With the wine bar trend in full escalation (Proof, Veritas, Vinoteca, Cork, Enology, etc.), it appears we may now be heading into a dessert bar phase. While artisan chocolate cafes like ACKC and bakery empires like Cakelove provide the basics, Co Co. Sala pushes the sweet stuff into high art. If only it weren’t so high octave… it’s an intimate, sexy space but it isn’t exactly conducive to whispering sweet nothings. Upon entering, I spied a white feather boa draped behind a gaggle of celebrating women at the bar. As their decibel level threatened my mellow mood, I wondered, “does chocolate bar = screeching estrogen?”
But restaurants can’t completely control their clientele. If you worship at the altar of cacao, Co Co. Sala deserves a taste. Just be prepared for a bit of a scene. And after knocking back a “Disia” – their lychee rose cocktail that tastes like Aphrodite’s elixir – I was mellow again and ready to give an entire chocolate dinner a try.
If the idea of an entire meal of chocolate is a bit daunting, even for dessert, take heart. Co Co. Sala also features small bites, and though our server suggested “three or four” to start, two each was quite sufficient. I tried the Moroccan swordfish, which turned out to be a spicy little sandwich with fennel and pecorino. The manchego and arugula salad (pressed into a square with nuts and fruits) was refreshingly peppery, if a bit overdressed. Both provided a good complement to the chocolate feast that would follow.
Faced with choices of chocolate courses that aim to provide a “monde du chocolat” (again, very girly, all this), I went with the Xocolatyl Aztec Experience, figuring as I’m not really a sweet tooth kind of girl, anything that mixes sugar and spice is bound to please me. From first – churros with cinnamon cream and dulce de leche dip – to second – chocolate souffle with fiery chocolate center and kahlua soother – and third – chocolate infused horchata with Mexican wedding cookie – all were beautifully presented. There was a constant, cooing chorus as people eyed each other’s plates and craned their necks at other tables. Every course was an interesting attempt to bring out different aspects of chocolate.
Now, if you’re already mixing chili powder into your hot chocolate and dusting the rim of your mug with salt, ok, you may think the combinations of the Xocolatyl a bit pedestrian. Personally I would’ve preferred more of an effort to explore chocolate’s range of bitter to sweet. But who cares?! It’s chocolate!! It’s delicious!! I definitely want to return to try out the Indian course, or the brunch (Wasabi Bloody Mary? Forget the chocolate! ok, maybe the French Toast S’mores. My god, maybe I do have a sweet tooth after all…)
Later in the evening, as we were slowly surrounded by canoodling couples, the estrogen party at the bar was still going strong, complete with woman breastfeeding baby. I suppose that if for some, chocolate = life, this was perfectly natural. For me, it was disconcerting. But, I settled back into my lychee-rose-hazed-chocolate-endorphin high and let it go.