I dislike the word “foodie.”
Like most industries become at some point, the one of food has currently found the spotlight. People pay as much attention, if not more, to battles over buttercream as they do bombs in Israel. What began as a call for local produce in the 1970s with Alice Waters morphed into a cultural movement of finding the best and most delicious food/chefs/restaurants no matter the price. We claim to be connoisseurs of burgers or kale or tacos and forget that before all of this, before the hype, food had but one purpose: to satiate, satisfy, and taste fucking delicious. And fundamentals like these require no label, but simply an appetite and a desire to explore and learn.
In a city so vibrant and cultural (and sometimes overwhelming with options), I, too, forget what the essence of good food is. And so when I eat at neighborhood cafes like Chocolate Lab, I rediscover that no matter what job I am in and no matter where I am, I can never lose my excitement over the culinary world.
Tucked away in Dogpatch next to Piccino, Chocolate Lab is the gem of master chocolatier Michael Recchiuti and an underdog (pun intended) in the surplus of cafes around the city. Unassuming, with lights in the shape of beakers and a simple interior, it delivers excellent food, both savory and sweet, without being too heavy. The frittata on toast had the perfect amount of tomato sauce on top, although giving me a knife and fork to eat it with was useless as it was easier to eat by hand.
The star of the meal was of course, dessert – Mandarin mousse cake with citrus gelee, caramelized almonds, and coffee cream. Beautifully plated, the fudge sauce and coffee kept the dish from being too sweet, and the almonds added a wonderful crunchy texture and a perfect end to brunch.
I traveled alone this time (treat yo’self), but I want to return with a friend of two to experience more of the menu. Plus, this isn’t the most inexpensive of cafes, although the quality of ingredients validates the price points. Chocolate Lab is sure to become a neighborhood favorite and will be full of people looking to fill their stomaches with something delicious.
I’m not a foodie. I just like food.