Heck, what's stopping you from merging sweet and savory in every course? It sounds like a rejection of every mother's wisdom. But in Mom's day, pastry chefs weren't mooching ingredients from cooks over at the grill. "It's nice to blur the boundary between courses," says Boris Portnoy, chef at Candybar (www.candybarsf.com ) , a "dessert lounge" near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Any evening, he might serve breast of poussin (young chicken) in a chocolate béarnaise sauce or a dessert of vanilla brioche with parsnip ice cream. San Francisco's Elizabeth Falkner also laces main dishes with sweet items and desserts with savory ones. At Orson (www.orsonsf.com ), she serves Parmesan pudding with piquillo peppers, cocoa nibs, and Pop Rocks. And she makes a frozen sandwich with Italian waffle cookies and chocolate–black olive ice cream. Diners who order the tarte tatin at Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro (payard.com) inside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas get aged cheddar cheese and a salad of frilly lettuce alongside the caramelized apple dessert. Meanwhile, at Portland's Heathman Restaurant (www.heathmanrestaurantandbar.com ), you can sample marshmallow and bittersweet chocolate s'mores, pistachio gelato profiteroles, bread pudding with caramel sauce, and more—all at one meal. What, you're full? No one said you have to order an entrée.
Photography by Mitch Tobias 
This article was first published in January 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.