Posted On: 02/13/2008
Russ: I used to live in central Virginia, which gave me the opportunity (more than once!) to sample what’s considered the original Death by Chocolate dessert, invented by Marcel Desaulniers at The Trellis in Williamsburg back in the 1980s.
Kathy: You lucky dog.
R: Desaulniers’ sublime dessert inspired plenty of copycats, each determined to overindulge chocophiles’ most decadent fantasies. Over time, the über-chocolate dessert craze has subsided. But there are still plenty of wicked concoctions out there if you know where to look.
Kathy’s “death by chocolate” profile: It’s gotta be rich, dark, deep and gooey.
Russ’ “death by chocolate” profile: Black and bittersweet. Goth chocolate.
6335 Clayton Ave., St. Louis 314.645.6565
Mon. to Fri. – 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Sat. – 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Sun. – 11 a.m. to midnight
K: Felix’s was a really comfortable place; we may have to do more research there, again and again.
R: It’d be a good date spot.
K: So I thought, Chocolate Ecstasy … the name fits.
R: Why is that?
K: It was chocolate. It tasted good. OK, actually, it was yummy.
R: I submit to your formidable critical vocabulary.
K: Should I call it fabulous, then? I had a fabulous time exploring the different textures. Mousse, chunks of brownie, flourless cake, cakey cake, whipped cream … on and on. And it was pretty. Well, before we tore into it, it was pretty. Plus there was lots of art on the walls; this was like art on the plate. An elegant tower of decadence with a splash of chocolate and raspberry sauce on the side.
R: At first glance it looked like just a cake, but there was a lot more under the ganache. Deceptively rich, too. It sneaked up on me.
K: Didn’t mean I wanted to stop eating it.
R: Me either. So you found ecstasy?
K: I did. Next time, you’ll have to get your own.
Baileys’ Chocolate Bar
1915 Park Ave., St. Louis · 314.241.8100
Mon. to Sat. – 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sun. – 4 p.m. to midnight
R: Baileys’ definitely has something over all the other places.
R: You walk in and it just looks made for sin.
K: What I saw was romance.
R: So anyway … Chocolate Inebriation looked like a Ding Dong for grown-ups, topped with a huge scoop of Serendipity cinnamon ice cream and finished off with something like a dark chocolate toothpick.
K: It was more like a walking stick.
R: Two bites in and I was glad we were sharing it.
K: One bite in and I was in love. I could have eaten the whole thing. I loved the combination of the cinnamon and the chocolate. I tried to get ice cream and cake in each bite, just the right amount of both.
R: Plus it wasn’t like those flourless cakes; there was definitely some real cake consistency in there. But it was too dark in the room to see the layers; they just appeared to be fused into one intense, luscious mass.
K: It was dense; I had to dig into it. And if the cake alone wasn’t enough, the whole thing was encased in dark chocolate ganache.
R: There was also allegedly some chocolate stout in there, so I really wanted to order the Cinnamon Ice Cream and Chocolate Stout Beer Shake to go with it. But our server was spot-on with her drink suggestions. The Very Dark Chocolate Martini – laced with espresso liqueur – was so much better than some froufrou coffee drink.
K: The Chocolate Bar Signature Martini was unlike any hot chocolate Mom ever made. It came to the table hot and frothy and steaming like a cauldron. It could have been dessert on its own.
The Cheesecake Factory
1062 Saint Louis Galleria, Richmond Heights · 314.721.0505
Mon. to Thu. – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri. and Sat. – 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sun. – 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
R: Wow. This was better than I expected. I wonder how so many people can look past the cheesecakes to actually order it.
K: It was big, too. This was the first dessert where there might be more there than I could want.
R: Black-Out Cake: It’s not a slice, it’s a slab!
K: The cake was really cakey. The frosting was really good. The entire presentation was impressive. The whipped cream (big poofy clouds set to the side) and spikes of mousse-like frosting make for a really dynamic presentation.
R: The toasted almonds were a nice touch, too; they helped break up the sweetness of the cake. And I kept biting into little chocolate chunks embedded in the frosting between the layers like little chocolate mines. Again – not what I expected, and in a very good way.
K: The Cheesecake Factory has this whole vacation-y feel about it, like you’re at a resort hotel or Vegas. It was like getting away. It was certainly easy to forget we were in a mall.
R: My only regret was that the decorative half-moon of chocolate perched on the top was milk chocolate. If it’d been dark chocolate, it would approached that elusive threshold of chocolate lethality.
Death by Chocolate
The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery
6116 Second St., Kimmswick 636.464.3128
Tue. to Fri. – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sat. and Sun. – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
R: The Blue Owl is a dessert destination that’s known throughout the country.
K: The dessert menu is extraordinary … mind-boggling.
R: If you’ve ever seen The Blue Owl’s Levee High Apple Pie, you know that “over the top” is an understatement when it comes to desserts. So an indulgence called Death by Chocolate would seem to fit right in. Problem is, it’s got a long way to go to live up to the name. Mary Hostetter may be the Paula Deen of Missouri, but she’s no Marcel Desaulniers.
K: I did like the layered presentation. I’m a sucker for brownies, and this one was good and moist. I just wish there was more of it. It was good, but very sweet, maybe too sweet. The crumbled Heath bar pieces certainly add to that. I felt the mousse was good, not an overwhelming chocolate flavor, but rich and creamy. This dessert is extremely creamy.
R: You say creamy, I say foamy. I like my chocolate desserts like I like my coffee: black, no foam. I agree the brownie was over way too fast. There was barely a hint of the Kahlúa that was supposed to be drizzled over the top of the brownie. That leaves only mousse and whipped cream. I thought it was too light and too sweet. I still love The Blue Owl’s pies, but its Death by Chocolate wasn’t much more than a flesh wound.
K: It certainly wasn’t worth updating your will for. The cinnamon roll at the next table, however …
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