Worth a road trip
By Sue Ellen Ross For Sun-Times Media May 15, 2012 11:24AM
The Dessert Menu, a pastry shop in Dyer, Ind., opened Friday, March 23, 2012. From left are owner/pastry chef Renee Wilson, executive pastry chef David Castillo, cake artist Leda Miranda and pastry chef Jill Dolniak. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
If you go
• Dessert Menu
• 1950 Hart St., Dyer
• (219) 227-8772
• Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; closed Monday
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:05AM
After a trip to the movies, Renee Wilson and her husband Jerome wanted a sweet treat to top off their date.
“He wanted cheesecake and I wanted ice cream,” the Dyer resident said. “As we pondered where to go, we realized such a place did not exist in Northwest Indiana.”
The couple playfully tossed around ideas for a shop that would fulfill their needs. “I suggested Dessert Menu since we always requested it after our meal,” Wilson said.
Nine years later, that long-ago vision has come to fruition. Wilson has become a pastry chef and owner of Dessert Menu, a new business on Hart Road in Dyer.
Lined up on and in large glass display counters are colorful Neapolitans, cream puffs and French macarons — bite-sized delights that come in flavors such as passion fruit with a snap of filling between two layers of lighter-than-air cookies.
Also on the menu are croissants (ricotta and spinach, ham and cheese, chocolate), scones with various fresh fruit flavors, fresh fruit tarts, cheesecake, and eclairs filled with freshly made pastry creams. A refrigerated glass case displays gelato and sorbet.
“We were sold out of everything by 9 a.m.,” said sales clerk Eric Gutierrez on the first day of business, as he arranged freshly made brownie bites and cupcakes on the counter.
Executive chef David Castillo, pastry chef Jill Dolniak and cake artist Leda Miranda were busy in the kitchen with Wilson, who was trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago, preparing more selections for the steady stream of opening-day customers.
The shop also offers custom-made cakes.
“There are no books here (from which to chose a cake),” Castillo said. “Bring your sketches and ideas and we will tailor-make a cake for you. You bring your vision and we will make it happen.”
“We also offer various hand-crafted confections such as salted caramels and pate de fruit,” a candy made from freshly pureed fruit, Wilson said. “In the cake arena, we have specialty cakes, wedding cakes, and 3-D cakes that have become so popular on various television networks. And of course we have cupcakes.”
“Most importantly, we take suggestions very seriously,” she said. “We will try to accommodate our customers’ taste buds’ desires, within reason.”
Dessert Menu is offering a monthly Dessert Flight that allows the chefs to create new items and customers to taste a trio of out-of-the-ordinary desserts.