The sundaes at Peter Luger in Brooklyn and Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper West Side are Truly Great. At Luger, the whipped cream is absurdly thick and rich and called "schlag," and who I am to not love something so delicious with such a wonderful name? There is an onslaught of this schlag on the Peter Luger sundae, and it's amazing and barbaric in proportion and presentation. On the other hand, the whipped cream at Cafe Luxembourg is not quite as thick; it surrounds the ice cream in elegant and careful layers that have been dispensed from a ridged pastry tube.
Truly Great sundaes are one thing, but what about the rest? As of now, I am not sure if there is such a thing as a horrible sundae, but certainly there are grades of deliciousness. Consider two sundaes I've recently consumed:
Saturday, March 31, 2012, Van Leeuwen. I ordered my sundae with a scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of palm sugar. The ice creams were good, but the chocolate sauce was not sufficiently flavorful, nor procured in ample quantities. The whipped cream was definitely not memorable. Certainly this was a fairly decent sundae, but not great.
Friday, April 6, 2012, Eat n' Park, a venerable Pittsburgh tradition, inspired by the excellence of the golden age of diners and drive-thrus. I ordered the Turtle Sundae, and what an excellent decision that turned out to be! My ice cream was slathered in caramel sauce and peanuts. The whipped cream was whipped topping, as opposed to homemade whipped cream. Yet the sweet and crunchy richness of the caramel and peanuts made up for the mediocre cream. Indeed, here was an example of a worthy sundae - not Truly Great, mind you - that nominally passed in the cream department but made up for it in the sauce and toppings department.
Peter Luger - Truly Great
Cafe Luxembourg - Truly Great
Eat n' Park - Excellent and Delightful
Van Leeuwen - Decent enough but unremarkable