There we were, my pal and I, happily fat after another great lunch at the Alley. He had an Alley Burger, gushing with Thousand Island dressing; I had the prime rib sammy, its horseradish aioli kicking me awake, its thin strips of beef as rich as carpaccio. We had a couple of drinks in us, and now we wanted dessert. The waitress went through the day's specials: chocolate cake, ice cream, apple dumplings . . .
“Wait, apple dumplings are still around?” I slurred to my friend. “We gotta try them—that's straight-up OLD SCHOOL.”
Not only was the dessert resolutely old school, but it was also spectacular in its simplicity: a caramel reduction, a small flurry of powdered sugar, and the dumplings themselves—immaculately flaky, with crunchy apples inside and a side of vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate syrup waiting to crown it. It's only an occasional special at the Alley, so you know what to do: Order it until it becomes a regular item, damn it!
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The Alley, 4501 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 646-9126; thealleynewportbeach.com.