Just a few years ago The Smith, who now have three monster-sized restaurants in New York, only offered ice cream sandwiches and sundaes for dessert. Now, according to my server at the Lincoln Center location, they have a dedicated pastry chef. It seems to have paid off as most of their dessert menu (PDF) looked interesting, but our group went with the Baked Alaska ($8).
I always order order the baked Alaska when I see it on the menu, which is a rare thing in New York (see also: DBGB). But it has so many interesting and varied components and in my experience, even when it's not done well, it's still pretty good. Because torched meringue is good with everything.
When the large, haystack-shaped dessert arrived at our table we immediately cut it down the middle with a steak knife. The cross section revealed the raspberry-sorbet-heavy innards surrounded with lemon sponge cake and a small amount of pistachio ice cream. There was also a thick jacket of of meringue insulating the whole thing.
Every component in this dessert was successful. The raspberry sorbet was flavorful, if a bit sweet, and the lemon sponge cake was moist but dense enough to hold things together. The classic French meringue was low in sweetness (the way I prefer it) and though I don't think it was torched to order, it was still slightly crispy on the edges. One of my dining companions also noted, while mopping up some meringue, that he really enjoyed the raspberry coulis, which was also nicely low in sugar.
Immediately after I sliced the cake in half the meringue starting to melt. But the group didn't seem to have any trouble heeding my advice to "hurry up and eat," and made quick work of the dessert before it melted away. Definitely a solid addition to any group meal at the Smith for eight bucks.
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