Chocolate Takes the Menu Spotlight

Still reeling from chocolate overload this past weekend? Too bad. There are chocolate-themed prix fixe menus to be had! Just when you thought you'd OD'd on heart-shaped confections, tesori and sola come along to re-invigorate our adoration and obsession with chocolate in all its versatile glory. Far beyond dessert, both restaurants are showcasing chocolate in a variety of savory and sweet preparations. Put on your Augustus Gloop pants and get eating.

Red velvet cake at sola
(Eat red velvet cake at sola to reach your chocolate quota for the month)

Every month, sola features a different three-course themed tasting menu. It might be a seasonal ingredient, it might be bacon, and in the case of February, it will definitely be chocolate. Sure chocolate in February gets pigeonholed as a Valentine's Day requisite, but you'll save stomach space for cocoa-crusted scallops, chocolate-glazed pork, and fudgy red velvet cake. The first course is indeed scallops crusted with cocoa nibs and served with sweet potato puree and napa cabbage, followed by a boneless pork chop with chocolate-sweet soy glaze, barley, and Chinese broccoli. For dessert, it's red velvet cake with ginger cream cheese frosting, hot fudge, candied ginger, and cocoa nibs. The three-courser is available every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this month for $30 per person. Optional wine pairings are available for $15.

Similarly, tesori focuses on a single ingredient for its rotating "single ingredient dinner party," with dark chocolate as the latest focal point. The multi-course degustation showcases dark chocolate in a plethora of preparations, all with an Italian accent reflective of tesori's philosophies. Bet you've never had a chocolate-bacon-date pizza. Or prosciutto with dark chocolate. Or chocolate-braised beef. Now through April 15, you can make these dishes a reality. The menu opens with spiced chocolate, bacon, date, caramel, and Grana Padano pizza hors d'oeuvres, followed by antipasti of prosciutto, dark chocolate, buffalo mozzarella, Nicoise olive, and basil. The pasta course features chittara with sun-dried tomatoes, Marcona almonds, capers, dark chocolate, and Asiago, and the fish course finds seared jumbo scallops adjoined by enchanted mushroom dark chocolate, risotto, and Parmesan. Coffee- and chocolate-braised beef short ribs are next, followed by dessert of chocolate-coconut fondant cake with toasted hazelnuts and port grapes. The "single ingredient dinner party" is available for parties of 10 or more and costs $65 per person, plus $20 for optional wine pairings. Call 312-786-9911 for reservations.

- Matt Kirouac