Forked path Solving readers’ dining-out dilemmas

Andrea Upchurch, pastry chef for Hospitality Management Group, made this Manchester tart for the 2015 BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s Opening Gala.

Q: Where do you send people who just want dessert?

A: When I was growing up, going out for a shared slice of pie or cake was always called “coffee and.” I always thought the term was peculiar to our family, until I came across a circa 1960s cookbook for surburbanites that devoted an entire chapter to the “coffee and” trend.

So you could make like the cookbook author and bake a bundt cake at home (and then I could start sending people to you). But I suspect what you have in mind is a sliver of evening elegance, pursued after a meeting, play or some other non-dining event. For that reason, I’m ruling out here the area’s many capable bakeries, such as Gala Desserts in Avondale, and counter-service ice cream shops.

Instead, you want to go to where the pastry chefs work. Restaurants are increasingly slashing the position to cut costs, so just because a restaurant is highly touted doesn’t mean you can count on anything beyond a basic chocolate mousse or fruit crumble for the final course.

I’m always impressed by Scott Lovorn at Circa 1886, and not just because he makes a peanut butter pie. The rarified atmosphere at the restaurant might not make you think of a quick snack, but I’m certain you could manage a memorable “coffee and” at its bar. Andrea Upchurch, pastry chef for Hospitality Management Group, is another talent worth seeking out. I’d grab a table at Cypress’ second-floor bar and order a banana split. Finally, Emily Cookson, late of Charleston Grill and Butcher & Bee, this month takes over the pastry program at Edmund’s Oast. If you somehow can’t find anything you like on her dessert menu, Edmund’s is one of the local restaurants that’s smartly entrusted its cheese plates to goat.sheep.cow.

Finally, if it’s past standard dining hours, cocktail bars can be excellent sources of sweets. Consider the dessert empanadas at Warehouse, the Nutella-and-banana pop tarts at The Belmont and the peanut butter chocolate bar at The Gin Joint. (Did I mention I like peanut butter?) Have fun.

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