More than dessert: The Chocolate Sanctuary reimagines fine dining

When someone mentions the town Gurnee you probably think about Six Flags Great America and Gurnee Mills, not indulgent fine dining. The Chocolate Sanctuary is about to change that. Opened this past summer by longtime Gurnee residents Bill and Donna Collazo, it’s about to become your go-to spot for a date night or moms night out.



If you go

The Chocolate Sanctuary

5101 Washington St. Gurnee, IL 60031

224 944-0808

The Chocolate Sanctuary is more than a dessert place and it’s not just for fondue, although they do both well. It offers a variety of savory and sweet dishes that show off the flavor and complexity of the cacao plant, and the talent and originality of Executive Chef Ahmad G. Moral. From drinks and appetizers, to steaks and, of course, dessert, interesting flavor combinations and exquisite preparation await you.

Donna and Bill took their time creating the restaurant’s theme and no detail is spared. The design and atmosphere offer a modern sanctuary feel and the staff is top notch. When I dined, not only was the staff polite but they were also very knowledgeable about the menu and the products and were quick to offer advice when asked.

Because they live in the area, the Collazo’s have not only made The Chocolate Sanctuary a family endeavour (their son and daughter both work there), but they also provide sustainable career opportunities for other members of their community. Their connection and dedication to Gurnee shines through the faces of everyone that works that there.

But the food, oh the food, is the shining star. First off, go hungry–really hungry. While the prices are about the same as other high-end steak restaurants, the portions are substantially larger and you will leave full! Appetizers are a must as it’s a great way to expand on the variety of items you try. We loved the Chicken with Goat Cheese and Bacon. I also recommend the Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomatoes with a Balsamic Glaze. When you dine in, your bread basket comes with chocolate sourdough, it’s not a dessert and you must try it as you will be surprised at its taste.

Main courses vary from Jack Daniel’s Cocoa Infused BBQ Sauce on Sanctuary 5-spice Ribs–where the meat is falling-off-the-bone-tender–to your standard filets. The filet I had was cooked perfectly and served with a Cocoa Maitre d’butter, which was amazing. I had it with Garlic Mashed Potatoes that were absolute perfection.

Dessert is, of course, exceptional and divided into two parts: Magic and Enchanted. Magic desserts feature the extravagant chocolate fountain, delivered to your table with a host of accompaniments including candied bacon and other equally delicious chocolate confections. The Enchanted menu is for those that want to indulge their sweet tooth with seasonal and less chocolate-y treats such as gelato and cheesecake. There is also an array of dessert wines and ports.

On your way out you can pick up hand crafted truffles and fine chocolates for the poor kids you left at home.

Overall, The Chocolate Sanctuary may have chocolate in it’s name but it’s really a sanctuary of fine dining among the vast rows of chain restaurants many have come to expect.

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