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An Ode to the Lava Cake

Death by lava

There are times when a lobster and crab cake appetizer, a bloody hunk of filet mignon topped with crab and béarnaise, a bottle or two of wine, some asparagus, a dish of potatoes gnarled with cheese, and a couple of glasses of top-shelf vodka just don't leave you feeling sated.

Those times tend to be the times when someone else is paying.

But say you do, indeed, have a friend with an expense account. Maybe it's a "special friend." Maybe it's a friend who wants to be a "special friend." Maybe it's neither of those friends but rather is a lovely publicist friend who handles accounts for top restaurants around the county, and you just don't see enough of her, and yes, damn it, you will make time to finally catch up, especially since one of the restaurants she handles is Fleming's, the ungodly steak house in Fashion Island.

Then, my dear, after your steak and your sides and your premium liquor, you will order the lava cake.

I am not particularly a chocolate person. I like it well enough when my son's Halloween candy is mocking me, or when a friend who wants to be a special friend showers me with bonbons alongside the Stoli, or if I happen to be PMSing and there's no pork fat to be had. But I'm certainly not one of those women who describe chocolate as "sinful" or "decadent" or "orgasmic," even. I hate those women, and if you are one of those women, I hate you.

But the lava cake! (And the cheesecake, the berry cobbler, the crème brûlée, the key lime pie and the walnut turtle pie, all of which mysteriously ended up on our table accompanied by a bowl of chantilly.) You can keep your quintuple-chocolate-devil slab of death—à la Claim Jumper—where you're supposed to take one look at the size and simper and moan in your best imitation of Jenna Jameson. I'll keep the chocolate lava cake. And another. Really more of a chocolate soufflé, with its molten center and the five tubs of butter that gave up their lives for it, the lava cake is simple and direct. It's naked of frosting and not face-scrunchingly sweet. It's more earthy, more fats-based, more grown-up and real. It's for a palate that's sophisticated—like yours, as long as you're not one of those women, of course. You're not shoving a Ho Ho in your mouth, that's for goddamn sure.

Fleming's, 455 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-9633; also at 1300 Dove St., Ste. 105, Newport Beach, (949) 222-2223.

 
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