Cocoa Lounge Heats Up The Island Hotel

[Disclaimer: All photos were taken in a dimly lit space. Between my camping flashlight and iPhone, there's only so much visual aid this Forker can provide. And may we remind you that chocolate is brown to begin with. As a supervisor used to say, “Brown: Working hard to be your favorite color.”]

Indulging in dessert is never a bad thing, and the pastry chefs (led by Michael Owens) at The Island Hotel's Palm Terrace take full advantage of the situation right about now. We welcome back their decadent Cocoa Lounge for the month of February like an old friend visiting from out-of-town.

 Situated in an enclosed dining space within the main restaurant, delicacies are kept at a brisk 65-degrees to ensure proper presentation and flavor. A pair of cushy couches and smattering of tabletops allow visitors to roam the Moulin Rouge space with ease. Even the sculptured centerpieces, whimsical in nature, are of the chocolate variety.

Their rotating selection of desserts range from financier s'mores to milk chocolate mousse timbales to bite-sized port truffles, and so forth. At last count we were at 17 varieties of sinful delight; the lightest fare being a non-comformist fresh fruit tart. However, we were unanimously advised to make a beeline for a chafing dome of chocolate bread pudding. Once topped with a healthy dollop of bourbon cream, we found ourselves buckling at the knees.

The lounge is discounted if you are enjoying dinner there, but reservations for just desserts are not only welcomed, but encouraged. Bonus: the bar provides full service inside Cocoa Lounge! Talk about a nightcap. But plan wisely; their limited engagement ends March 3.

Cocoa Lounge inside Palm Terrace, The Island Hotel, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 760-4920;

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