D is for Dessert
Vaccaro's · Cheesecake Factory · Adrian's Book Café · Moxley's · Louie's Bookstore Café · Coney Island
The secret at Cheesecake Factory (Pratt Street Pavilion at Harborplace,  234-3990) is to skip--or at least skimp on--dinner. From its gargantuan salads to the mammoth mounds of meat loaf and mashed potatoes, this restaurant is all about gluttony. Given that this is, after all the Cheesecake Factory, stuffing oneself and skipping the final course seems a tad unorthodox. Of course, this presents its own set of challenges, like choosing among the 37 varieties of cheesecake available and carving your way through a 4-inch slab of the stuff.
The secret of Adrian's Book Café (714 S. Broadway,  732-1048) is sophisticated desserts in a refined setting. Classical music wafts through the rarefied air as you savor cheesecake or carrot cake or apple pie, surrounded by tomes of classical philosophy. Even plain coffee with friends takes on a new tone when it's on the second floor of this Fells Point shop. The whole experience leaves you feeling cultured, as if you just sat through a three-hour lecture on Kantian influences on The Mill on the Floss and actually enjoyed it.
If ice cream isn't the end-all and be-all of your existence, you don't deserve to go to Moxley's (25 W. Allegheny Ave.,  825-2544). This Towson ice-cream parlor offers sanctuary to connoisseurs whose tender sensibilities have been insulted by fat-free frozen yogurt, sugar-free sprinkles, and too many trends. Heaven is served by the scoopful here: Take your choice of two- or three-scoop sundaes, all with homemade ice cream, gooey toppings, and a walloping dollop of whipped cream.
Louie's Bookstore Café (518 N. Charles St.,  962-1224) seems busier at 10 p.m. than at any other time (unless it's Sunday, when the line for brunch snakes into the bookstore). The late-evening crowd swell might have something to do with Louie's rich and tempting desserts. Fruit pie is the true test of a restaurant's sweet tooth--any fool can make a passable dessert by loading on the chocolate and put the word "suicide" in the title. But it takes real skill to concoct a delicious berry pie, and Louie's passes the fruit-pie test with flying colors.
Baltimore boasts few pleasures as multifarious as lunching at Lexington Market, with its bewildering and beguiling array of options. We agonize over what to get: Barbecue or bulgogi? A gyro or a half-chicken? But when it comes to a Lexington dessert, we are steadfast and single-minded. We head directly to Coney Island ( 539-5754) for one of Baltimore's best milk shakes, a shiveringly thick sugar jolt that counteracts post-lunch loginess and sets us up for the rest of the day.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201