Review: Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel

I was SO HAPPY to find out that my best friend does not have gestational diabetes. This meant that we could eat all the sugar and sweets we want!!! It also meant that I had someone to go check out the the Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel with, since Minh is not a big fan of desserts. I, on the other hand, could LIVE off sweets if it wouldn’t make me sick or malnourished.

So.. on Friday, Michele and I headed to the Cocoa Lounge for a nice girls’ night out…

The Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel - Newport Beach, CA

I didn’t really know what to expect with a chocolate dessert buffet. Part of my was expecting a Vegas-style buffet line, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually a “lounge”. There was lush velvet draped over the walls, and cozy couches and coffee tables for lounging. The lighting was a bit dim, which didn’t make for good pictures, but added to the romantic and relaxing feel of the room. Michele and I took a table out in the restaurant instead of the lounge, but there were other people actually “lounging” with friends.

Between Michele and I, we tried almost everything… and there were over a dozen different chocolate desserts to choose from… I was in chocolate heaven.

Snickers Cake and Chocolate Caramel Tart

German Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Pudding Cake with Gianduja Mousse

Strawberry Shortcake with White Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Pot de Creme

A "handful" of truffles.. hehe..

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Fudge Cookie S'more, Banana Chocolate Mousse Cake, and Chocolate Cupcake

Vanilla Custard-filled Eclair and "White Chocolate Mousse Square"

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Here’s how I ranked everything – from best to good (there was not “worst”):

  • Chocolate Pudding Cake with Gianduja Mousse – This one was THE BEST!!! It was rich and creamy and almost the perfect chocolate dessert.
  • Pots de Creme – Cold, custard-y chocolate pudding, with cute little malt balls
  • German Chocolate Cake – Rich, moist chocolate cake with a coconut creme. Very well balanced and not overly sweet.
  • Chocolate Caramel Tarts – This was Michele’s favorite because of the different textures: the silky chocolate and caramel with the crunchy tart shell.
  • Strawberry Shortcake with White Chocolate Mousse – light mousse with a moist vanilla cake and just a hint of strawberry sweetness
  • Snickers Cake with Cream Cheese Icing – first thing we tried that night, and it tasted like the best Snickers I had ever had.
  • Port Truffles – No overpowering port taste, which made for a sweet, rich truffle; the ganache was the perfect texture
  • Chocolate Lollipop – a good chocolate truffle.. ON A STICK!
  • White, Milk, and Dark Chocolate Truffles – by the end of the night, I was too stuffed to actually eat any of the “plain” truffles. But I imagine that they tasted just as good as the chocolate lollipop. UPDATE: My coworker just told me that these were not “plain” like I had assumed.. which makes me which I had actually grabbed one of each.. oh wells. There’s always next year!
  • Vanilla Custard-filled Eclairs – the custard was good, but the eclair was nothing to right home about. I think I’ve had better eclairs from a Vietnamese Bakery, but it was nice that they added a dessert that wasn’t some form of cake.
  • Chocolate Cupcake – your basic chocolate cupcake.
  • White Chocolate Mousse Squares – this one confused Michele and I a bit because it seemed like just a chocolate cake when we ate it, no white chocolate or mousse in site. Perhaps mislabeled? UPDATE: Apparently, the white chocolate mousse was the layer inbetween the chocolate cake layers.. but there was so little that I didn’t even notice it.
  • Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding – the bread pudding was good, but very custardy. I think they made it in a water bath (lending to the texture).. I wished it was a bit more firm. I did like that they used croissants for the “bread”.. it makes it more buttery and delicious.
  • Chocolate Fudge Cookie S’mores – the marshmallow on top was DELICIOUS.. but the fudge cookie on the bottom was HARD. Would have been better if it was a fudge brownie… but maybe the chef was going for the different textures..
  • Chocolate-covered Macaroons – tasted like a good Mounds.
  • Banana Chocolate Mousse Cake – This one threw me off a bit.. the banana flavor was a lot stronger than I was expecting. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t really in the mood for banana.
  • Chocolate-covered Peanut Caramels – I didn’t get to try this one, but Michele wasn’t a fan. Perhaps because it was one of the last things she ate and she was all chocolated out…
  • Milk Chocolate Cheesecake – I dont’ remember this one, perhaps I didn’t eat it?
  • There was one thing that I know I didn’t try.. and I can’t remember what it was called… but it looked too exotic so we skipped it. UPDATE: My coworker told me that the one we skipped (that sounded too exotic) was actually one of her favorites that night.. Which teaches me that at a buffet, EVERYTHING deserves a taste.

Along side all the desserts were these amazing chocolate sculptures. I especially liked the chocolate fish and the basket of roses.

Abstract chocolate sculpture with various chocolate desserts

Chocolate Fish ... so cool!

Close up of Chocolate Fish

Chocolate Rainbow Fish

Truffle Table with Rose Basket

Close-up of Chocolate Roses

Another abstract chocolate sculpture

By the end of the night, Michele and I had had our fill of chocolate desserts.. and table full of plates to prove it.

A chocolate battlefield..

Those desserts really didn't stand a chance..

The Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel is only open for the month of February. Apparently, 2011 is the third year that they’ve put on the Cocoa Lounge, and it has been a huge success! I don’t know why I had never heard of it before, but I’m hoping that I can make this a February tradition for many years to come.

Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel
(Inside the Palm Terrace Restaurant)
690 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tues – Sat, 6PM – 10PM, until Feb 26th
Price: $18 per person
Call for reservations: 949-760-4920

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