Sweet need not be full of sin


Racing through pasta or pork chops just to get to the chocolate torte is understandable now that pastry chefs tempt diners with all manner of exotic desserts. Fancy some basil-coconut macaroons or roasted apricots with litchi sauce and ginger ice cream? Inventive and delicious as high-concept sweets might be, sometimes you don't want to be challenged during the final course. All you really want is a couple of good cookies, perhaps even with a (gasp!) gauche glass of milk. Check out this trio of just-right cookie plates.

Caffe Mingo

At Caffe Mingo, you can have your cookies and your cake and custard, too. The attractive dolci assortiti includes a thimbleful of America's favorite dessert, crme bržlŽe (with berries), biscotti that won't break your teeth and dainty petit fours. The dessert easily feeds two or three diners, delivering a sweet taste instead of a direct hit to the waistline.

807 N.W. 21st Ave., 503-226-4646

Heathman Restaurant and Bar

You don't have to spend big bucks on a lavish meal to take a bite of the Heathman Restaurant. Swing by the lounge anytime after 2 p.m. daily for a nibble off the bar menu or the new cheese list, or for dessert and a drink. The cookie platter is a generous array of four pairs of healthy-sized confections. Since there's two of everything, you can share dessert without fear that your companion will devour more than his share. The best of the bunch are chocolate wafer discs and chewy, old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies. Spongy macaroons the size of melon balls have great texture, even if they are a bit on the toothache side of sweet. The meringue sandwich cookie with firm chocolate filling pales next to its mates.

1001 S.W. Broadway, 503-241-4100

Second Story Bistro

From sourdough French toast to grilled banana bread, sweets are what Second Story Bistro does really well. No matter what varieties appear in Second Story's changing selection of cookies, it's a given that they will be fresh from the oven Ñ their moistness is the giveaway. And if you don't want to ask for that glass of milk, you can add homemade ice cream in flavors such as pistachio or vanilla bean for just $1.

208 N.W. Couch St., 503-827-5113