Cakes weren’t in the original game plan for Brothers and Sisters pastry chef Pichet Ong. He was intending a lineup of classic hotel desserts to play off the restaurant’s setting, in the lobby of Adams Morgan’s Line hotel. But four days before the place opened, executive chef Erik Bruner-Yang got another idea—what if they focused on cakes instead? That quickly, one of Washington’s most impressive dessert menus was born. Currently, eight elaborate cakes are on offer—here’s what goes into our favorite, Ong’s showstopping rendition of a cheesecake known as the Mykonos.
• The swooping cake consists of three layers on a house-made graham-cracker crust. The first is a soufflé cheesecake, “almost like the kind you’d find in Japan,” Ong says. It’s made with buttermilk and cream cheese and is steam-baked. Then Ong sets a chiffon-like cake on top of that. It’s finished with a mousse tangy with goat cheese and crème fraîche and sculpted by hand into its Hershey’s Kiss–like shape.
• The place doesn’t tout it—“It might seem like we’re really trying hard,” Ong says—but the cake, like many of his creations, is gluten-free and made with brown-rice flour and cornstarch. (Some of his desserts are vegan, too.) The rice flour gives the cheesecake a touch of chewiness. “If you ever go to those Asian bakeries in New York or Korean ones in Falls Church, there are some cakes that are strangely elastic,” Ong says. “That’s the rice flour—Asia loves that texture.”
• What’s with the name? “I spent nine days last summer with my boyfriend in Greece,” Ong says. “Every island we went to had windmills that look like this cake.” His original version had Greek yogurt, but it came out too dry, so he swapped in goat cheese.
This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of Washingtonian.