Screen Door’s banner dessert is arguably its creole pecan pie, which tastes so intense (Steen’s cane syrup custard is serious business!) that a dollop of whipped cream is a necessity, not an option. Yet the famed Southern comfort food restaurant has more than proven its mettle as a purveyor of wondrous cakes, particularly the red velvet variety. The harsh reality is that 99% of all cakes are too sweet, a problem often exacerbated by bludgeoning them with ice cream and frosting. In that category, Screen Door’s red velvet cake, masterminded by pastry chef Erin Eberlein-Sage, achieves perfect equilibrium: The cream cheese frosting is more buttery than sugary, and the cake itself prizes texture over sweetness. During my last visit, I dined on sweet potato gnocchi, then experienced a culinary hallelujah moment when the cake arrived, dusted with powdered sugar and flakes of chocolate. Biting into a dense yet soft, three-layer slice is heavenly, but so is the side dish: a scoop of vanilla ice cream perched atop a pile of red velvet crumbles. The presentation is a matter of practicality: You get to mix ice cream and crumbs together without your cake getting soggy. It’s more than comforting. It’s revelatory.
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