The restaurant: Chocolate Lab 2.0, 5575 E. Third Ave., Unit C, Denver
About: Chocolate Lab has reopened in a new, larger space with a new look in the Hilltop neighborhood after closing its original location at 2504 E. Colfax Ave. a year ago. The 32-seat restaurant, which incorporates chocolate in each of its dishes, tripled the size of its kitchen and doubled the size of the bar from its previous location. It also has a new dedicated retail space where customers can buy truffles, peanut brittle, toffee and other chocolate creations.
What’s on the menu: Guests can still expect to see the same chocolate-infused dishes they’ve been craving for the last year, including shrimp with milk chocolate chestnut risotto or impossible meatloaf with chocolate mushroom gravy. There are also new sweet and savory bites, like dark chocolate pork carnitas nachos. For dessert, try the signature triple truffle pie, or what the restaurant’s web sites proclaims as “the best creme brulee in Denver.” The bar is also serving chocolate-centric craft cocktails, rotating draft beer and wine.
Who’s cooking: Owner Phil Simonson and his team, most of whom hail from the original location, are the resident Willy Wonkas at Chocolate Lab. Simonson believes food can be transformed with chocolate, whether it’s a delicate touch, such as chocolate shavings, or the heavier smothered pulled pork with bourbon chocolate barbecue sauce.
More: Simonson originally started Chocolate Lab in 2010, selling homemade truffles, using a recipe his husband created, at farmer’s markets around town. He had previously left a corporate job and had no culinary experience, but after gaining some traction, he was able to open up the original chocolate shop in 2016 within his friend’s cheese shop, New World Cheese. When the cheese shop closed the next year, Simonson decided to lean into his chocolate creations and use the extra space for his sweet-and-savory restaurant.
Opening date: February 11, 2023
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