Sugar Rush: Chocolate from Ada Street in Chicago
Though you may usually hear "Ada Street" and "cocktail" in the same breath, this is the kind of restaurant you visit for one thing but leave remembering another. In a menu full of items you eat with your hands, the simply titled Chocolate ($7) is a memorable indulgence.
Since this is one chocolate dessert I've never seen before, I'll define this mound of decadence by everything it is not. First of all, it is not chocolate frosting; this spread has a deep near-dark flavor without being overly sweet, nor is the texture heavy or grainy in any way. It is not a mousse; yes, it's lighter than frosting, but the texture rests somewhere in the middle between paste-like frosting and the airiness of mousse. Though it spreads amicably like nutella, the complementary flavors here are sea salt and olive oil instead of hazelnut. Combined with lightly toasted slices of ciabatta, these additions give the dessert a more savory lean than you usually find in a chocolate dish.
Even after this long explanation, when you take knife to chocolate, you may still be surprised by its supple texture. What appears to be a sturdy and compact knob is actually a yielding, nearly melted chocolate butter. Make sure to take a careful vertical slice so as to get the right amount of flaky sea salt and a dab of the olive oil pooled around the bottom. Thanks to an exceedingly generous portion, you can giddily dollop the chocolate onto a slice of the ciabatta in a half-inch thick layer. Ada Street smartly turns this dessert into a process, which combined with its place at the end of the meal, ensures the dish a spot in your long-term food memory.