Before this all picked up, we had a lovely evening in Gurnee at The Chocolate Sanctuary sampling and sipping our way through their winter menu.
We started with chocolate-kissed cocktails, which was basically dessert before dinner.
Next up, we tried an interesting appetizer of chicken and goat cheese wrapped in cocoa-candied bacon. It was a wonderful combo of creamy and crispy, tart and sweet.
My favorite offering in the appetizer course was the cocoa-spiced butternut squash soup. It was slightly smokey and very creamy, and the topping was a crunchy counterpoint.
As for the entree, the first item we sampled was cocoa pan-seared Chilean sea bass, which was topped with a plantain. It was very tender and cooked to perfection.
But man, this ribeye was stellar. It's grassfed beef topped with herbed butter and served with brussel sprouts. The meat was tender and flavorful.
I don't know how, but we somehow managed to leave room for dessert. I'm so glad we did, because it was stellar (don't worry, we shared). There was no elegant way to take this chocolate-filled beignet down, but it was worth it. The exterior was flakey and light, whereas the chocolate inside was creamy and decadent. It's served with a creme anglaise, which I never made it to because it was rich enough on its own.
The banana tower was so massive that it had to be overturned and sliced the long ways so we could tackle what was inside. It had caramel gelato, chocolate creme diplomat and brandy-caramelized bananas. It was a solid dessert and super impressive on the plate.
The cake with a molten center was amazing.
But check out the presentation on this one - that dry ice is super classy. I walked away from this meal feeling like I could have just come for dessert and been very happy about my life decisions.
Big thanks to The Chocolate Sanctuary for the invite! Christmas is best celebrated with chocolate, after all.