The dessert tray has gone out of fashion, and that's probably a good thing. Just seeing the waiter walk toward our table hoisting a platter of cakes, pies, and custards used to make our pants shrink around our thighs. That's why we're not sure whether Esin deCarion is a force of evil or a force of good. The pastry chef of Cafe Esin (her husband, Curtis, handles the kitchen's savory side) makes so many desserts every day that she can't keep them to herself. So she displays each and every one in a refrigerated case -- in full sight of everyone in the dining room. A steady procession of diners meanders up to gawk at the chocolate-swirl mascarpone cheesecakes, chocolate fudge brownie tortes, pecan tarts, and blueberry bread puddings. Most return to their tables to order as many desserts as prudence will allow. Few leave much more than a smear of icing on the plate.
4001 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-601-7780