Sweet Atlanta

Forget what your mama said, eat dessert first.
Andria Scott Hurst

Presented With Elegance
Try something new for Valentine's Day: Take your darling out for dessert. You'll enjoy sumptuous confections in beautiful places for less than $10 each--a fraction of what a full meal might cost. And with so many delectable choices in Atlanta, you'll find a selection for every taste.

On the north end of town, Rainwater restaurant serves New American cuisine--old favorites with a twist. There are several lovely dining rooms, but for the most romantic setting, ask for a table in the Davidoff Room near the fireplace. It's quiet, dimly lit, and the perfect spot to linger with your lover over sweets. Raspberry Staircase is spectacular--white and dark chocolate mousses surrounded by a fragile cookie sculpture with an assorted nut crust. It tastes even better than it looks. The Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Torte is too good to share. Being here feels like an in-town getaway. You may get in without reservations on weeknights, but call ahead on weekends. 11655 Haynes Bridge Road, Alpharetta; (770) 777-0033. Desserts: $7.


Atlantic Seafood Company
This wasn't one of my planned stops for dessert; I was here strictly for the fish. Then, someone at the next table got something so beautiful, I had to have it too. The Passion Fruit Trifle, served in a large martini glass, stacks layers of passion fruit curd, ladyfingers soaked in raspberry syrup, and mixed berry compote. It may be enough for two, but I ate it all myself. You'll be drawn here by the wonderfully fresh seafood, but I know you'll be back for this heavenly sweet. 2345 Mansell Road, Alpharetta; (770) 640-0488. Desserts: $5.95-$7.95.

At this restaurant, pastry chef Kathryn King uses inspiration from her grandmother to re-create flavors from her childhood. The dessert menu revolves to reflect the seasons and always offers six to eight delicious options. My favorite, Toasted Lemon Pound Cake, is melt-in-your-mouth good with roasted plums and ginger ice cream. Warm Chocolate Cheesecake has a smooth, creamy texture because it's made fresh each day and is never refrigerated overnight. Yum. Look over the extensive dessert wine list, and the staff will gladly make pairing suggestions. Reservations are recommended. Or you can grab a seat at the small bar for dessert and conversation. 490 East Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead; (404) 233-7673. Desserts: $7-$8.


Brasserie Le Coze
This restaurant offers a taste of old-world France and a respite from stress. On a sunny day, opt for a sidewalk table. You can't go wrong with the Yuzu Lemon Tart with vanilla ice cream. Its flavor is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. The Warm Banana Tart, a house favorite, comes wrapped in airy layers of crispy phyllo.

With the faint music, the impeccable service, and the detailed interior, it'll be easy to pretend you're dining along the Seine River. Reservations are recommended on weekends. 3393 Peachtree Road, Lenox Square, Buckhead; (404) 266-1440. Desserts: $4.50-$5.50.

This article is from the February 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.