**NO MORE ON THIS PLACE. THEY HAVE CLOSED AND THE POP-UP DINNER FOLKS KNOWN AS FEASTLY ARE USING THE SPACE NOW**
Dogpatch has been an up and coming neighborhood for some time now and it continues its trend with the opening of another new restaurant called Chocolate Lab. The brain child of Michael Recchiuti, the noted chocolate maker with the space in the Ferry Plaza. It's a small restaurant space attached to the chocolate factory and in addition to serving his famous chocolates they have created a savory and sweet menu of delights to try.
The dining space is a small woodsy affair with a few individual tabletops and a long communal dining table with the bright shiny steel kitchen off to the right. An intimate affair to be sure.
The soup was a hearty chicken stock barley, tomatoes, ditalini pasta, and cabbage--it was much like a minestrone. In addition to being very tasty and filling, the serving was huge, more than enough to share. Because I wanted to try some dessert I couldn't finish it but surely wanted to. It paired nicely with the ham and cheese tartine--layers of smoke country ham from Fatted Calf Charcuterie and triple cream cheese, house made relish served on fresh flatbread from Firebrand Bread in Oakland and a side of pickled vegetables. It was a good tartine heaped high with ham whose subtle smoky salty flavor was a nice blend with the buttery creaminess of the triple cream cheese, which I could enjoy all by itself. It seems like a lite bite but it's not, it is a full on meal and easily shareable like all their tartines. I really liked the pickled vegetable side of cauliflower and carrots. They a mild tangy sweetness that I enjoy and worked well with the theme as opposed to just a plain pickle.
Of course, one of the main reasons to come to Chocolate Lab is for the desserts and not wanting to be too gluttonous, I chose to try only 2 of them, the Chocolate Lab cake and the cookie plate assortment.
The cake was most definitely the best of the two and a highlight here. Devil's food cake layered with bittersweet chocolate ganache, a Recchiuti semi-sweet chocolate wrap, cacao nib infused foam with caramelized cacao nibs placed in a bowl of coffee creme anglaise. For those who like chocolate that isn't cloyingly sweet this is the dessert for you. It was both dense and creamy and all the different chocolate flavors blended together seamlessly to make this heaven in a bowl. The coffee flavor in the creme anglaise also isn't overpowering either, which says a lot coming from someone who isn't a coffee fan. This is a big dessert and while I myself was able to consume all of it in record time others may need to share, otherwise you might succumb to a sugar rush nap quite quickly, but oh what a sweet nap it will be.
The cookie plate consisted of double chocolate, ginger snap chocolate, cacao nib shortbread, shortbread cookie and a sesame seed, potato chip shaped cookie dipped in chocolate. After the richness of the cake, the cookies were a little bit of a come down. They are not as sweet and are all crumbly cookies, not the soft chewy kind. I'm going to say I wasn't the biggest fan of these, particularly the sesame seed and chocolate--texture and taste wise it was odd and off putting to my palate. Much like pizzas, everyone has their own likes and tastes about cookies--soft and chewy, crunchy, etc.--for me, I've had better, but you'd have to try them to really make up your own mind.
Overall I enjoyed my visit here, it was cozy and neighborhoody and we didn't feel rushed to get in and get out like some overly crowded places in town. While you may not be up for trying their savory choices I do highly recommend you go by and try their desserts, start with the cake and work your way down, it will be totally worth the trip out to Dogpatch.