Cafe Intermezzo: Pumpkin- praline cheesecake.It feels good to walk into Cafe Intermezzo's dark, European atmophere, if only to be reminded that Starbucks hasn't yet taken over the world. Skip the salads and sandwiches at this venerable first-date coffeehouse and go straight to dessert and coffee. The dense, New York-style pumpkin-praline cheesecake ($5.95) has a true pumpkin flavor that gets you in the holiday mood. For those of you on a liquid diet, try the cappuccino brio ($3.50): Flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, almond oil and orange extract, it's an aromatic dessert in a cup. 1845 Peachtree Road, 404-355-0411.
Floataway Cafe: African squash flan. It's almost a cliche now that menus at fine dining restaurants flow with the seasons, but when it's done right, as it is at Floataway Cafe, the concept feels new all over again. On a recent night, we sighed at meal's end over the African squash flan ($7), a funky sounding concoction that was subtly sweet and silken on the tongue. Rustic apple crostata ($7.50) arrived scorching hot with cardamom-scented ice cream melting seductively into its crevices. Menu items are always changing, so keep an open mind. It's hard to go wrong here. 1123 Zonolite Road, 404-892-1414, www.starprovisions.com.
Four Seasons Park 75 Lounge: Chocolate buffet. The Chocolate Buffet ($15) at the Four Seasons offers an intense all-you-can-eat chocolate extravaganza: White chocolate and blood-orange mousse, chocolate coffee toffee demi cakes and white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake barely scratch the surface of offerings. Spotty but well-intentioned service left us without water, but in possession of individual chocolate brownie souffles topped with warm, oozy chocolate sauce. Thumpin', bumpin' music from the Savannah Room and smoke from the nearby bar made the atmosphere a bit more raucous than we'd expect from this staid hotel. Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m.-midnight through the fall and winter. Full bar. 75 14th St. 404-881-9898. www.fourseasons.com/atlanta/.
Greenwood's: Pumpkin pie. On a typical night at Greenwood's, when hungry hordes crowd this converted bungalow's foyer and frisky servers swerve through the throng carrying heaping plates of soulful grub, it's often an ardent glance toward the restaurant's pie rack that keeps ravenous diners-to-be patient. One humungous slice ($3.95) -- each a quarter of a pie -- is enough to feed a table of four, but everyone usually wants a piece (and a to-go box) for themselves. Bill Greenwood's zesty, custardy pumpkin pie has made its annual appearance on the menu, and leftovers of the towering apple pie, redolent with cinnamon, taste mighty good for breakfast this time of year. 1087 Green St., Roswell. 770-992-5383.
Halo Lounge: Valrhona chocolate smores. Chef Stephen Leeds' Campfire Smores Hobbie Kit ($7) brings out the kid in the haute crowd at Halo. A flaming sterno in a clay hibachi offers the heat for toasting your skewered marshmallows. Once you get things to your gooey liking (hey, we even lit ours on fire), dunk it in the melted Valrhona chocolate and serve on a graham cracker. It's just like those campfire days except you're warm, there are no clothes hangers and you can get a cognac. 817 W. Peachtree St., Suite E-100. 404-962-7333. www.halolounge.com.
La Churreria: Peinatas and ponquecitos.
Holidays, schmolidays. Some of us greet the onslaught of this festive season with the same enthusiasm with which we greet the flu. If you're in that category, turn your car north and indulge in some inexpensive treats at La Churreria -- there's not a red or green sprinkle in sight. Favorite goodies on display at this Colombian bakery include peinatas, conical pastries filled with sweet cheese ($1), and roscon, yeast bread sprinkled with sugar and filled with caramel ($2.50). It's a shame they don't shape the tasty gingerbread cookies -- called ponquecitos ($.70) -- in the form of men, so we could take out our holiday frustrations on them by biting their little heads off. 5730 Buford Highway, Norcross, 678-646-0421.
Mondo: Apple spice cake with butterscotch frosting. Grab a newspaper or magazine off the rack at Mondo, a snazzy little spot in the Westside's hip strip off Howell Mill Road, and take a gander at the dessert case. Hidden among cookies and eclairs are some festive treats, including an apple spice cake ($3.50) gilded with caramelized butterscotch frosting that gives Krispy Kreme glaze some confectionary competition. The obliging folks behind the counter are happy to heat the cake up for you. If you're jonesing for just a nibble, try one of the scrumptious fig newtons (75 cents a piece). 750 Huff St., 404-603-9995
Roman Lily Cafe: Banana bread. The infamous banana bread concoction ($5.50) at Roman Lily is a gussied-up dessert of comforting proportions. Though available year-round, it suits the cooler months best: thick, warm slices of moist bread are topped with caramelized bananas, a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream and drizzles of caramel. Go it alone, or get into the spirit and share. 668 Highland Ave., 404-653-1155.
With contributions from Jerry Portwood and Jane Catoe.
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