The Chocolate Sanctuary will surely satisfy the deepest chocolate craving of the most discerning chocoholic. Whether your passion is crafted cocktails, unique, chocolate-inspired entrees, or delectable desserts, this new restaurant offers finely tailored menus for lunch, dinner, dessert, and libations featuring the restaurant’s namesake ingredient.
The Chocolate Sanctuary, Gurnee
I had no difficulty finding my inner peace at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Chocolate Sanctuary in Gurnee. Local owners Donna and Bill Collazo opened the doors of The Chocolate Sanctuary to the community and held a food and beverage tasting that was fit for royalty. Surrounded by handmade confections, chocolate fountains, handcrafted cocktails, chocolate encased fruits, and samplings of menu items, I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store–except that I could imbibe.
The chocolate martini is taken to new heights at The Chocolate Sanctuary with signature drinks such as Chocolate Cherries, a delightful blend of Dutch chocolate vodka and cherry liquor, and The Standard, a stunning combination of vanilla vodka and dark chocolate liquor. The cocktail menu also includes a Gin & Tarragonic, a herbal spin on the classic, and a Chocolate Raspberry Mojito. The wine list is impressive and includes several vintages of port and a stunning selection of dessert wines.
When it comes to the food, chocolate flavors appear in surprising ways: maple lollipop chicken wings are coated with Jack Daniel’s cocoa BBQ sauce; hamburgers are served with a slathering of mole mayonnaise. A chopped salad is accompanied by a chocolate vinaigrette dressing, and pork sliders feature a cocoa-infused BBQ sauce. Candied bacon is one of several add-ons available on the lunch menu. A spiced cocoa butternut squash soup is also served.
The Chocolate Sanctuary’s Signature Entrees feature bolder chocolate schemes with dishes such as red mole brick chicken, mascarpone chicken atop chocolate fettuccine, and citrus nib-crusted salmon. Pork chops bathe in a Cabernet-cocoa cherry sauce, and short ribs are served braised with dark chocolate and stout. The menu also features a selection of tender steaks that can be accompanied by cocoa maître d’butter or the Cabernet-cocoa cherry sauce. Astonishingly enough–if chocolate is not your main interest, the menu does include plenty of non-chocolate, palate-pleasing offerings. Menus are seasonal and will be updated soon to reflect the autumn bounty of seasonal foods and flavors.
The dessert menu is aptly categorized as “Magic” and “Enchanted.” “Magic” begins with a chocolate fountain cascading with your choice of white, milk, or dark chocolate and an assortment of dipping items such as homemade marshmallows, rice krispies, chocolate graham crackers, and fruit. The chocolate fountain can be ordered for two or four people. Other desserts include mousse, chocolate bread pudding, and various cakes. “Enchanted” features lighter, fruit-inspired dishes such as peaches and cream, vanilla bean cheesecake, gelato, and sorbet.
But the experience does not end at food and drink at the table; The Chocolate Sanctuary also features a boutique offering craft chocolates and other delicious chocolate delicacies made by independent chocolatiers. Hand-decorated, individual chocolates are for sale as well as sweet treats such as handmade truffles and delectables such as dipped strawberries, chocolate-dipped macaroons, and salted caramel bars. Lovely baskets suitable for any gifting occasion can be found here with a wide variety of chocolate candy and snacks.
I can’t think of a more unique place to meet for appetizers, lunch, dinner, cocktails, or dessert—or any combination of the aforementioned. There is no doubt in my mind that The Chocolate Sanctuary is a perfect place for a mom’s night out gathering or a romantic date night without children in Lake County. While there is no children’s menu offered, the lunch menu offers several items that would more than satisfy a child’s palate and appetite, and I am certain that a tabletop chocolate fountain would be the highlight of any child’s very special birthday celebration.
Jennifer traveled to two continents as a nonprofit administrator and later helped run a small village in Lake County. But the real adventures began when she and her husband put down roots in Libertyville and started a family. Mom to a teenage boy and a tween girl, Jennifer spends her time changing radio stations in her minivan while driving to band concerts, learning new texting lingo, and keeping track of the latest trends in electronics and hairstyles.