It's a potentially heavy crown, right—best brownie in the world? And I realize that I have not eaten all of the brownies in the world. But I've eaten a lot of them. And the one currently being served at Presidio is the best one this critic has ever eaten.
A story for some background: When I was in my early teens, my mother attended a luncheon at the home of her friend Akka Arneberg, whose husband is Norwegian shipping magnate Per Arneberg. The Arneberg's home back in Greenwich, Conn. was composed of a series of pink houses, "a Smurf village," my mom called them. Each was so uniquely and distinctively furnished and decorated that even the king of Norway stayed there when he came to the states.
Very much in keeping with the broader Arneberg aesthetic, at that luncheon, Akka served brownies cut into heart shapes and delicately dusted with powdered sugar. Due to a broken nose as a teenager that led to a lack of sense of smell, my mother does not have a sophisticated palate. But she recognized that those brownies were a pastry of significance. She brought home all the leftovers and my 14-year-old self was floored. In the decades since, we've talked reverently about "Akka brownies," a memory that looked like it would never be repeated.
Until I recently dined at Presidio, that is. I ordered a cup of melon crèmeux with toasted coriander cake, meringue and lemon-verbena ice cream. Getting a brownie, too, felt almost unforgivably boring. But then I tasted it. It was the Akka brownie.
Actually, it was two Akka brownies, both sandwiching and covered in bruléed marshmallow fluff. On the side, deeply chocolaty ice cream was studded with hazelnuts. But the brownies themselves were worthy of the most attention. Though the slabs held together with a light, almost meringue-like skin, the center melted like a substance somewhere between fudge, ganache and raw brownie batter. It was heavenly. And the $9 portion was so large that I finished about a third of the brownie on my first attempt, then grazed on it for the better part of a week. And it never lost that magical, melting texture and not-too-sweet dark chocolate flavor.
And I found something a few notches better than the brownie of my dreams.