Most of us learnt at an early age that there was a reward for getting through mealtimes: dessert – those sweet temptations that helped us gulp down the greens we so despised. As we grew older, greens took on an all-new appeal and are now often considered – especially in foodie circles – even more desirable than a third course. That is, until you’ve been introduced to the dessert menu at The Giri Café in San Juan. It seems even after seven years of being in business, the Giri kitchen still has a few well-kept secrets up its crafty chef’s sleeves, with the daily dessert offering managing to remain under the radar – until now. The restaurant’s dessert menu is short, and sweet (pun intended) yet offers something for everyone, from rich and decadent to light and zingy or even just a little bit healthy!
You can blame the cheesecake for the rise of The Giri Café’s reputation for fabulous desserts. It was this signature dish that started making waves in foodie blogs, across Instagram and in select island guides, not to mention winning the hearts (through the stomachs) of anyone who’s ever taken a bite. This is no ordinary cheesecake, dear readers. Rather, it is a divinely light, raw avocado and lime fusion whipped into a cake and served atop a sweet homemade (definitely not store-bought) biscuit base. But that’s not all that made this cheesecake famous – it’s the addition of a decadent homemade maraschino cherry (forget childhood memories the tinned types!) and its tangy sauce served on top, plus sweet dollops of ginger paste that provide the addictive finishing touch. The Giri Café co-owner Rosa Pil Hildebrandt says the restaurant receives regular emails from its legions of fans asking for the recipe – and while she’s not averse to giving basic guidelines to keen home chefs, there are some things that must remain a trade secret.
If you’re only going to order one dessert at The Giri Café, the lime and avocado cheesecake is indeed the must-try, however desserts by nature are perfect for sharing so it’s well worth taking a look at the rest of the menu. Chocolate lovers will find it hard to go past the classic brownie – thick, rich, intense, fudgey, warm and with just the right amount of walnut crunch to satisfy even the most worldly of brownie connoisseurs. A scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment. The Giri Café are known for taking cuisine classics and giving them their own uniquely contemporary twist, and the dessert menu is no exception. Take the crème brulee for example – the base of the dish is exactly as you’ve come to know and love it. Light and fluffy custard – made even more delectable with a fresh vanilla bean – with an ultra-fine layer of sweet toffee lovingly caramelised by hand topping each dish. But the scoop of homemade ice cream on top is where the twist comes into play: a creamy, sweet dulce de leche flavour inspired by the taste that is so popular in Spain.
Does dessert ever get better than grandma’s lemon meringue pie? Well… when you combine granny’s recipe with an Ibiza chef’s flair, some would definitely argue yes. The Giri Café’s head chef has taken her family secrets and given them a playful twist. Fresh lemons, taken from the trees of a nearby orchard, give zesty flavour to the creamy custard, placed atop a homemade biscuit crumble with oh-so-perfect peaks of meringue balancing on top. Each mouthful reveals the contrast of sweet and sour and evokes a feeling of nostalgia. With a variety of dessert wines on offer, including the sweet cider-based 20 Manzanas or the classic Pedro Ximinez, you can also find the perfect drop to wash them down with. Coffees can be spiked with your liquor of choice (ask for a ‘carajillo’), sorbet can be given an injection of vodka and The Giri Café’s expert bartenders can shake and stir the finest espresso martinis and daiquiris in the north. It’s important to note, getting your just desserts at The Giri Café isn’t only limited to the third course during lunch or dinner service. Diners are welcomed to pop in for coffee and cake in the afternoons, and indeed, those with a late-night craving are invited to pass by just to satisfy their sweet tooth. After all, who said dessert couldn’t be your first course?