DUCK DUCK GOAT
Pastry chef Nate Meads says his blueberry rhubarb ice “takes the fire out of your mouth after a spicy dish or two,” at this Chinese-inspired restaurant from Stephanie Izard. Thank the flavors and textures from the soothing rhubarb ice to the low heat of the blueberry and Bullet-chili sorbet. 857 W. Fulton Market
Stefano Tulipano, pastry chef of this West Loop restaurant, adds a refreshing savory note—a signature of his unique desserts—to his coconut sorbet by adding cucumber, which he compresses together with honey and salt. "It's something a bit salty-sweet to balance the other flavors," says the Italian-born chef. 1748 W. Lake St.
At this farm-to-table pioneer, pastry chef Amanda Shepard evokes hints of Mother Nature in her pistachio filo dessert. “There’s honeysuckle granita for a floral flavor, pistachio cream for nuts and dairy, honey for bees, and crispy filo dough, which is like the crunch of a walk in the woods," she says. 2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.
This River North restaurant's Armenian roots (chef-partner Carrie Nahabedian's parents were born there) come out in kazandibi, an Ottoman-style milk custard, which pastry chef Craig Harzewski pairs with pomegranate sorbet, pistachios, preserved apricots and mastic, a tree resin from that region. 500 N. Clark St.
“To put on a chocolate dessert after a dozen courses, it has to be really light,” says Genie Kwon, pastry chef and partner at Oriole. Her gianduja chocolate gelato dessert with mascarpone, preserved cherries and sakura blossoms definitely does the trick. “It has a lot of texture contrasts. Plus, I couldn’t resist a nature scene," she says of its beautiful plating. 661 W. Walnut St.