The Sweetest Thing

Gotham Bar and Grill gets a new pastry chef

Gotham Bar and Grill's pastry chef Ron Paprocki sees Black Forest cake as a dusky forest floor replete with piped twigs, chocolate dirt and boulders of cherries.

This is fitting, as Paprocki spent 10 years as a landscape designer before focusing on desserts.

As Gotham's new pastry chef, Paprocki is guiding this infallible, admirable dinosaur of a restaurant (open since 1984) toward a similarly grand change. His new menu of ravishing sweets transforms simple ingredients with complex technique.

Paprocki's Black Forest cake journey started in Germany, where, during a pastry school apprenticeship, he learned to bake a hidebound version.

Conversely, his Gotham Black Forest ($14) revolves around an elastic chocolate crème pudding made with a blend of two types of Valrhona chocolate.

Instead of stacking components, Paprocki's cake reaches for the edges of the plate: loamy, salted chocolate sablés are scattered among flourless chocolate cake bits, micro mint leaves and mint ice cream.

And in this case, the cherry on top is truly that: Fat Bing cherries stud the soil underfoot, each glossed with an acidic shield of Villa Manodori Dark Cherry Balsamic Vinegar.

This is one forest floor we are more than happy to eat off of.

Gotham Bar and Grill, 12 E. 12th St. (between Fifth Ave. and University Pl.); 212-620-4020 or gothambarandgrill.com