The Chocolate Sanctuary: 5101 Washington St, Gurnee, Il, 224-944-0808
Our 28th wedding anniversary was forthcoming and our children recommended The Chocolate Sanctuary -- it sounded like a fun place to take my wife to celebrate. Besides, it was about 10 minutes from our home so it was hard to beat the location. I was a little hesitant as I enjoy chocolate but don't love chocolate the way my wife does. Would all entrees and appetizers contain chocolate? How would that look like and taste? Would they also serve beer infused with chocolate? Anyway, I took my kid's advice and decided to take the plunge.
Our reservation was at 6 pm on the outside patio but with the heat and noise issue (being close to Highway 21 (Milwaukee Ave.)), we decided to sit inside which the host obliged. There were a handful of guests currently seated and I wondered if it would get busier later that Saturday evening. During the next hour or so, most of the tables became occupied and we felt like we had made the right choice.
Our wait staff introduced herself as Shelby, another staff member stood behind her as she was in training.
Water was immediately served as we perused the drink menu. I ordered an anti-hero on tap for $5, very tasty and inexpensive. My wife had a glass of the Terre Gaie Pinot Grigio which she also enjoyed.
Shortly after they brought us our drinks, a basket of two white and two brown rolls were served with a chocolate butter spread. My wife enjoyed the chocolate spread although I would have preferred a standard butter spread. Eating the bread felt like dessert and less as an appetizer but we just went along with the meal preparation.
We were indeed hungry and finished the rolls rather quickly. Shelby asked if we wanted more rolls, and we smiled and she also brought out another serving of the chocolate butter. A nice touch.
For an appetizer, I tried a bowl of Cocoa Spiced Butternut Squash Soup ($7), rich and delicious. Used some of the bread to get every last drop of this tasty soup. Wife tried it too and really liked the flavor but wanted to save room for dessert.
I ordered the Chicken Pappardelle and it was delicious. Loved the combination of spinach, artichoke, pesto sauce, chicken strips, and pasta. With or without the chicken, the dish would have been delicious.
My wife had the Chicken Romano. Two breaded chicken breast fillets crusted with Romano cheese on a bed of arugula, topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and a special chocolate sauce. A good size serving and as my wife was pacing herself for dessert, she ate the one piece of chicken and save the other for later.
Overall, I appreciated our server's timing. After receiving our entree, Shelby stopped by a few minutes to briefly ensure our food was up to our liking, which was a nice touch and left us alone to enjoy our food and each other's company. She again checked back in another 15-20 minutes briefly and then went on with her other responsibilities.
After the meal, Shelby was conscious enough to ask if this was a special occasion, we smiled and mentioned our anniversary and then she brought out a glass of Prosecco and sweets for us. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of care.
Our water was filled up a number of times without any mention by us.
For dessert, my wife ordered the Molten Indulgence to be shared by the two of us. The menu (and server) had said it would take about 20 minutes for preparation which indeed was the case. A rich chocolate cake with a molten semi-sweet chocolate center served with house-made vanilla ice cream. Having the vanilla ice cream with the chocolate cake and the creamy chocolate sauce was a nice juxtaposition of flavors and texture.
The manager came by to congratulate us and ask us if everything was OK. Our smiles conveyed that we had a very nice evening meal in a comfortable setting.
Food was very good, service was outstanding.
The total bill was $75 and change.