Best Summertime Desserts In Chicago

July 10, 2013 7:00 AM

Bread pudding with whiskey sauce and crème brulee checking in at 500 calories might hit the spot in the dead of winter, but your summer palate yearns for lighter, refreshing bursts of sugar in warmer temperatures. Not to mention that you can’t hide the effects of one too many chocolate lava cakes under a puffy parka. Snag a table at any of these Chicago spots where you can say, “Sure, I’ll see the dessert menu,” without a hint of remorse.

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Roka Akor

456 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 477-7652

Whether opting for sushi and sashimi or a prime New York strip loin with truffle aioli, Roka Akor’s pastry chef, Jesse Divine, senses you might not want to follow up with a slab of peanut butter pie. “I love to make homemade ice creams and sorbets, especially during the summer months with the many fresh fruit flavors available,” he notes. Exhibit A is Divine’s melon shiso sorbet soup, made to order in-house daily. The chilled melon shiso soup is poured tableside over fresh melon balls and a Mandarin-shochu ice milk. It is accompanied by yuzu shortbread, yuzu granite and orange curd. Dine al fresco lolling in comfy weaved lounge seats on the outdoor patio and watch others melt in the heat while slurping on your icy fruit soup.

 Best Summertime Desserts In Chicago

Brindille oeufs ala neige (Courtesy of Brindille)

534 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 595-1616

French for branch, Brindille is just that – Carrie Nahabedian’s (NAHA) new, refined offshoot. Endorphins multiply at the first bite of pastry chef Craig Harzewski’s beautiful oeufs ala neige which features the bounty of Chicago’s Green City Market. “This dish is composed of a very light meringue, creme anglaise scented with elderflower liqueur and a ‘salad’ of berries, gooseberries, apricots, candied citrus and lemon balm,” explains the chef. “It is the perfect dessert on a warm summer night while dining on a patio.” Add French linens, fine china, foie gras and Parisian cocktails and you have the makings of a dreamy François Truffaut film.

 Best Summertime Desserts In Chicago

Cafe des Architectes’ rhubarb and raspberry vacherin (Courtesy of Cafe des Architectes)

Cafe des Architectes
20 E. Chestnut St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 324-4063

Pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky of Cafe des Architectes has created a roster of summery desserts not the least of which is an inspired rhubarb and raspberry vacherin with Greek yogurt cream, Port wine reduction and raspberry cotton candy. “A vacherin is traditionally a French dessert that is meringue filled with whipped cream and fruit and it usually has cake and ice cream/sorbet,” she explains. “My spin on it uses Greek yogurt and Port. It’s still really light and refreshing, and the cotton candy adds a fun nostalgia twist.”

Related: Best Places In Chicago For Chocolate Chip Desserts

Baume & Brix
351 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 321-0351

Executive chef Ben Roche puts as much heart in the restaurant’s sweets as savories. He bases a fun summer dessert on a traditional pavlova – classically, it’s a crunchy meringue topped with fresh fruit and covered in whipped cream. “Our version will consist of crispy lime meringue, fresh strawberries, aromatic spice jelly, sugared cucumber slices, cucumber-lime sorbet, Greek yogurt and topped with elderflower foam instead of heavy cream,” he says. “There couldn’t be a better summer dessert than that.”

Jellyfish Chicago
1009 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 660-3111

It may be a little hard to find Jellyfish, which is located a floor above Rush Street boutiques, but that may be the point. Escape from the crowded sidewalks below and the moist minions and tuck into strawberry panna cotta with basil gelee, palm fruit strawberry salsa and Macadamia crumble. “The panna cotta is a simple summer dessert Jason (executive chef) and I wanted to do celebrating some of the flavors of summer,” beams chef Tyler Hayes. “The Nichols Farm organic basil is highlighted twice in this dessert with the basil gelee and also some baby basil to go with a fresh strawberry relish that has been tossed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.” The panna cotta is made with fresh local strawberries and buttermilk and lemon curd adds a hint of acidity and richness.

Related: Best Cherry Dishes In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at

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