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Dining loot: NYC's best free after-dinner treats

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pic Photo Credit: Ryan Thatcher

In the land of $20 burgers and $17 martinis, scoring a deal in this city isn’t easy.
Believe it or not, some restaurants are mastering the art of surprise by giving their patrons parting gifts — for free. Most are sweet treats to enjoy post-dinner.
Who said you can’t get anything for free these days?

Saltwater taffy at Ditch Plains
In keeping with its seafood focus, Ditch Plain gives away saltwater taffy to its patrons. The rainbow-colored candies come in a glass along with the check, which can make even the most jaded diner feel like a kid on a seaside vacation.
29 Bedford St.,
212-633-0202;
100 W.82nd St.,
212-362-4815 

Blueberry poppy seed crumb cake at Recette
Recette pastry chef Christina Lee creates a seasonal-inspired dessert for diners lucky enough to score a reservation at the restaurant’s tastings with executive chef Jesse Schenker on Mondays. This month, diners get to take home a blueberry poppy seed crumb cake made with local fruit.
328 W.12th St.,
212-414-3000 

Granola at Eleven Madison Park
Granola goes upscale? Only at Eleven Madison Park would a jar of the crunchy snack taste decadently good, with just the right amount of sweetness. It’s not surprising the restaurant would give diners 16 ounces’ worth after dinner, since chef Daniel Humm often puts the ingredient in his savory foods and says it energizes him for morning workouts.
11 Madison Ave.,
212-889-0905

Chocolate pudding at the Mermaid Inn
The Mermaid Inn doesn’t have a dessert menu, but the restaurant makes up for it with the luscious complimentary chocolate pudding that comes in a demitasse with a swirl of whipped cream. Made fresh daily from the restaurant’s special recipe, the pudding is served with a little toy “fortune fish” — a fun source of after-dinner conversation.
96 Second Ave.,
212-674-5870;
568 Amsterdam Ave.,
212-799-7400 

Cookies at the Redhead
It’s the Southern-influenced menu and casual pub vibe that draw crowds at this jumping East Village joint, but it’s the soft, individually bagged cookies doled out with each check that are the real treat. The Redhead rotates among its list of 30 homemade varieties, including bourbon-soaked raisin oatmeal, chocolate chip and banana, and double espresso with sea salt.
349 E. 13th St.,
212-533-6212 

Meringues at Benoit Bistro
Meringues were once called the forgotten cookies, as they can be cooked in a cooling oven, but it would be difficult for diners to overlook the pink, almond-sprinkled meringues bagged at Benoit.
60 W. 55th St.,
646-943-7373 

Mini coffee cake at Gramercy Tavern
Patrons at Gramercy Tavern get to remember their meal with a fluffy muffin-sized coffee cake — made with the same culinary flair as the rest of the complex desserts from pastry chef Nancy Olson — after eating lunch or dinner in the main dining room.
42 E. 20th St.,
212-477-0777  

 

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