Appetisers are ok, I s'pose. Entrées are pretty cool. We're all quite partial to a little amuse-bouche, and things are really hotting up by main course.
But we all know what we're really waiting for, am I right? A little sumthin' sumthin', a sweet treat to send our tastebuds tumbling over the pleasure abyss. For many of us, dessert is not a mere afterthought, but the lead role in any dining experience.
MEYER LEMON TART | ALBERT ST FOOD & WINE
No dessert round up would be complete without this sumptuous citrus delight. Dessert maestro (maestress?), Philippa Sibley, has done it again with her simple, downright delicious Meyer Lemon Tart. The biscuit base and silken topping make for a blissful end to any meal.
Verdict: Velvety smooth and creamy texture, and the perfect ratio of tang to sweet.
Albert St Food & Wine | Corner Albert Street & 382 Sydney Road in Brunswick
MERINGUE CLOUDS | BURCH & PURCHESE
Basically, if we had only one wish from a genie, it'd be that we could gorge ourselves on B&P goodies all day, every day, and not put on an ounce. The white chocolate and salted caramel choc pops are eye-rollingly delicious, and the ice cream is downright orgasmic. To be honest, anything made by Darren Purchese deserves a spot on this list.
But if we had to choose our fave, it would be the meringue clouds. To my ears, there are no sweeter words in the English language. Meringue. Clouds.
These sugar-spun sweeties are super generous in size, chewy and crumbly in all the right places, and chock-full of your freeze-dried fruit of choice (passionfruit, strawberry, blackberry, mango).
Verdict: Like unicorns wrapped in rainbows with kittens on top.
Burch & Purchese | 647 Chapel Street in South Yarra
WHOOPIE MAC | MEATBALL & WINE BAR
Once those silky meatball sliders have sated your salt craving, it's only fair that the sugar fiend within also gets fed. Enter the whimsically named Whoopie Mac. A hunk-a-chunk of homemade ice cream, wedged between cookies – what's not to like?!
If someone suggests sharing, you have my permission to give them your most outraged face. I sure did. The cookie and ice cream offerings change, but you can't go wrong with the traditional chocolate cookieand vanilla ice cream combo. Gingerbread cookie with caramel ice cream is also a lady slayer.
Verdict: Well whoopie-di do! Not, but seriously, these are the business.
Meatball & Wine Bar | 135 Flinders Lane in Melbourne & 105 Swan Street in Richmond
TIRAMISU | ROSETTA
We reckon it would raise a few eyebrows and cause some wild gesticulations if we left this Italian classic off our list! But we'd never ever, ever do that, as this Tiramisu is one booze-soaked bombshell we'd invite to any dinner party.
What starts off as a series of simple ingredients – luscious Savoiardi biscuits, mascarpone cheese, and syrupy coffee liqueur – combine to create the ultimate dessert experience. Pace yourself when eating this, as you'll want it to never end.
Verdict: Dark, rich, and devilishly delicious, the Tiramisu is simply irresistible.
Rosetta | Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street in Southbank
LOUKOMATHES | GAZI
According to our resident expert, Miss Kotsimbos, this Greek treat is out of this world. At Calombaris' Gazi, the Greek donuts are served oozing with nutella, honey and hazelnuts. Yep, we're drooling at the thought of it too.
Perfectly crisp on the outside yet super soft on the inside, these doughnut balls are not only the perfect end to your night at Gazi, but also up there with one of the best Greek inventions ever (we're tempted to push it to the top…) George Calombaris, you've done it again!
Verdict: Oh my giddy aunt, these donuts make us go-nuts!
Gazi | 2 Exhibition Street in Melbourne
ZONUTS | ADRIANO ZUMBO PATISSIER
We were beside ourselves when we learnt the zonut king was heading south of the border! "We'll eat them every day!" we cried. Alas, we haven't, for as Cookie Monster says, these are a 'sometimes' food and we are sometimes more sensible than we seem. For the uninitiated (surely there are none of you left??!!), the zonut is a croissant-donut hybrid. Need we say more? Follow Adriano Zumbo on social media to find out which flavours are on offer, as they rotate regularly.
Verdict: We'd say the zonut is the best invention since sliced bread, but we happen to think it's even better.
Adriano Zumbo Patissier | 14 Claremont Street in South Yarra
PROFITEROLES | CUMULUS UP
Sure, we come here for the wine and intimate atmos', but that doesn't mean we're missing out on dessert, dammit! Luckily, the mighty McConnell has again weaved his magic with the winning combination of plump profiteroles served with vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Oh, how we love the sensory delight of warm chocolate and cold ice cream! The perfect end to a wine and whine session with your besties.
Verdict: It's up there. Groan.
Cumulus Up | Upstairs (above Cumulus Inc.), 45 Flinders Lane in Melbourne
FOREST FLOOR | BROOKS OF MELBOURNE
Admittedly, it sounds kinda gross. But in Brooks' hands, even a dessert that contains porcine products is a revelation. Chocolate and hazelnut parfait, pork crackling, mint and sorrel granita – not your standard at-home pud, but a triumph of taste, texture and aesthetics.
Verdict: Almost too pretty to eat. I said, almost!
Brooks of Melbourne | Basement, 115-117 Collins Street in Melbourne (Enter via George Parade)
CHEESECAKE | BROOKS OF MELBOURNE
Brooks strikes again with this little beauty – it takes ye olde cheesecake and flips it on its head with the inclusion of licorice ice cream (Have you tried it? Oh. My. Goodness.), juicy berries and a rose petal shell. The balance of flavours is simply exquisite and it's as pretty as a gosh darn picture.
Verdict: Lay me down on a bed of roses.
Brooks of Melbourne | Basement, 115-177 Collins Street in Melbourne (Enter via George Parade)
PALM SUGAR ICE CREAM SUNDAE | CHIN CHIN
Strap on your insulin pump, sugars, 'cause this is one sundae session so sweet it'll make your teeth ache. If you have any room left after the standard Chin Chin gluttony, order this. If not, still order this. Served with salted honeycomb and lime syrup, the palm sugar ice cream sundae is the perfect mix of texture – crunchy honeycomb and smooth ice cream – and flavours – super sweet palm sugar ice cream and tangalicious lime.
Verdict: Honey(comb), I'm home!
Chin Chin | 125 Flinders Lane in Melbourne
CHOCOLATE BEETROOT CAKE | VEGIE BAR
The dessert cabinet at this leaf eaters' hangout is pretty epic, with a bunch of sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan (and yes, that means dairy free for idiots like me) options that are downright delicious. Our pick of the bunch is the choc-beet cake. Yes, that would be beetroot, and yes you may unwittingly absorb some vitamins, but don't be afraid! The addition of beetroot makes this super dense and moist, adding a fun fudgy element to the proceedings. Not super sweet or ridiculously rich, we think two pieces would be a-ok.
Verdict: Beet you to it!
Vegie Bar | 380 Brunswick Street in Fitzroy
APPLE CRUMBLE | CITY WINE SHOP
Everyone loves a good crumble, and this one is my personal fave. The perfect ratio of golden crumble to warm, tender spiced apple with a little side dish of vanilla bean ice cream and a dinky bottle of pouring custard. Crumble is an oldie but a goodie, and the perfect end to any evening in my books. This seasonal favourite unfortunately isn't available all year 'round at the City Wine Shop. If it was, I'd order it every time.
Verdict: The apple of my eye.
City Wine Shop | 1599 Spring Street in Melbourne
PEANUT BUTTER PARFAIT, SALTED CARAMEL & SOFT CHOCOLATE | SUPERNORMAL
Ok, peeps, we've saved the best for last. Peanut butter and caramel are quite simply a match made in heaven. I dare you to disagree. Unless, of course, you're allergic to nuts, then fair play to you. "A textural sensation," declares Jess. "So much peanut butter, so damn good!" exclaims Iro. Make tracks to the CBD quick smart and drool over this parfait slice of peanut goodness, best enjoyed in and around your mouth.
Verdict: Fields of dreams.
Supernormal | 180 Flinders Lane in Melbourne
Main Image Credit: Ember.