Acanto Enjoy stylish Italian fare just a stone’s throw away from Millennium Park at Acanto. The smooth and creamy panna cotta satisfies the senses with a goat milk cream base that seamlessly counters a tangy, fruity counterpart. Executive Pastry Chef Greg Mosko floats the velvety custard molding with candied fennel and hazelnuts on top of a flavor-packed strawberry gelée. One bite of the light, luxurious dessert really seals the deal for a sweet ending. 18 S. Michigan Ave.
Althea It’s about time Chicagoans had somewhere to experience an elegant plant-based meal, and chef Matthew Kenney delivers just that with Althea. His raw desserts enchant with color and vibrancy, but one sweet splendor stands out. Veiled under a coating of banana slices sprinkled with coconut shavings and edible viola flowers lies a cloudlike coconut cream pie. Made entirely with nutrient-rich raw foods, the dessert begs for your fork to glide through buttery textures to the flour-free macadamia nut crust. The banana cream is so unbelievably fluffy and rich, it’s hard to believe not a morsel of dairy was used to create it. 700 N. Michigan Ave.
Free Rein After years working together at Mango, executive sous chef Ariel Bagadiong reunites with chef Kristine Subido for this showstopping dessert at the all-day eatery adjoining the St. Jane Chicago hotel. A crispy combination of hazelnut, banana and rum, with a touch of lemongrass caramel come together in Free Rein’s banana hazelnut crunch cake. Crispy, paper-thin Feuilletines are sprinkled throughout to provide an oh-so-satisfying crunch. Praline paste seeps into the crevices of a hazelnut sponge cake, and it’s all topped off with sweet banana-rum mousse. 224 N. Michigan Ave.
Photography by: acanto photo courtesy of gage hospitality group | althea photo by Adrian Mueller/althea | free rein photo by colleen dunn/free rein