Beakers, test tubes, and whimsical glass objects are scattered throughout the little space. Aromatic liquids boil and gurgle in the back corner. I’m in a lab, but I’m not here for class. I’m here to eat.
Chocolate Lab, a chemistry lab in a sense, develops decadent, edible concoctions. I was always a periodic table geek but let’s be real, this was my kind of science. Edible science. Low, winter light pours through the large windows, warming the corner restaurant, which is owned by the infamous San Francisco chocolate makers, Recchiuti. The restaurant is a mix of savory and sweet; a mix of dinner and dessert. For their sweet, they have burnt caramel ice cream that is topped with semi-sweet chocolate sauce. It is so devilishly good that I have contemplated finishing the tiny ice-cream-filled beaker off with a straw. They also have a hot chocolate that is incomparable to anything I have ever had. They melt semi-sweet dark chocolate in hot water (milk dilutes the flavor of the chocolate) creating a drinking chocolate that is so simple and pure. Served in a tiny ceramic cup and topped with a few homemade, pillowy marshmallows, it’s exactly what I envision a mouthful of Willy Wonka’s chocolate river tasting like.
While everything sweet at Chocolate Lab is fabulous, the savory items are right on par as well. The kitchen is small and compact on the side of the space with a few burners, convection ovens, and stand-up refrigerators. For lunch, the open faced sandwiches are all meticulously assembled and cut into bite sized pieces. A collection of wonderfully, colorful winter squashes and zucchini make up the vegetable tartine sandwich. This item is so spot on that even my carnivorous man craves this veggie sandwich.
For me, a late dinner at Chocolate Lab is the perfect way to add that cherry on top of a great weekend. A limited selection of items and specials make up the dinner menu but there is something refreshing about a small, perfectly executed menu. Anything you order is proven to be good. Proving the culinary excellence of the Chocolate Lab, my mom, a health queen and anti-dessert diner, ordered the triple scoop ice cream sundae to finish off our late night dinner. She finished the whole thing. Chocolate Lab is one of those places that can quickly become a guilty pleasure. But with atmosphere and food that good, there is no need to feel guilty.