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DISH '09: Cheesecake guide

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BY TRICIA SEYMOUR

When thinking about cheesecake, visions of the famous New York style of the dessert dance into my head. Thick, luxurious slices with some type of fruit topping -- ruby red cherries, or perhaps flavorful blueberries. While I wanted to sample some classically styled cheesecakes, I also wanted to explore more adventurous takes on the decadent dessert. Rochester did itself proud with the variations available, and while I went with a few well known dessert havens, I also found a few stops that might surprise. Note that this is in no way a comprehensive list of notable local cheesecake purveyors. If you'd like to share your favorite spot for a slice, comment on this article at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

Good Luck

Good Luck (50 Anderson Ave, 340-6161, restaurantgoodluck.com) is what you want to see in a restaurant that has taken over a former factory space: the owners obviously appreciate the room and its history, and have enhanced it with a fun restaurant concept. If you haven't been to Good Luck, I would recommend a visit just for the atmosphere (although it can get loud from time to time) and the unique throwback drink menu (with perfectly square ice cubes). This time, in addition to our Gilded Ricky cocktail, we added the goat cheese cheesecake to our order. The presentation was simple -- an overturned round cake placed on top of raspberry sauce, with delicate fresh raspberries placed on top. The texture was firm yet silky, and the slight saltiness of the goat cheese was an enjoyable deviation from the traditionally sweet cheesecake. I do wish there was a bit more raspberry sauce, as it was an excellent contrast to the goat cheese.

Cheesy Eddie's

After having such an enjoyable experience with the carrot cake cupcakes at Cheesy Eddie's (602 South Ave, 473-1300, cheesyeddies.com), the South Wedge business was an obvious choice for my cheesecake round-up. After all, Cheesy Eddie's is all about cheesecake. It's even in the name! The charming shop offers a rotating selection of flavored cheesecake slices, although you can always order a full cake from the menu. On the day of my visit, the pumpkin cheesecake was available, and since fall is here, it was a timely find. And a delicious one: the texture was beautifully smooth, and the ribbon of pumpkin flavor subtly complemented the cheesecake base, rather than overpowering it. Little bite-sized cheesecakes are available if you're trying to behave, and the key lime option was a burst of flavor in a cute (and affordable) compact package.

Tastings

Having enjoyed dining at Tastings (3195 Monroe Ave, 381-1881, tastings.wegmans.com) several times, I was happy to see cheesecake on the dessert list, providing an excuse to revisit the restaurant. I was happier still that the cheesecake offering here is somewhat different. Cheesecake Three Ways provides the creaminess you would expect of the dessert in three distinct forms. The cherry cheesecake ice cream was a favorite; smooth with the right tartness to keep you coming back for more. The panna cotta had a vibrant peach note to complement the silkiness of the cooked cream. The marble cheesecake had a strong chocolate flavor, but I found the coarse texture to be a bit rougher than I would have liked. Nevertheless, this is a fun option if you're looking for outside-the-box cheesecake presentation.

Cheesecake Factory

In interest of full disclosure, working at a Cheesecake Factory in Maryland helped me pay my way through college, so I have had ample opportunity to try its plethora of flavors. While Cheesecake Factory (3349 Monroe Ave, 381-8681, thecheesecakefactory.com) is a national chain, it's impossible to write a cheesecake round-up without at least mentioning its more than 30 varieties of the creamy treat. Dessert was always an easy sell at this restaurant, and people would ask what my top three were. My spiel went something like this: "The Banana Cream Cheesecake is a light, airy cheesecake topped high with fresh whipped cream and fresh sliced banana. We also have Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which is as delicious and decadent as it sounds; with Reese's, Butterfingers, caramel, and peanut butter swirls, this will surely hit the spot. My ultimate favorite has always been the Dulce De Leche, a beautiful honey-colored cake with caramel ribbons. The fresh and creamy texture will melt in your mouth and the vanilla crust complements it perfectly." With the check I always brought to-go boxes -- the slices are plentiful and the leftovers taste good for breakfast.

Phillips European

While the strip-mall location and decor may not tempt you, the large case of desserts as soon as you walk in the door at Phillips (26 Corporate Woods, 272-9910, phillipseuropean.com) probably will. When I asked friends and colleagues where I should go for dessert, Phillips was the resounding first choice. I chose the less adventurous cherry-berry slice loaded with berries, and enjoyed every bite. The tang of the sour cream, the flavorful crust, and the array of berries made this an easy slice to eat. Several other cheesecakes tempted me, such as the raspberry and the caramel pecan varieties. It's easy to see why everyone chimed in with a vote for Phillips.

Tournedos

Located in the historic Inn on Broadway, Tournedos (26 Broadway St, 269-3888, innonbroadway.com) has a comfortable yet elegant interior with gleaming wood floors and clean, classic lines. While perhaps better known for its steak offerings, Tournedos treated us to a pretty solid cheesecake. The vanilla bean cheesecake was served with the slightest hint of vanilla, and was buried in berries, providing a burst of flavor to brighten up the soft vanilla texture. A perfect companion with wine, or an ideal end to a savory meal, the chocolate cheesecake here is reportedly like no other. No matter what you choose, your sweet tooth should be satisfied.

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