Something Sweet surpasses expectations

Amy Siebels

Something Sweet surpasses expectations (Julien Poncet)

It’s not your everyday ice cream shop. Something Sweet, billed as “Appleton’s first dessert only restaurant,” is for special occasions. Actually, it is a special occasion. Be prepared to spend a little more and find it worth every penny.The restaurant, owned by chefs Tim Laabs and fiance Theresa Henning, opened this spring with the pre- and post-show PAC crowds in mind. On a Thursday night at 9:30 it was all but, er, desserted. Liz, Carolyn, Katie, Matt, and I were seated immediately and offered beverages… everything from Victor Allen coffee to Adler Brau root beer. We opted for water.

The dcor was simple and uncluttered, even plain, but we were distracted by the rolling chairs and, more importantly, by the tray of desserts that was soon placed before us.

It was immediately apparent that these owners take pride in their creations. All of the desserts are from scratch, made with real butter, eggs, and sugar. This is no place for a dieter.

The desserts change regularly, so there is no set menu. That made a couple of us nervous, because there were no prices. But then again, this was a special occasion. There were five desserts to choose from, and Carolyn, Liz, and Katie chose three, under orders to share.

Then there was the special flaming menu. There are two specialty items on the menu: Crepes Suzette and Bananas Foster. These desserts are not for the weak-of-pocket; the crepes cost $11.95 for three ($22.00 for six), and the Bananas Foster costs $10.95. Throwing my inhibitions and poverty to the wind, I decided to try the crepes.

Something Sweet also has a full-service ice cream counter, with 18 flavors of premium Chocolate Shoppe ice cream and eight flavors of soft serve, from butterscotch to cotton candy. They’ll prepare anything you want. Matt ordered a malt.

We waited quite awhile-this is no fast food joint-but the atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant. Our water glasses were refilled often.

Finally the desserts arrived, and we gazed at them with giddy smiles on our faces. They were presented beautifully, with designs of flavored sauces on the plates. Out of forced politeness, my friends restrained themselves and simply drooled as they waited for my crepes to be prepared tableside.

The chef brought out a cart with a heating dish over a sterno can. He started with “a little butter”-a cup full of it. Matt told me to turn my brain off, and that was the last I thought of calories for the night.

He added brown sugar, juice from a whole orange, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a generous dose of Grand Marnier.

Then he dropped in the crepes-thin, to soak up the flavor-and added the special ingredient, then lit it on fire. The flames burned down, leaving a tantalizingly sweet citrus aroma. He set the plate in front of me and I sighed with pleasure.

At that point I realized that Matt had decided he couldn’t wait any longer. He had started slurping his chocolate raspberry truffle malt. It was rich, thick, creamy, and flavorful, served in a tall glass with the extra malt in a metal cup. Matt said he could taste the malt flavoring but it didn’t overwhelm the drink. The price was a reasonable $3.75.

Carolyn’s dessert was called “Chocolate Overdose,” or C.O.D. It was a flourless chocolate cake with a thin layer of creamy frosting. It held its shape nicely, but when she bit into it, it dissolved into a rich fudge in her mouth. She shared only reluctantly.

Katie, a cheesecake connoisseur, chose the Grasshopper Cheesecake, a thick, creamy green mint cheesecake coated in dark chocolate. Katie noted the high quality of the chocolate and the way it melted. She said the chocolate flavor was more prominent than the mint, which is no problem for a chocoholic.

Liz ordered one of the restaurant’s specialties, the Caricot Torte. It was a spiced carrot cake layered with apricot filling and topped with cream cheese frosting. She loved it, and so did everyone else. The apricot complemented the carrot perfectly, and the portion was large.

All three of the homemade desserts cost $5.95 per slice, but no one complained.

The cakes and malt may have been to-die-for, but the star of the evening was the Crepes Suzette. I was in heaven. I closed my eyes and savored each bite, letting it melt rather than chewing it.

The flavor came in waves; first I tasted sweetness, then citrus, and finally the kicker-the Grand Marnier. It was absolutely perfect. Matt said he finally understood the meaning of a “complex flavor.”

The bill was more than we’d ever spent on dessert, but every one of us vowed to come back soon, and at least three of us are willing to spring for the Bananas Foster.

The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The friendliness of the owners and the quality of the desserts make Something Sweet a sweet success, and we hope it finds a permanent home on College Avenue.