When you finish your meal at General Assembly, the new restaurant in Gramercy from the people behind Quality Meats, you'll immediately be shown a shiny tray of meticulously made eclairs ($6.50 each). It's an update of sorts to the old school dessert cart that many restaurants used to employ, which is how you could describe the eclairs themselves: refreshing takes on a classic, somewhat staid French dessert.
The Key Lime Meringue may be the best of the three varieties I tried. The crunchy pâte a choux cylinder is filled with a lip-puckeringly tart lime filling that's more of a curd than a traditional pastry cream. On top is a green glaze topped with a delicately piped line of Italian meringue delivers the full key lime pie experience and cuts some of the sweetness of the filling. Pastry chef Cory Colton replaces the simple fondant glaze that adorns a standard eclair with a ganache version like you see on glossy entremet cakes in fancy pastry shops.
Chocolate and peanut butter lovers may want to consider the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Eclair. The tiny chocolate spheres on top give it a whimsical appearance, but it's made from the decidedly serious high end Valrhona 66% Carribe chocolate filling. Peanut butter comes in the glaze on top, pairing especially well with the chocolate.
For a fancier dessert, get the Apple Tatin Crème Brûlée, a thick custard topped with baked apples that are coated in sugar and torched to form the dessert's crust.
About the author: Native New Yorker Niko Triantafillou is the founder of DessertBuzz.com his photographs of desserts and pastry chefs have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Dessert Professional Magazine. He is an unabashed foodie nerdling. Follow him on Twitter at @DessertBuzz.