Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chocolate Bar: Temptation Made Easy

On the edge of East 4th Street, Cleveland’s gastronomic Mecca, where Vivo once stood, the Chocolate Bar recently opened its doors. A franchise restaurant with another location in Buffalo, the name alone generated a certain buzz across town and peaked the interest of some friends who know a thing or two about the food industry.
Thus, on a chilly mid-January evening, after a delicious dinner at Greenhouse, the four of us headed to Chocolate Bar for decadence and discussion.

Walking in from the Euclid entrance (vs. the Arcade), we immediately noticed the counter, selling premium chocolates as well as t-shirts with clever chocolate expressions.

Also, while some of the previous tenant’s interiors seemed familiar, significant changes within the space, including different lighting, an elevated corner platform and a glass refrigerator showcasing an array of goodies, made it evident that someone new has arrived. Additionally, on a background screen, “Willy Wonka” (the remake) plays, sans sound. From our initial impression, we knew we crossed into a chocolate zone and couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy some delicacies to curb our cravings.

The quiet Monday evening provided seating flexibility and quick service. Our waitress arrived promptly and, from the get go, permeated a great energy: not only did she bring the men the custom drink they ordered without any hassle, but she also hammed it up with us, revealing a personality that fit well within a theme restaurant.
To be clear, Chocolate Bar features a full menu, including appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and main dishes. But, with its immediate name association, the four of us ordered the following five desserts: The Belgian Chocolate Pyramid ($6.95), “Belgian chocolate mousse with a hint of hazelnut praline covered in a shell of chocolate,” Frozen Hot Chocolate ($9.95) [pictured, bottom] “Made famous in NYC,” Kahlua Heath Bar Torte ($6.59) [pictured, center] “a smooth rich chocolate mousse with a hint of Kahlua, Heath bar and crushed cookie bottom,” Hot Fudge ($7.95) “Vanilla ice cream, homemade hot fudge, real whipped cream,” and an Alp’ Accino ($12.95) [pictured, top], a trademarked “Chocolate Bar original liquor milkshake.”

The mere anticipation of these gluttonous delights aroused an excitement within us, and anyone needing to lure in a potential mate should keep this sensation in mind. Regardless of one’s age group, Chocolate Bar is a foolproof destination for anyone in the early dating or relationship rekindling stages. With its divine menu of food options, dimmed atmosphere, swanky location and alcoholic ambrosial pourings – including over twenty distinct martini choices – it will spice up a mood, opening doors that might otherwise remain closed.

Thus, when our food arrived, we were more than ready to embrace the offerings. The generous alcohol of the Alp’ Accino, a heavenly child-like concoction, quickly reminded us that it’s very much a grown-up drink. Barring the over-indulgent portions of whipped cream on most of the desserts we ordered, the iced hot chocolate also resonated quite well with this group. The other three desserts, while all in wonderful presentation and in various degrees of texture, felt almost interchangeable. As one of my friends stated, “Everything ends on the same note.” Another friend strongly recommended a comeback visit, to try different menu items, for better overall restaurant assessment.

Completely unplanned, as life usually happens, three days later, an hour after receiving a text from a Chicago friend in town on business, I joined him and his crew of architects at Lola’s, where the gentlemen wrapped up their dinner. Afterwards two of the architects, whom I’ve both known for over twenty years, and I headed north, back to Chocolate Bar. In the midst of a post-game crowd, with downtown Cleveland alive with energy, the three of us entered what felt like a completely different venue. Suddenly, Chocolate Bar was packed. Specifically, the bar was packed with patrons and the overall vibe had a certain mojo going.
Our waiter, friendly, warm and quick, brought out our orders: Dark Hot Chocolate ($5.95), Roarin’ Root Beer Float ($5.95) with bourbon ($2.50) and an appetizer – Steak Crostini ($9.95), “grilled steak with garlic baguette, provolone, caramelized onions and parsley oil.” The crostini – juicy and full of flavor – tasted scrumptious, even at 11:15PM, and the gentlemen were quite pleased with their drinks.

To truly have a happy and memorable experience at Chocolate Bar, one thing to keep in mind when ordering your desserts is which school of chocolate you fall into: sugar or cocoa. If the former, you will love the heavy portions of whipped cream and many of the beautiful and quite sweet desserts. If the latter, look for items marked using dark chocolate, hold the whipped cream and lean towards items that use branded ingredients in the recipe – flavors that you already know.

Overall, an experience at Chocolate Bar lifts the spirits and taps into a sensual subconscious. The quick and friendly service, wide menu of options and beautiful presentation stage this new concept spot as an excellent extension of East 4th Street. So give Chocolate Bar a try. Temptation awaits you.

For hours and additional menu info, visit

Reprinted with permission from

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