“You’ve never had the Black Forest Cake at Swiss Pastry Shop?” my friend asked in disbelief, as we were driving around last week searching for a lunch spot.
And before I could even protest that I’m not a huge chocolate fan (and that I really don't think chocolate mixes well with cherries), he pointed his car towards Vickery Blvd.
The Swiss Pastry Shop is a longstanding institution on the Fort Worth dining scene, opened in 1973. It serves up breakfast and lunch diner staples, with a strong German slant. (Think lots of bratwurst, knackwurst, and Polish sausage.) But what usually compels locals to make the detour there is the bakery and pastry counter at the front, and especially the famous Black Forest Macaron cake, which the owners dub "The UnCake."
And, as it turns out, my weird chocolate-and-cherries phobia was entirely misplaced. The traditional Black Forest Cake has layers of chocolate cake separated by some sort of whipped cream, frosting and cherries concoction, with still more cherries on top – it usually looks like this. The Swiss Pastry Shop version ($2.50 per slice), however, has no cherries at all, and the cake layers are actually a crispy, impossible light meringue. The layers are divided by whipped cream and a generous portion of thin chocolate shavings, which also goes on top.
It isn’t at all heavy or cloyingly sweet – before I could finish one bite, I was determined to have another. My friend has a tradition of ordering a full cake every year for his birthday (prices range from $17.25 to $100.25, depending on size). Now that I’ve been belatedly turned on this local culinary wonder, I will likely be following his routine.
Meanwhile, the whole experience got me thinking about how dessert can often be the best part of any meal – and wondering about other Fort Worth restaurants that have stand-out offerings. A few other favorites leaped to mind:
Reata offers dessert tacos with bananas and chocolate "gravy" – an ingenious twist on the Tex-Mex classic.
The late Nora Ephron, who had a famous policy of ordering multiple desserts ("You should always have at least four desserts that are kind of fighting with each other"), would have especially liked Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana, where I can never decide between the key lime goat cheesecake and the gourmet twist on churros.
And, of course, there's the inimitable, innumerable pies by Paris Coffee Shop – my favorite is the coconut cream.
Use the comments field below to tell us about your favorite desserts. Because as much as great desserts should be relished, they should also be shared.
The Swiss Pastry Shop is open 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday to Friday; 7:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Full cakes should be ordered in advance.