As a chocolate aficionado, I was so excited to hear about The Chocolate Sanctuary in Gurnee. A casually elegant restaurant that celebrates the cocoa bean, not just in dessert form, but brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, and even tea! We indulged in coca-infused brunch and loved it. You will too!
- Great and welcoming ambiance! With hues of purple and grey, you can’t help but feel relaxed and transported…like you’re visiting a spa…or sanctuary as the name suggests. My kids were mesmerized by the cool purple fireplace. Definitely, try to request to sit there when you make reservations.
- The food. From a prime rib station and eggs benedict to ceviche and waffle pops, there was something for everyone. There are two main stations and two main lines. One line had the main entrees like tenderloin, omelette station, eggs benedict, potatoes, and waffle pops. The other line had oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, pastries, desserts, ceviche, and pasta. My mission though was to try as many cocoa-infused infused items. On my list were the house-made organic cocoa nib granola, waffle pops, 5-spice cocoa ribs, chocolate sourdough French Toast, steel cut oatmeal.
The shrimp were ginormous!
My favorites were the cocoa-candied crispy bacon, the ribs, eggs benedict (which I usually ever eat).
- Innovative. I’ve never seen waffle pops, so were super stoked to try these. The kids loved them. You can order as you like — by customizing it or trying one of their recipes. We loved the banana-nutella waffle pop. Next time, we want to order it with bacon.
- Oh, the desserts. If you love desserts (like I do), you’ll be blown away by the choices they have. They are all excellent! You can thank the fact that they have their very own pastry chef, Hailey. My daughter could not get enough of the chocolate covered strawberries (both milk chocolate and dark).
The Nutella-filled beignets were amazing. Basically, everything that touched our mouths was delicious. And quite frankly, we were impressed with the dessert selection. Macarons, scones, creme-filled desserts, muffins, cinnamon rolls. OMG.
We may have gone overboard a little. Or maybe not.
- Wall of wine. The food is complemented by a selection of craft cocktails and a carefully curated selection of wine and craft beer.
- Visit the boutique. They have a glass case of homemade chocolates that they sell. They also offer a monthly chocolate subscription club.
- ….we came when it was less busy. Space is a little tight and the lines for the stations were longer than we liked especially since we were so hungry! With buffet-style, we’re usually accustomed to “grabbing and going,” but since they have to serve you and it was busy, the lines were long (and not so fun when you and your kids are starving.)
Since we attended during brunch, we, of course, didn’t get to try the full menu. And what a menu it is! Some of their recommended dishes include:
Laurie (their PR representative) recommends:
“Their signature chocolate sourdough bread is a must-have! As for menu items, their steaks are from Allen Brothers and are excellent; along with T-Rex Style Short Rib (Braised in Pinot Noir and dark cocoa, asparagus and cherry tomato risotto, demi sauce) and their Cocoa Pan-Seared Scallops (Zucchini chips, garlic mash potatoes, miso beurre blanc); burgers are amazing.
And of course there’s the signature tabletop Chocolate Fountain (with choice of white, milk, or dark chocolate. Served with choice of 5 fountain dippers: Cocoa-Candied Bacon, Graham Crackers, Cocoa Dusted Potato Chips, Rice Krispies, Disarrano infused Marshmallows, House made pretzels, Apples, Bananas, Clementines, Pears, or Strawberries.“
I also had a chance to chat with the owners, Bill and Donna, about some of their favorite items from the menu.
Favorite entree served at the restaurant?
Donna: Cocoa Nib Crusted Salmon (Orange zest, Israeli cous cous with carrots, brussel sprouts and cocoa candied bacon, citrus beurre blanc sauce)
Bill: Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Chop (16 oz Pork chop, garlic mashed potatoes, haricot verts, natural juices, cocoa-cranberry sauce)
Bill: Trio of Chocolate (White chocolate hazelnut mousse, milk chocolate pots de crème, dark chocolate chip sea salt caramel brownie with Angelo’s gelato)
Donna: Banana Tower (Honey lace tuile tower, chocolate crème diplomat, caramelized bananas, strawberries, and Angelo’s sea salt caramel fudge gelato)
Bill: Sunset (Malibu Coconut Rum, Cruzan Mango Rum, Pineapple and Grenadine)
Donna: Chocolate Old Fashioned (Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, Aztec Chocolate bitters, maraschino and Luxaro cherries, simple syrup, muddled orange peel)
The Chocolate Sanctuary is a must-visit especially if you are a chocolate fan. Needless to say, the kids (and I) were in chocolate heaven. Next time, we’ll plan on coming earlier. We’d even come back to try their regular menu — everything sounds fantastic!
- Sign up for the Cocoa Club where you get a complimentary plated dessert or appetizer just for joining, a complimentary entrée on your birthday, dessert for two on your anniversary and lots more!
- Interested in Sunday brunch without the crowds? Go earlier instead of around 12!
- Always check their calendar for special events. For example, for Valentine’s Day they are offering a $60 Prix Fixe menu (items from the menu are also available a la carte), live music from violinist Inna Melnikov (7 p.m. until 10 p.m.) and, of course, house-made chocolates (in gift boxes, as after-dinner treats or cocktail accompaniments). In addition to a decadent dessert made especially for the romantic holiday, The Valentine’s Menu includes: Pecan Crusted Oysters with Vanilla Sauce & Melted Spinach, Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Cocoa Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Roast Prime Rib Au Jus with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus Polonaise, Cocoa Alfredo Fettuccini with Spinach & Peas, and an inspired dessert from Chef Hailey. Celebrating on the weekend? The restaurant will feature live entertainment by Bill Pantle’s “Tribute to Old Blue Eyes” on Saturday February 17th. Sounds like fun!
- Love tea? They offer tea on the last Saturday of each month. We’d definitely like to try this.
Location: 5101 Washington St., Gurnee
Hours: Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm; Closed Monday. Tuesday – Thursday 11am-9pm; Friday – Saturday 11am-11pm; ; Sunday 4pm-9pm Price: Brunch is $25 per guest; $8 for kids 5-10; kids under five eat free.
Parking: Plenty of free parking
What to expect: A restaurant with chocolate-inspired dishes, desserts, and homemade chocolates.