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Hot Chocolate Restaurant

Hot Chocolate Restaurant
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  • Post #61 - May 10th, 2010, 3:41 pm
    Post #61 - May 10th, 2010, 3:41 pm Post #61 - May 10th, 2010, 3:41 pm
    There hasn't been much on Hot Chocolate lately, but yesterday, the better half and I were there, and had a wonderful, beautifully prepared meal.

    We each had a salad, mine featuring locally sourced Pork Belly, and hers featuring pickled sunchokes, in an apricot vinaigrette.

    Both were excellent.

    We shared a main course, a beautiful pan roasted Gunthorp farms duck breast, served with duck confit, roasted sunchokes, and the best damn grits I have ever tasted. And frankly, the duck was as good as we've had since Trio closed.

    Desserts were up to Chef Segal's exacting standard, and service was quite good, given the house was nearly full.

    I keep reading disparaging comments about Hot Chocolate, but in four or five visits over the past three years, I've never had a substandard meal, and the cooking is often inspired. So they will keep my business, and I really think some LTH'ers should give them another shot.
  • Post #62 - May 13th, 2010, 7:25 am
    Post #62 - May 13th, 2010, 7:25 am Post #62 - May 13th, 2010, 7:25 am
    rfleisch1 wrote:We shared a main course, a beautiful pan roasted Gunthorp farms duck breast, served with duck confit, roasted sunchokes, and the best damn grits I have ever tasted.


    I had this dish last night, and it was, indeed, very, very good. The duck breast was plump and seemed to melt in my mouth. The sunchokes, grits and citrusy-Sichuan jus were a brilliant combination. It was also plated very elegantly.

    The food at Hot Chocolate reminds me a lot of the food at Sweets & Savories. I really enjoy the latter, but I often find it heavy handed. I wish I had taken a photo of the duck last night. Overall, it was refined, understated and lovely, and it looked that way. It brought to mind a dish I had recently at Sweets & Savories, a pork tenderloin with corn pudding and a pomegranate sauce, which looked and in some ways tasted the exact opposite--overdone and almost obscene:

    Image

    Hot Chocolate is worth a visit for the current duck preparation alone. That said, I'm still not a fan of the place. The decor grates on me. The tables (the two-tops, anyway) are too close together. Everything is priced $2-3 more than it should be. Last night, I asked for a dark and boozy cocktail, and I got a Manhattan (insufficiently strained) with crushed ice and five Maraschino cherries--easily one of the worst cocktails I've had in all my life.

    I do like the open kitchen though.
  • Post #63 - October 6th, 2010, 6:13 pm
    Post #63 - October 6th, 2010, 6:13 pm Post #63 - October 6th, 2010, 6:13 pm
    I visited Hot Chocolate on Saturday, for the first time. I was very impressed, we had mussels w/ PBR for an app. I wanted the duck but got talked into the lamb by my server, it was, as promised, excellent! It was served with chantrelle mushroom risotto and melted swiss chard, the lamb was cooked perfectly and the sides were perfect. The BF had the burger and proclaimed it "as good or better than Kumas" I tried a bite and thought it was pretty damn good!

    I was tempted to eat all my entree but in the back of my mind I knew dessert was on the horizon, we ordered the half and half (half dark hot chocolate half espresso) and the chocolate #1. The half and half was more memorable than the chocolate #1 but both were above average to say the least.

    I would definitely go back. In fact, we may go there on a double date this weekend.
    "Why, then the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open."
    William Shakespeare
  • Post #64 - August 21st, 2011, 1:57 pm
    Post #64 - August 21st, 2011, 1:57 pm Post #64 - August 21st, 2011, 1:57 pm
    My wife and I tried Hot Chocolate for brunch today. We arrived a few minutes after 10 A and were seated promptly. By the time we finished (10:45ish), the restaurant was full.

    The brioche french toast with apricots and cream was fabulous. My wife said great things about the breakfast sandwich. The service was very good. We'd prefer a little bit more room between the two-tops that line the wall. We didn't really need to hear everything the folks at the next table

    Definitely a good Bucktown brunch destination. We look forward to trying dinner and dessert.

    -jbn
  • Post #65 - August 21st, 2011, 4:37 pm
    Post #65 - August 21st, 2011, 4:37 pm Post #65 - August 21st, 2011, 4:37 pm
    Hot Chocolate went into my doghouse yesterday by A) offering a very good burger B) being located nearby when I got a hankering for a burger and C) not serving the burger just shy of noon due to brunch-only menu. And no, mr. Waiter, if we want a burger, it is not acceptable to offer me ham and eggs minus the eggs. Then I called Birchwood Kitchen, who also serves a good burger, to learn that they only serve burgers after 5 PM, Tues-Fri.

    It's noon on a Saturday people? Why can't I get a pub style burger in Wicker Park/Brunchtown? (Just saw the Bristol offers one), but I was so TO'd at brunch menus at that point that I didn't even bother to check).

    Korean BBQ Beef at Belly Shack made for a fine fill-in.

    [/brunchrant]
  • Post #66 - August 21st, 2011, 4:59 pm
    Post #66 - August 21st, 2011, 4:59 pm Post #66 - August 21st, 2011, 4:59 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:Hot Chocolate went into my doghouse yesterday by A) offering a very good burger B) being located nearby when I got a hankering for a burger and C) not serving the burger just shy of noon due to brunch-only menu. And no, mr. Waiter, if we want a burger, it is not acceptable to offer me ham and eggs minus the eggs. Then I called Birchwood Kitchen, who also serves a good burger, to learn that they only serve burgers after 5 PM, Tues-Fri.

    It's noon on a Saturday people? Why can't I get a pub style burger in Wicker Park/Brunchtown? (Just saw the Bristol offers one), but I was so TO'd at brunch menus at that point that I didn't even bother to check).

    Korean BBQ Beef at Belly Shack made for a fine fill-in.

    [/brunchrant]

    Damn! There's always Owen & Engine if you want a fine burger...and it's not too far from where you were.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #67 - August 22nd, 2011, 9:58 am
    Post #67 - August 22nd, 2011, 9:58 am Post #67 - August 22nd, 2011, 9:58 am
    gastro gnome wrote:Hot Chocolate went into my doghouse yesterday by A) offering a very good burger B) being located nearby when I got a hankering for a burger and C) not serving the burger just shy of noon due to brunch-only menu. And no, mr. Waiter, if we want a burger, it is not acceptable to offer me ham and eggs minus the eggs. Then I called Birchwood Kitchen, who also serves a good burger, to learn that they only serve burgers after 5 PM, Tues-Fri.

    It's noon on a Saturday people? Why can't I get a pub style burger in Wicker Park/Brunchtown? (Just saw the Bristol offers one), but I was so TO'd at brunch menus at that point that I didn't even bother to check).

    Korean BBQ Beef at Belly Shack made for a fine fill-in.

    [/brunchrant]


    SmallBar does a decent burger -- I think it's available even during brunch hours. I'm not really a fan of their new menu and I miss the old 'bacon jam' burger. The new one is still decent, though, with dijon aioli, spanish onions, leaf lettuce & cheddar (I bristle somewhat that there's an upcharge for aoili, but... whatever, I don't have to order it). A little southeast, Twisted Spoke and Paramount Room do decent burgers (I know Twisted Spoke's is available during brunch hours - can't say for sure about Paramount Room) or Revolution to the northwest. Not as a beefy and tender as O&E but it usually comes cooked as requested and is pretty damn satisfying (their 'standard', with bacon, cheddar and beer-braised onions -- their other options tend to be a little hit or miss for me).
    best,
    dan
  • Post #68 - August 22nd, 2011, 10:04 am
    Post #68 - August 22nd, 2011, 10:04 am Post #68 - August 22nd, 2011, 10:04 am
    I hit DeLux on Milwaukee for a burger on Sun morning. They actually have a breakfast burger, but you can get any kind you want, either with breakfast potatoes, fries or tots. Plus their bloody mary comes with an ice cold 7oz beer. What's not to love?
  • Post #69 - October 23rd, 2011, 9:03 am
    Post #69 - October 23rd, 2011, 9:03 am Post #69 - October 23rd, 2011, 9:03 am
    I've met up with some excellent burgers over the years, with the burgers at Edzo's perhaps having been at the very top of my list . . . I've personally never been a member of the Kuma's fan club feeling that they pay too little attention to the beef itself.

    But the burger I met last night at Hot Chocolate might be the best burger I've ever tasted - anywhere. It starts with a terrific house-made sesame and poppy seed studded bun, loosely packed and house ground Heartland beef, bacon, 4-year aged Widmer cheddar cheese (perfectly melted) and a perfectly fried, sunny side up egg on top.

    I strongly belong to the less is more club when it comes to burgers, and I also find burgers topped with umpteen ingredients to be a ridiculous distraction from the should-be-showcased beef. Yet the toppings (and proportion of toppings) at Hot Chocolate accentuated but did not mask the flavors of the perfectly cooked (medium rare) patty. And at all times, it was the beef flavor that came through more than anything else. I was really stunned by the care and thought given to each ingredient in this burger - and just the perfect amount of dripping greasy beefy goodness. The burger is served aside house made potato chips (good but nothing to dance about), tasty house made pickle slices and miniature squeeze bottles of ketchup and horseradish mustard (I didn't bother with the pickles, ketchup or mustard on the burger itself).

    Every restaurant serving burgers needs to get their ass over to Hot Chocolate asap to find out how a burger should taste, because that's where the burger pinnacle can be found. Burger perfection really!
  • Post #70 - October 23rd, 2011, 8:00 pm
    Post #70 - October 23rd, 2011, 8:00 pm Post #70 - October 23rd, 2011, 8:00 pm
    I've always been a big fan of the HC burger, although I haven't had it for several months, since my last one came out about 40 degrees overcooked... I think that's enough time in the penalty box.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #71 - May 16th, 2012, 11:21 am
    Post #71 - May 16th, 2012, 11:21 am Post #71 - May 16th, 2012, 11:21 am
    Hot Chocolate had a recent short shutdown for renovations and menu revamp, so I thought I'd check out the new version. I've always liked the place, especially for the burger and brunch.

    The look of the new space is a vast improvement. What was a waiting room style seating space in front is now a large communal table and some small tables along the window. They also added the huge fold-away type of windows so the light and air can flow in freely and the front of the restaurant feels like an outdoor space. I grabbed a table up front and it was really pleasant. In addition, the kitchen is now open as well, with the back wall now blown out. The whole place feels a lot less crowded and open.

    The menu is not incredibly different from what I remember, but does offer a wider range of choices than ever before. A great variety of small sharable items, some salads, just a few large entrees, and maybe 8 sandwich choices. The dessert menu is also much more extensive than before.

    I didn't get to sample too much of the menu since I was alone, but I really enjoyed what I had. I started with a spring onion soup, which came with a nice hunk of fresh bread. Light and flavorful. For my main course I had a sandwich with lamb sausage, Creama Kasa cheese, arugula and oregano oil. The portion size was quite large and the sandwich came together very well. The most memorable aspect was the house made flatbread, a nice wheat pita with a great texture and heartiness.

    For dessert, I had a coffee cocoa nib malted and couple of homemade cookies (they have a cart full of 10-12 different kinds to choose from). The malt was great for a warm day, but otherwise did nothing to distinguish itself. But, the cookies were fresh and delicious, and a bargain at $1 each.

    I've always liked Hot Chocolate, but the new and improved feel of the space does add another dimension, and I'm sure I'll be back often, especially during the summer.
  • Post #72 - May 16th, 2012, 10:55 pm
    Post #72 - May 16th, 2012, 10:55 pm Post #72 - May 16th, 2012, 10:55 pm
    Time Out Chicago just ran a profile on Mindy Segal explaining the how this new menu and approach came about:
    http://timeoutchicago.com/restaurants-b ... tchocolate
    best,
    dan
  • Post #73 - May 23rd, 2012, 7:13 am
    Post #73 - May 23rd, 2012, 7:13 am Post #73 - May 23rd, 2012, 7:13 am
    does anyone know if bar seating still exists? we were hoping to drop by friday (as they have no reservations available) to see if we can get our hands on some of the new 3floyds brews without driving to munster.
  • Post #74 - June 13th, 2012, 1:17 pm
    Post #74 - June 13th, 2012, 1:17 pm Post #74 - June 13th, 2012, 1:17 pm
    gleam wrote:I've always been a big fan of the HC burger, although I haven't had it for several months, since my last one came out about 40 degrees overcooked... I think that's enough time in the penalty box.


    had the same issue last night. i was highly disappointed since i'd heard so many good things. however, my wife's medium burger came out very well done (and dry). i would have sent it back, but she had begrudgingly eaten about half of it before i got to try it.

    additionally, the cream sauce in my spring vegetable pasta split about half way into it (it came out of the kitchen exceedingly hot, maybe had been under a heat lamp?). in any case, the heavy sauce completed muted the delicate flavors of the asparagus and fava beans.

    the desserts were nice, but not remarkable, and certainly didn't inspire "national recognition" level conversations at our table. the smores cake was tasty, but I expected it to be warm, not room temperature.

    in any event, i probably won't be returning anytime soon. i don't think hot chocolate will miss me - on a tuesday night, the dining room was full our entire stay.
  • Post #75 - June 15th, 2012, 9:49 am
    Post #75 - June 15th, 2012, 9:49 am Post #75 - June 15th, 2012, 9:49 am
    Hey all, had my first trip to the “new” HC last night.

    We went searching for a burger that I had heard had been ranked in the top 5 in the US. Somewhere. Allegedly.

    Overall the burger was fine. Nothing eccentric. Burger, bun, cheese, bacon, egg. Bun was a tad dry. I didn’t get a ton of flavor from the burger. It needed something. I ordered it Medium Rare and it came out slightly above that. Maybe that was part of the issue.

    Part of me thinks we are getting spoiled with the incredibly high level of burgers throughout Chicago and that makes it hard to go to some place and really be blown away. I keep having friends say “you need to try xyz burger, its the BEST” but the truth is we have a bunch of places that all have great burgers. Ultimately people like such varying elements of a burger (toppings - Kuma, flavorful meat - Owen & Engine, smaller size with good toppings - DMK, etc...) that it may be impossible to truly recognize one burger as the BEST. The search for the “perfect burger” has in some ways lead me to be too critical. I guess this little rant is me vocalizing I need to realize that yes there are a crap-load of good burgers and to just enjoy them all. Oh and to stop paying $15 for average burgers.

    For sides we had the snap peas which were outstanding. And the English peas which we decided we would not order again.

    Dessert wise we were happy with the Strawberry pie. The Smore deal was fine.
  • Post #76 - June 15th, 2012, 7:08 pm
    Post #76 - June 15th, 2012, 7:08 pm Post #76 - June 15th, 2012, 7:08 pm
    Too bad to hear of these recent poor experiences with the burger, but I can assure you that when done properly, it's fantastic and as good a burger as I've had (and I too am a huge fan of the burgers at the likes of Edzo's, Owen & Engine and Bad Apple). That being said, if I ordered a burger medium rare and it wasn't delivered medium rare, I'd be pretty angry . . . especially knowing how good Hot Chocolate's burger can be.
  • Post #77 - June 15th, 2012, 10:06 pm
    Post #77 - June 15th, 2012, 10:06 pm Post #77 - June 15th, 2012, 10:06 pm
    BR wrote:Too bad to hear of these recent poor experiences with the burger, but I can assure you that when done properly, it's fantastic and as good a burger as I've had (and I too am a huge fan of the burgers at the likes of Edzo's, Owen & Engine and Bad Apple). That being said, if I ordered a burger medium rare and it wasn't delivered medium rare, I'd be pretty angry . . . especially knowing how good Hot Chocolate's burger can be.


    I, too, know how amazing HC's burger can be. I've had burgers there that rival O&E. We ordered three medium rare burgers at lunch today and, while all three were delicious, none were cooked to temp. Mine managed to be medium, the others looked to be medium well. I also think the beef mix might have changed from the last time I was there, but that could be a function of the overcooking.

    This is the second time in a row they've overcooked a burger for me, and I think I might just give up on the place at this point. Which makes me very sad, because it's an amazing burger in theory.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #78 - June 16th, 2012, 6:37 am
    Post #78 - June 16th, 2012, 6:37 am Post #78 - June 16th, 2012, 6:37 am
    Have any of you who got overcooked burgers complained? Maybe they don't know!
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #79 - June 18th, 2012, 9:18 pm
    Post #79 - June 18th, 2012, 9:18 pm Post #79 - June 18th, 2012, 9:18 pm
    jpeac2 wrote:Overall the burger was fine. Nothing eccentric. Burger, bun, cheese, bacon, egg. Bun was a tad dry. I didn’t get a ton of flavor from the burger. It needed something. I ordered it Medium Rare and it came out slightly above that. Maybe that was part of the issue.


    yes, I didn't care for the bun either. it was dry and dense and I can only assume several days old.

    leek wrote:Have any of you who got overcooked burgers complained? Maybe they don't know!


    didn't get the chance too. our server went missing for a big chunk of our dinner and we didn't feel it noteworthy enough to complain about by the time he checked in and all were at the ends of our entrees.
  • Post #80 - June 18th, 2012, 9:28 pm
    Post #80 - June 18th, 2012, 9:28 pm Post #80 - June 18th, 2012, 9:28 pm
    We complained last time. This time they were close enough that I didn't bother.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #81 - November 25th, 2012, 2:06 pm
    Post #81 - November 25th, 2012, 2:06 pm Post #81 - November 25th, 2012, 2:06 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:It's noon on a Saturday people? Why can't I get a pub style burger in Wicker Park/Brunchtown? (Just saw the Bristol offers one), but I was so TO'd at brunch menus at that point that I didn't even bother to check).


    Bristol only does brunch on Sunday, but they do usually have the burger on the menu (the menu changes, so there are no guarantees).
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #82 - July 21st, 2014, 9:46 am
    Post #82 - July 21st, 2014, 9:46 am Post #82 - July 21st, 2014, 9:46 am
    It turns out that Mindy Segal's recent breakfast and baked goods launch at Hot Chocolate isn't just a preview of her planned bakery—it will essentially become the bakery itself. Official word is coming down that Segal has decided not to open her highly-anticipated Hot Chocolate Bakery in Logan Square, but fans can now try all of her new baked goods at her original Bucktown restaurant, which has changed its just-launched bakery and breakfast service from a summer popup to a permanent addition.
    http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2014/07/16/mindy-segal-nixes-logan-square-bakery-hot-chocolate-breakfast.php
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #83 - September 30th, 2015, 4:03 pm
    Post #83 - September 30th, 2015, 4:03 pm Post #83 - September 30th, 2015, 4:03 pm
    I'm not sure when it started or how long it will last, but on a recent trip to Hot Chocolate, the menu revealed that Mindy Segal is back in the kitchen: "As we welcome Becky to the position of pastry chef I put my apron back on and begin to put an end of the summer dessert menu together for you."

    Hot Chocolate - Apple Tartlet - apples, brown butter cheesecake, streusel, dulce de leche hard cider sauce, sour cream sorbet.JPG

    The Apple Tartlet has apples (obviously, brown butter cheesecake, streusel, dulce de leche hard cider sauce, and sour cream sorbet. As is to be expected of one of Mindy's creations, it was spectacular.
  • Post #84 - September 30th, 2015, 5:22 pm
    Post #84 - September 30th, 2015, 5:22 pm Post #84 - September 30th, 2015, 5:22 pm
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:I'm not sure when it started or how long it will last, but on a recent trip to Hot Chocolate, the menu revealed that Mindy Segal is back in the kitchen: "As we welcome Becky to the position of pastry chef I put my apron back on and begin to put an end of the summer dessert menu together for you."

    Hot Chocolate - Apple Tartlet - apples, brown butter cheesecake, streusel, dulce de leche hard cider sauce, sour cream sorbet.JPG

    The Apple Tartlet has apples (obviously, brown butter cheesecake, streusel, dulce de leche hard cider sauce, and sour cream sorbet. As is to be expected of one of Mindy's creations, it was spectacular.


    I need a date with this!
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening

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