A new modern eatery just debuted inside Venture Cafe’s Innovation Hall in the Cortex Innovation Community complex. The Chocolate Pig opened on Nov. 8 as a counterpart to the Midtown drop-in workspace and will offer locally inspired, elevated comfort food for lunch and dinner alongside creative desserts.

As reported by Feast in June, the concept is the latest restaurant from 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, which also owns The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s, Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, Lumen Private Event Space and 23 City Blocks Catering. Executive chef Patrick Russell and executive pastry chef Tyler Davis oversee the kitchens.

According to 23 City Blocks’ vice president of marketing, Amanda Bradham-Little, The Chocolate Pig gets its name from the company’s cocoa-bean roots combined with Russell’s nose-to-tail cooking methods. The restaurant fills a 3,000-square-foot space with 120 seats. HOK served as the architect for the project, while Brett Clark of Savvy Surrounding Style carried out the vision for the sleek interior design.

The contemporary space echoes the architecture of the area, with thoughtfully planned textures, curves and geometric patterns. Industrial pendants illuminate a dessert bar, where sweets are crafted in the dining area. According to Clark, neutral tones throughout the room provide a backdrop to showcase the kitchen’s colorful dishes.

Highlights from the dinner menu include mainstays such as a grilled bone-in pork chop with miso mustard, candied sweet potatoes and braised collard greens. A bacon flight with herbed white chocolate ties the concept together, featuring bold flavors such as beef belly bacon with sweet soy, quick kimchi and sesame.

For lunch, choose from items including The Hot Mess  a roasted sweet potato topped with pork barbecue, white Cheddar cheese, crispy kale and buttermilk dressing. Beet ceviche is an inventive shareable dish available throughout the day, featuring garlic and lime marinated beets, avocado puree, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and crispy tortillas.

Playful nostalgia-inspired desserts include plated treats like Milk & Cereal with malted milk ice cream, caramelized pork rinds, dulce de leche and caramelized bananas. The Peanut Butter Bomb is another highlight, featuring a dark chocolate, peanut butter and berry bomb with peanut butter cookie crumble and a warm mixed berry compote. From the bar, choose from six rotating drafts, wine and a selection of cocktails such as the 30 Minute O with Jamaican rum, Overproof rum, crème de banane, white cocoa, lemon and egg yolk.

“I’m excited to share my style of food and my influences,” Russell says. “We’re hoping to offer something totally different than what other people are doing. We’d like to be unique and innovative like the Cortex and constantly evolve.”

“And I just want to give everyone in the building diabetes,” Davis says, with a laugh.

The Chocolate Pig is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm as well as Friday through Saturday from 11am to midnight.

The Chocolate Pig, 4220 Duncan Ave. (inside the Cortex Innovation Community), Central West End, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.272.3230, thechocolatepig.com

Mabel Suen is the St. Louis contributing editor for Feast.

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