An Off Day? (Chocolate - Santa Cruz, CA)

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm not really sure if this is a fair review. You see, this restaurant is known for being so bohemian, anti-establishment chic with great food, but today it seemed lacking. With the graduations going on, every senior is showing about 5 or more visiting relatives or friends around downtown Santa Cruz, so part of the population quintuples over night as thousands of visitors flood the tiny city.

Our reservation was at four o'clock and the place was packed solid. Only two wait staff were on hand, and the kitchen staff wasn't able to keep up. The food lacked any real depth or great flavor, and service was slow, taking 40 minutes for appetizers to arrive. The poor girls were in the weeds, and the stress was on their faces. So I can;t really blame them, but at the same time, shouldn't they be prepared for this event that occurs year after year after year? The hotels certainly know to plan ahead with jacked rates, the restaurants and cafes should know to have some extra help on.

So on to the food. Chocolate is a place that totes its local, organic, cruelty free and creative food. It's known for it's chocolate desserts, of which seem few and too complicated, and only one non-dessert menu item that contains chocolate in the form of a mole' sauce.

My brother ordered a chocolate Italian soda which tasted like a tootsie roll and was yummy. Except they served it using water, not soda water, which kinda is the only ingredient to an Italian soda aside from flavoring.

The mole sauce is quite tasty I must admit. Thick, sweet, and a bit bitter, it paired well with the chicken.

The appetizer, after it finally arrived, was good. It was a cheese and artichoke heart dip thingy. Nothing fantastic, but I'm not complaining. It just didn't possess that seemingly explosive flavor i have come to expect from the Italian cheeses used. Plus, it was served with bread, and while that was fine, we had already gone through many baskets of the stuff and a lot of water before it arrived.

I had a mushroom soup with a Mediterranean salad. The salad was laden with fresh assorted greens, a lemony dressing, pistachios, kalamatas, Parmesan, and artichoke hearts. Totally yummy, exactly what a salad should be. Best part of the meal by far, for it's freshness and flavors. The muted taste of the pistachios was a pleasant change from the everyday nuts you usually find in a salad.

The soup however was miserable little thing that needed to be put out of it's tasteless misery. It was like eating mushrooms in hot water. I know I saw other ingredients, but they just didn't have any fortitude in them to stand out. The chicken soup however, was mighty tasty.

Rob had some Italian portobello mushroom thing with cheese that he deemed eatable, but nothing we haven't made ourselves and wished he had ordered something else.

We didn't have any dessert, as we simply didn't have time as Rob and I had to leave, so I'll leave that to the adventurous eaters out there. Seemed to consist of overbearing truffles and a few gregarious cakes you find at any chocolate store. They did have a peach pie advertised with a picture of Bush called Im-Peach-Ment Pie, which I thought was clever (it is Santa Cruz).

Overall, give it a shot, you might like it. Salads are tops here and the chicken soup is great, so they have a good lunch set for ya'. Like I said, I think I just went on their off day.

1522 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


  1. An Italian soda with water? Hmmmmm....
    This all sounds good. Hopefully if you go back you'll have a 5 star experience!

  2. If you're in the Santa Cruz area, you're a foodie, and you want to have a wonderful meal, go to Theo's. The chef trained with Alice Waters (among others) and you can't get a better meal for the price anywhere. I'm going to tonight and fully intend to have the Spice Roasted Wild Boar. There are always good vegetarian options and they grow much of their own produce on site (beautiful garden to wander in with a champagne cocktail before dinner too).

  3. Annony - Thanks a ton for the suggestion! I'll eb sure to check it out next time I see my brother!

  4. As a former Banana Slug (as are my 2 brothers, 2 sisters, mom and now my nephew!) I loved your stuff on Santa Cruz. My folks and brother still live in the area. For great seafood, check our Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing. There's fabulous Mexican food in Watsonville, like Tepa Sahuayo. For casual Asian, I love Charlie Hong Kong's and Walnut St. Cafe for breakfast.


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