I’ve never been much of a dessert person. Sweets evoke a take-it-or-leave it response in me mentally and physiologically. I seldom crave it or decide to end my meal with it. Though I wholeheartedly understand the importance of dessert and the logic of leaving a meal with the taste of chocolate instead of chicken piccata on the tongue, I’m indifferent. Dare I say, I prefer chicken piccata over chocolate.

So what changed my mind about ordering a dessert this time?

Fate – read: one of two options on Clarence’s lunch set menu – that brought me and the mousse together.

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Following the first spoonful, I asked myself four successive questions: firstly, how did they get the mousse so luscious? Secondly, why don’t more people segment citrus? Then, where did the rest go? And finally, am I free next Saturday to eat this?

The burnt white chocolate and mandarin mousse was silky and on the thicker side, but still light – this texture with the almost-savouriness of the burnt white chocolate was pure genius. The mandarin granita was floral and fluffy – more or less what every child imagines snow tastes like. Then, you’ve got the small, skinless mandarin pieces hiding under the granita and crunchy bits of honeycomb sprinkled on top. Full marks.

Each component brought its strengths to the table – flavour, texture or temperature – and it made perfect sense despite how simply it read in black and white on the menu. Not to echo my dessert-averse Chinese mother, but it was also “not too sweet” in the best way possible. (If you know, you know.)

True seasonality in cooking is underrated, and this dessert honoured that. When I asked Clarence if it would still have the dessert by the time this article would be published (as it changes its menu weekly), I was told, “It’s still very early in the mandarin season, so we’ll probably run it for a little while.”

If that’s not a sign to book in a long lunch, I’m not sure what is.

Clarence
617 Stanley Street, Woolloongabba
0452 655 996

Hours:
Mon to Fri 5.30pm–10pm
Sat & Sun midday–2.30pm, 5.30pm–10pm

clarencerestaurant.com
@clarence.restaurant