Aside from the name, I knew very little about Hot Chocolate, a Bucktown restaurant that has graced Damen Avenue for 7 years. I didn’t expect to be so taken with the comfortable atmosphere, contemporary cuisine, and of course, the desserts. With pastry chef and James Beard Award Winner Mindy Segal behind the operation, I should have known it was going to be great.
With the exposed kitchen, wood bar spanning the restaurant, and small space, the entire vibe was relaxed and cozy…kind of like a big mug of hot chocolate. I visited the restaurant for dinner, but it’s also open for brunch, lunch, and dessert. I love a place that not only allows you to come in for dessert only, but encourages it as well.
We started with the House-crafted Soft Pretzel with pepper jack cheese sauce. This certainly put any other soft pretzel I’ve ever had to shame.
Also to start, my friends ordered the Beets, roasted in olive oil and citrus, with cucumber, sour cream, and dill salad with caraway crackers. I’m not a fan of beets, but the cucumbers were crunchy and well-seasoned.
For dinner, my friend and I shared the fish special, which was Trout with black lentils, and pea and mint puree, as well as the Cheeseburger with aged cheddar and house-made pickles. My other friend ordered the Eggplant Parm with smoked mozzarella. The eggplant wasn’t breaded or fried, and it was delicious.
For dessert, we ordered the Medium Hot Chocolate, which was thick, rich and creamy. We also got the Chocolate Souffle with salted caramel ice cream, which came warm and fresh.