Dude, Sweet

The sundae grows up

We consider an overloaded sundae from Margie's Candies to be one of Chicago's finest indulgences.

But a recent sundae proliferation across town has kept us away from the classic Bucktown spot. Of course, these new sundaes swap yuzu-soaked tapioca and bourbon caramel for peanuts and chocolate sauce.

Carriage House: In true Lowcountry spirit, the sundae ($8) at this new Wicker Park restaurant is inspired by pralines and booze. Soft brown-sugar shortbread wearing a crisp brown-sugar meringue hat is loaded with butter-pecan ice cream and candied pecans. The sundae is soused with caramel that's been stirred with enough bourbon to leave a trace on the breath.

Belly Q: Bill Kim's dessert menu is concise: It's soft-serve sundaes ($6) or nothing. A vanilla-coconut-water soft-serve base is paired with granitas and jelly-like toppings. Try one with an orange-passion fruit granita and cubes of chewy nata de coco (coconut jelly), or another with citrus-Asian pear ice and tapioca cooked in yuzu juice.

Balena: Pastry chef Amanda Rockman's "composed sundaes" ($9) are quite sophisticated. Pistachio gelato is decorated with burnt-orange caramel, pistachio nougat and shimmering panes of candied orange. Grapefruit sorbet and Aperol granita are topped by dry meringue, a combination as bitter and complex as it is sweet.