Over the past 13-or-so years I've had the chance — both professionally and avocationally — to sink my teeth into the best dishes that Cleveland has to offer. I've found plenty to love, and plenty to remember. But the single dish that lingers most poignantly is the Chic of Araby sundae at Boukairs, when that legendary Cleveland ice cream parlor was situated in the Hanna Building, across the street from the theaters of Playhouse Square.
I was barely knee-high to a barstool when my very urbane grandmama first took me there for a post-matinee treat. As I recall, the room was an exotic blend of sherbet colors, dramatic lighting, and great aromas, anchored by a large, centrally located, ornamental fountain that tinkled cheerfully in the background. Equally exotic were the names of the enormous ice-cream sundaes and parfaits — things like "Harem Share'm" and "The Temple of Love" — which were served in broad, fluted, hobnail bowls in jewel-toned colors that towered above the table on elegant glass pedestals.
The Chic was unlike any sundae I have eaten before or since: a precisely molded mountain of deliciousness comprised of equal parts coffee ice cream and raspberry sherbet. The ice cream was then draped in coffee syrup and something the menu cryptically called charlotte russe — a pure white sauce that fell somewhere between custard and marshmallow cream — before being garnished with toasted pistachios and topped off with a dense cone of indescribably rich whipped cream that was almost as tall as the ice-cream mountain, itself. It was simply the most perfect blend of flavors and textures imaginable — beautifully presented and savored in a thrilling (at least to an 8 year old) setting with a beloved grandma.
It still doesn't get any better than that.
Go here to see a picture of Boukair's sundaes. http://lourdes1966.com/images/s_boukairs_menu.jpg.