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Starters: Chocolate Is the New Black, License to Split at Sweet Life

“WARNING: Ice cream may melt,” warns the takeout menu at Sweet Life Dessert Experience, a new dessert and coffee bar in Tonawanda.

Takeout orders should be done in person, it continues, lest you call ahead only to find your waiting sundae in a puddle.

You needn’t worry. These desserts don’t linger for long.

A sit-down restaurant, Sweet Life is no Friendly’s—it looks unlike anything you’ll see opening around town.

Inside Sweet Life Dessert Experience, a new dessert bar in Tonawanda. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to the News)

Owner Alisha Kandola says she was going for a contemporary “Alice in Wonderland” theme, and a fantasy tea room it is, with large booths and bright carpeting, a huge forest mural on one wall, an oversized mirror on another, and a sprinkling of whimsical tea sets, neon signs and mod lights. A long service window lets you watch the sundae assembly, crepe griddle and waffle irons.

The extensive menu features sweet French crepes ($13) and Belgian waffles ($14) with or without ice cream, all made in-house daily; cakes with fruit, sauces or ice cream ($7-$11.50); house-made brownies and cookies ($8.50), ice cream sundaes, shakes, floats, smoothies and a list of hot or cold coffee and tea drinks. Pints of basic ice cream flavors ($6) are available in a case by the door.

Chocolate is The New Black, a waffle and ice cream creation at Sweet Life Dessert Experience.(Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to the News)

The dishes are as fancifully named as the décor. You can get a “Chocolate is The New Black” crepe served with Sweet Life’s Chocolat Chocolat ice cream, fresh strawberries, Belgian milk chocolate buttons and a Belgian chocolate sauce. The “First Draft Pick” brownie comes with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, milk chocolate sauce and a hazelnut-praline “croquant” (crisp).

“License to Split” ($10.50) is, you guessed it, a classic banana sundae, and the timely “Royal Wedding” ($14) is a gluten-free waffle with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, banana and strawberry coulis. All are large enough to split between several people, or two with sweet teeth.

Toppings ($2-$2.50) include hazelnut spread and several Belgian chocolate sauces, creme anglaise, fresh fruit and other popular favorites, from whipped cream and brownie pieces to candies, cinnamon streusel and the hazelnut crisp ($2).

New York cheesecake with strawberry sauce at Sweet Life Dessert Experience. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to the News)

For the lactose averse, there are dairy-free fruit smoothies ($7), and a gluten-free menu features a flourless chocolate cake ($7-$11.50), sundaes ($8.75-$10) and three types of waffles with ice cream ($14). A “do-it-yourself” section offers ice cream, waffles or crepes in sundaes or scoops.

It was (still) unseasonably cold when we visited, so I went with the cake-and-coffee combo ($8.50), a cup of hot yet unremarkable house brew and a piece of my favorite, New York cheesecake. While it and the other cakes and apple pie on display aren’t made in-house, my creamy slice disappeared readily, helped by a generous drizzle of strawberry sauce (the menu did not mention what sauce I’d receive).

My husband and our little guy shared a kid’s scoop of Salted Crack Caramel ($5.50): salted caramel ice cream, served in a parfait glass and blended with crushed chocolate-covered pretzels. The ice cream had that creamy sweet-and-salty combo down, although the pretzels had gone a bit soft.

Sweet Life Dessert Experience has opened on Niagara Falls Boulevard. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to the News)

The staff was pleasant and helpful, and with pop music in the air and several families and couples dining with us, it was a cheerful place for slowing down and treating ourselves during a hectic weekend.

So sure, heed the warnings on a hot, melty day, but the desserts at Sweet Life probably won’t make it home, no matter what the weather.

INFO: Sweet Life Dessert Experience, 1750 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda. Phone: 235-8511. Hours: 2 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday.

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