In July, Chef Michael Bump took over as Executive Pastry Chef of the Forking Amazing trio Bistro Aix, Il Desco, and Ovinte. To say we are Chef Michael’s biggest fans is probably an understatement. His desserts are remarkable and unique and always leave you with a full sensory experience. With almost 20 years of pastry experience, the move to Forking Amazing was an opportunity for Chef Michael to revamp his line of desserts into something fresh and new. After several months of research and development, the new dessert menus have launched at Bistro Aix and Il Desco and we were recently invited out to taste some of the new menu offerings.
Still present at Bistro Aix as signatures of Chef Michael, you can expect to see the caramel woven Apple Tarte Tatin ($9) with his signature brown butter ice cream, his life changing Lavender Creme Brulee ($8), and a full petit four menu in the pastry case that will include the familiar and comforting flavors that Chef Michael excels at. New to the pastry menu at Bistro Aix are the Chocolate Nutella Crepes ($9), the Roasted Seasonal Fruits ($8), and the Beignet Feuilletee ($9). I began with the Roasted Seasonal Fruits, which at our service were sweet warm spiced peaches on vanilla shortbread crumbles, served with phyllo crisps and buttermilk ice cream. These flavors are simplistic and trigger memories of hot summers spent on a back porch eating peach cobbler with fresh churned ice cream. Expect to be whisked into a nostalgic moment while enjoying this lighter dessert that will include seasonally rotated fruits. The shortbread was airy and buttery and added amazing texture to the soft fruit and creamy ice cream. This is a dessert to be eaten with every element in each bite to capture the beauty behind the complementary flavors.
Following that indulgence, we moved on to the Chocolate Nutella Crepe. Chef Michael’s crepes are impossibly thin and yet still hold the rich chocolate and hazelnut flavor that steals everyone’s heart. These are layered with a dark chocolate mousse, crispy hazelnut brittle, and a vanilla anglaise to juxtapose the intense chocolate. The star of this dessert was the hazelnut brittle, which added so much texture to the crepes that nearly melted in our mouths as we ate them. This is a dessert for chocolate lovers who don’t want a dense torte or cake but still want to envelope themselves in warm hazelnut and chocolate. It’s by far the most well executed crepe I’ve been served.
Rounding out the Bistro Aix additions is the Beignet Feuilletee, which will certainly be the most talked about dessert in Jacksonville. This dessert revealed a refined technique from Chef Michael. He stepped out of his comfort zone, which is a safe space full of creamy, decadent, dense desserts that are exceptionally effortless for him and into a territory that showcases his fine dining experience. Vietnamese cinnamon spins through the most tender, flaky beignet that rises in a column of paper thin layers. Inside you’ll find a Frangelico creme brulee that sweetens the tart raspberry sauce and candied hazelnuts. For something so remarkably simple, this dessert is unparalleled with anything else on the menu, and perhaps in the city.
Our final dessert for the evening was the newest addition to the Il Desco Menu, the Chocolate Praline Torte ($9). This dessert is more reminiscent of Chef Michael’s root recipes. Dense dark chocolate cake is layered with praline, dark chocolate mousse, vanilla anglaise, and candied hazelnuts. Whereas the aforementioned Nutella Crepe shows the lighter side of dark chocolate, this torte holds nothing back and showcases bitter dark chocolate in its finest form. One of the things that makes Chef Michael so different in his pastry creation is that he doesn’t overly sweeten his desserts. The quality of ingredients and skill in preparation speak for themselves – there is no need to muddle the flavors of dark chocolate with sugar when it is turned into something as memorable as this. Surrounding it on the new Il Desco menu is the classic Tiramisu ($9) that is updated with mascarpone mousse, Bombolini donuts ($8) with freshly prepared dipping sauces, and a Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake ($8) amongst other sweets.
There is a unity among the new menus that makes them definitively from Chef Michael and also ties the trio of restaurants together with similar offerings, just reimagined. Forking Amazing has given him the freedom to design, create, and showcase his strengths. Still present are the small touches that are so signature of his creations – fresh mint, vibrant berries, and elegant plating. Nothing has been overlooked in the menu redesign, and it is certainly nothing less than remarkable. Forking Amazing has become a new destination for desserts in Jacksonville, and we expect to see that develop even more as they continue to expand their portfolio of area restaurants with Cowford Chophouse this winter. For now, we have dozens of new options to enjoy at Bistro Aix, Il Desco, and Ovinte, with each one arguably being the best. Anyone who has sampled Chef Michael’s desserts before knows the passion put into every aspect of a recipe, and that is certainly on full display in his debut with Forking Amazing.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.