The Palm Terrance Restaurant presents the ultimate dessert buffet for the Valentine’s Day season


Cocoa Lounge entrance

The green glow at the back of the Island Hotel’s Palm Terrance Restaurant looks as if you’ll find the Emerald City behind the closed French doors, however the private dining room is the short-time home to a chocolate paradise called the Cocoa Lounge.

The dessert bar is open nightly through Feb. 17, from 6 to 10 p.m., and showcases a rotating menu of about 25 cocoa concoctions each evening. The phenomenal selection of munchkin-sized desserts includes s’more cupcakes, chocolate Guinness pudding, a white chocolate margarita mousse, peanut butter squares, truffles and many other tasty treats. The Island Hotel said that nearly 350 pounds of chocolate will be used for the event.

Chocolate banana savarins

Prior to this year, the Cocoa Lounge was dimly lit for a more intimate appeal, but for 2013 the space has been transformed into a chic contemporary dessert bar. White benches, long ivory curtains and color-changing neon lights dress the room. Some shoppers have told the restaurant’s staff that they can spot the beckoning green light from Fashion Island.

The wizard behind the lounge’s design and many of the tasty confections is assistant pastry chef Andy de la Cruz.

“It’s funny because when the talk came up about what to do for the Cocoa Lounge this year, I wanted to base it on more of where the hotel is going. The whole new branding is all clean lines. If you see the hotel’s logo, it’s different from what it was before. That inspired me on what I wanted to do,” said de la Cruz.

The chocolate sculptures were made with the same clean lines. De la Cruz’s favorite is the “CL” one, representing the Cocoa Lounge.

Chef Andy de la Cruz

In addition to the new décor and menu of chocolaty goodies, is the live-station concept. Thursday through Saturday nights, a pastry chef will make guests treats-to-order such as, chocolate nachos, hand-dipped ice cream bars and strawberries and crepes.

Pastry assistant Hannah Nenadov works the new chocolate station. Even some of her creations made it onto the menu, such as the Guinness pudding.

Special libations on the menu include two signature martinis. The “Valentine Kiss” is made with white crème de cocoa, Red Hots candies and is garnished with a cinnamon stick. The other, the “Espresso Be Mine,” is made with coffee bean infused vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream and is garnished with a rim of cocoa.

There are a few different ways you can enjoy the Cocoa Lounge. If you have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Palm Terrace, the price is $12 per person. To enjoy only the Cocoa Lounge the price is $18 per person. For $50 per person, you can get your choice of two bar drinks or three 2-oz. flights. The bar options include choice of wine, Champagne or port. Valet parking is free with validation.

Reservations are recommended, seeing as Nancy Luna’s Orange County Register story has made the event all the more popular.

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

By Nicole Lyons


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