The Instagram Thing is an occasional column spotlighting things you’ll want to Instagram. Our previous editions highlighted the ten-foot snake topiary at the Standard East Village, the pegasus at Serendipity3 the beef tartare at Little Mad, the bicycles at GupShup and the giant moose at Spaghetti Tavern.
Questions surrounding what happens when you give a mouse a cookie have been swirling for decades, but until now, no one has dared explore what might occur if you gave a mouse a cheesecake and plated it in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Last December, the innovators at Vestry, apparently unsatisfied with their already appealing cheesecake, fashioned after a wedge of Swiss to trompe-l'œil effect, sought to punctuate the confectionary trick. While they could have crafted any traditional cheese accoutrements–whole fruit, compote, cured meat or even more cheese–they went bolder, weirder and . . . squeakier. They put a mouse on it!
Yes, Vestry’s photogenic cheesecake is accompanied by a chutney mouse. It’s formed from honeycrisp apples, fresh ginger, cinnamon and star anise. Its ears are hazelnuts and its tail is an egg noodle. Its size and scale are eerily realistic and, I would have thought, alarming to the average person who tries to avoid this variety of nature’s creatures.
Social media, however, has proven me wrong, as plenty of posts seem to celebrate the slightly unsettling sweet treat. Guests love this little critter, even as it's poised to nab a nibble of the $15 dessert.
“People have a wide range of reactions to how realistic it is,” restaurant reps relayed in an email. “Some are absolutely delighted by it, and some are almost a bit shocked! People only have opted out entirely due to allergies or aversions, but never because of the aesthetic.”
I’ve seen a few different arrangements of what’s listed as “homemade cheesecake; honeycrisp apple” on Vestry’s menu but what I like to think of as “Cheesecake with Mouse,” as though it were on view at Art Basel. Its relative cuteness is measured in centimeters. Placed just a bit too far from the cake and it looks almost like something unknown flickering in the corner of your eye. Too close and it’s even more unnerving. But when its position splits the difference and it’s in good light I’m kind of like, ‘OK, sure.’
As an Instagram thing, Cheesecake with Mouse has myriad photo pose-ibilities. One could pantomime fright, affect bravery in the face of the mini mammal or even engage in a little anthropomorphizing and make it your friend. Vestry, in fact, also has a Mallomar on its menu, so you can give this mouse a cookie and eat it too.