Review: The Chocolate Pig

first impression | This new spot in the Cortex is the latest venture from the folks at Bissinger’s, and it is pure urban elegance. Blonde wood walls curve around booths in the wide open space, where elevated comfort food surprises you with amazing flavors you never knew could come out of foods like Brussels sprouts and sorbet. The kitchen is led by chef Patrick Russell, who trained at New England Culinary Institute and came here from Field & Main in Virginia. A welcoming bar is manned by friendly mixologists. I recommend reservations, but you also can sit at the bar or the open ‘dessert kitchen’ and watch the pastry chef work his magic. Naturally, many of the foods, both savory and sweet, incorporate Bissinger’s chocolate.

must try
» chicken fried brussels sprouts: $9; Start with these battered goodies, served perfectly crisp and sprinkled with pickled white onion bits.
» bacon flight with herbed white chocolate: $16; A good choice for the table, three bacon pieces each get an elaborate treatment. Beef bacon is drizzled with a sweet, molasses-like soy sauce and served over pungent, mouth-puckering kimchi. The traditional pork bacon sits atop peppery arugula and is flavored with sherry and coffee. Lamb bacon comes draped over a robust olive and caper tapenade designed to temper its distinctive flavor, but I still found it too gamey. In the center was a purée of white chocolate.
» seared diver scallops: $32; Gigantic scallops came with a perfect sear on both sides, scattered over deliciously creamy butternut squash purée, smoked mushrooms and crisped Brussels sprouts leaves. Also on the plate: a cold pumpkin relish.
» braised lamb shank: $28; The meat was flavorful and fall-off-the-bone tender as it nestled on creamy polenta. A smattering of crispy fried leeks added to the fat content (in case the lamb isn’t rich enough).
» peanut butter bomb: $7; A dark chocolate dome reveals decadent peanut butter mousse inside with a drizzle of hot berry sauce. The entire dish, which includes cookie crumbles and nitrogen-frozen berries, is a juxtaposition of sweet and salty, warm and cold, smooth and crunchy.
» passion fruit tart: $8; Exotic fruit compotes are served alongside a gelatinous fruit pie wedge and coconut white chocolate sorbet, which was outstanding.

wash it down
The bar here is very active with a dozen boutique cocktails and several local brews on tap, as well as wine and bottled/canned beer. The menu is heavy with exotic rum drinks, including our pick, 30 Minute O. It may look like a milkshake, but its dose of overproof Jamaican rum is boozy, despite the white cocoa and dark chocolate shavings on top. There’s some banana liqueur in there, too.

This is a must-visit. Besides its cool atmosphere, the food is amazing. Flavors are strong and exciting, and portions are pleasantly adequate.

4220 Duncan Ave. | 314.272.3230

the dish | Chicken Fried Brussels Sprouts with buttermilk dressing, confit lemon and pickled spring onions