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Cheap Eats - The Chocolate Bar sweetens up Castleberry Hill

Dessert cafe's second location won't leave you cuckoo for cocoa puffs

FOOD GROUP: Chocolate-covered café

MEAL PLAN: After purchasing the Chocolate Bar from original owner Karen Britain, and losing Seeger's alums Aaron Russell and Nick Rutherford shortly thereafter, Joyner Enterprises stripped down the menu (no more oysters with Bloody Mary granita or blackberries and ginger ice cream) and opened a new spot in Castleberry Hill.

EYE CANDY: Chocolate Bar's Castleberry digs already feel like they've seen better days. The modest room, swathed floor to ceiling in varying shades of browns and blacks, suffers from an all-too-literal interpretation of the restaurant's theme (and hardly looks good enough to eat). A display case, seemingly as fragile as soufflé, houses the sweet treats – the case's door slid off its track and crashed into the cooler on one visit (for the second time that day, according to the server). Wall-mounted flat-screen TVs flicker silently with world news, making it feel more manly than romantic.

MR. GOOD BAR: The space boasts two facing bars – one for chocolate, the other for booze. Luxuriously rich homemade chocolate syrup makes for a velvety hot chocolate ($4). A few sips in, though, and your gums may start to hum with sugar shock. The same syrup is used in the bar's signature cocktail, the Chocolate Bar, a martini mixed with Bailey's Irish Cream and vodka ($10).

SWEET TALK: The baristas (chocoristas?) are friendly and chatty. Product knowledge varies dramatically from server to server, however. Explanations range from the painfully obvious ("What's the port wine chocolate truffle like?" "It's chocolate – with port used in the filling.") to a snappy, informed detail of the homemade chocolate sauce.

TO-GO BOX: A selection of eight assorted bon bons are piled into a shiny red paper box ($10). But the packing hardly matters. Like fries at a drive-thru, you'll be halfway done with the treats by the time your car leaves the parking lot. The chocolate-dipped ginger, port wine truffle, and salty caramel ganache bars are infinitely poppable.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The Chocolate Bar will indulge your sweet tooth, even if it doesn't leave you cuckoo for cocoa puffs.



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