Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
I hate to admit it, but I actually really liked the NBA City Restaurant…
I couldn’t possibly care less about basketball, but one night we were hungry and it was the one restaurant in Citiwalk that had immediate seating. We were seated in a cool couch/table combo and ordered some drinks and some very tasty flatbreads. But I think that right there was the problem – on a busy night in Citiwalk, none of the restaurants should be able to accommodate walk-ups immediately. It certainly didn’t seem to be the food, so I can only surmise that perhaps the theme wasn’t something people were crazy about (which should send up warning flags over at Disney Springs, but no one asked me).
Anyways, I can only imagine that with the increased crowds at Universal that started with the opening of Diagon Alley, it was becoming clear that a restaurant with that kind of prime location (closest to the gates of Islands of Adventure) needed to grab people. So in 2015, NBA City was shut down and an entirely new concept was put together…
Well, okay. Maybe calling the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen a new concept is pushing it. I definitely recall reading about a restaurant in Vegas that served lots of chocolate-infused foods (the since shuttered Max Brenner at Caesar’s Palace) and it’s not like they were the first folks to think about it.
What makes Toothsome stand out amongst that pack, though, is presentation. This is a pretty damn cool looking place, with its insane steampunk-aesthetic and an “everything is better when it’s bigger” mentality.
I mean, look at the size of that freaking menu!
Now, the restaurant was in a soft-opening mode when we went, so there were certainly elements that I’m not going to critique. We did see some character-actors moving through the dining area, but we weren’t close enough to really get any interaction with them. Honestly, I don’t really know how I feel about the whole “thematic-dining” experience – I haven’t had an experience that’s really swayed me one way or the other (unless you count that time a saloon girl started coming onto Josh at the restaurant at Ghost Town in the Sky. And when I say “saloon girl,” I of course mean “creepy old woman not at all unlike the woman in Room 237”).
We weren’t really starving, so we decided to play the appetizer game.
First up was the Warm Chocolate Almond Bread. This was delicious, and the salted caramel butter only made it better. At like $4 an order, this is definitely worth getting!
Karen ordered the Vanilla Chocolate Cocktail, which was a really nice mix of vanilla vodka and chocolate liqueur – really nice stuff. I went with a Chocolate Cherry Mule, which was made with a double chocolate vodka and brandied cherry. I found to be a bit too sharp for my tastes. Thinking back on the flavor profile, I think it was a case where the ginger beer was too strong (maybe made in-house?), and something else in it was causing that flavor to really hit wrong. I drink mules a lot, so to not care for this one was a bit disappointing.
These are their roasted brussels sprouts, which are served with a jalapeno mayo and dusted with chili powder. These were pretty good, assuming you already like brussels sprouts. If you aren’t down with eating little Audrey IIs, this may not be your thing.
We also got the Totchos, which were a lot of fun. There’s green chili, pork belly, and some andouille sausage cheese sauce. I would have liked some more of that cheese sauce, because it gets super scarce halfway through the dish and you’re stuck with like ketchup instead. The flavors here are too damn good to have to resort to dipping in ketchup.
Now, Toothsomes is known for their obscenely decadent deserts. The milkshakes are really popular (and big with the ‘grammers) – this one I believe is the “Cookie Jar” milkshake. The reason I don’t know for sure is because – and this is serious – I literally just came across this one sitting outside the entrance to Islands of Adventure. I have no idea why someone would abandon a damn-near untouched $13 milkshake, but here we are.
Instead of a milkshake, we opted to get the s’mores sundae. It’s only $10.50, and it was a much easier item to share than those cumbersome milkshakes seemed. It was more than enough for us to share – we were not able to finish. It was good, but honestly I feel like their desire to turn everything up to eleven tends to overwhelm the dessert. It’s that delicate line between being a delicious dessert and being a gluttonous dish, and when you’re dealing with stuff like this that line is stupid narrow.
There is a storefront as well, where you can pick up smaller packaged chocolates as well as interesting merchandise and souvenirs. It was super crowded when we were there, so this was about the best shot I could get of their counter.
All in all, I liked Toothsomes. It has a fun atmosphere and an interesting menu. The desserts are good, but they’re definitely not something you’d want to attack solo. Bring backup!