It continues to confound me that more restaurants don’t pay more attention their dessert menus. In this era of Dominique Ansel-style treats (ahem, the Cronut), tired flourless chocolate cake or uninspired bread pudding simply won’t do. Thanks to newly installed pastry chef Nadine Donovan (previously of Old Major), it’s clear that Ace Eat Serve recognizes the importance of turning a last bite into a lasting impression.

The menu, which Donovan rolled out two weeks ago, is broken into different sections: Bites, Plated Desserts, and Frozen Treats. In keeping with the restaurant’s family-style approach, most dishes are built for sharing. There are five-spice doughnuts (made of bao bun dough), the most delicate fortune cookies I’ve ever had, and showcase desserts such as the Ginza pineapple (pictured left). The dessert combines scoops of exquisite coconut sorbet with wedges of soju-infused pineapple with a sprinkling of togarashi caramel corn. Donovan compresses the pineapple, which concentrates the fruit’s candylike flavor and creates a texture similar to that of semifreddo. The popcorn, tossed with togarashi (a Japanese spice mix), offsets the sweetness with a little spice and crunch.

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Perhaps most interesting about this worth-a-trip-all-its-own treat is how friendly it is for those suffering from food allergies: it contains no dairy, eggs, nuts, or flour. “It’s a pretty unique dish,” Donovan says. “It’s so dietary friendly—which is really different for me because I usually rely so heavily on eggs, butter, and flour. It’s important to think of people with allergies when making food.” To that point, the bao bun doughnuts, the marshmallows, and the shaved ice are all allergy-friendly (depending on the sensitivity, of course).

Donovan came aboard Secret Sauce Food & Beverage (Ace, Steuben’s and Vesta Dipping Grill) at the end of February, and she’s been busy. In March, she launched a new menu at Steuben’s, which includes new items and reworks the restaurant’s classics such as the butterscotch pudding and cupcakes. Then she unveiled Ace’s new dessert lineup. Vesta’s program is next, but that won’t be complete for several more weeks.

501 E. 17th Ave., 303-800-7705

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.