently to drown the end-of-summer blues in three courses of avant-garde sugar bliss.
The largely unadorned 30-foot sliver of a space focuses diners’ attentions on the chef’s intricate presentations — just your friendly neighborhood performance artist pastry chef. Bubbly red Lambrusco wine ($9) and milky white Nigori sake ($12) were fitting palate adjusters, preparing us for the alchemy of our first course, presented in cocktail glasses: My Virtuality began with a bed of icy compressed watermelon, cloaked in a biting lime foam and a dollop of honey ice cream, all dusted with almond praline crumbles. My girlfriend likewise relished her Geisha, black sesame gelato draped in coconut gel topped by a tingly carbonated raspberry mousse. ($10.50 each)
For my “main” course, I ordered the Chocolate Tasting ($12). The long row of amuse-sized preparations showcased the chocolate’s bittersweet decadence. There was chocolate foam, chocolate parfait, and chocolate soaked cake. Too much chocolate, but the final preparation made it all worthwhile: Pedro Ximenez panna cotta, created with an unnatural gelling agent giving the impression of — and I have never said this before in a positive way — snot. Yes, chunky warm snot, heartily flavored with sherry, dusted with dissolving chocolate grit. Revolting yet enthralling. She chose the Scotch Plains, an inventive assortment of cherry gelee, amaretti, Scottish biscuit, and a standout dish of mascarpone graced with perfect cubes of fennel confit, just like mom used to make.
We ended our meal with an assortment of savory Petit Fours ($10.50). After slurping down dense green curry foam extruded from a seltzer bottle, we relished a tart palate-cleansing glass of green tomato gel that tasted like a summer tomato ripe enough to eat out of hand. Our favorite was a pancetta financier, whose sweet springy interior was heightened by the salty pork. However, our final dish of miso honey ganache was completely out of place — it was merely a great truffle.
With a lesser chef this menu would be severely unpleasant. But for Will Goldfarb, a culinary alchemist who works the room as well as his chemistry set, it’s a reawakening of dessert, enlivening it with new sensations and old memories, the pain and joy of childhood discovery. Revolting yet enthralling.