Mike A. Bryan, A&E Editor
Technology and creativity combine to make magic at the newest dining destination to open in the Cortex District, The Chocolate Pig, with chef Tyler Davis as executive pastry chef. Davis has been cooking for about eight years, starting out on the savory side of the kitchen. After landing a gig as the garde manger for The Crossing, he worked in numerous other kitchen positions, paving his own path in the St. Louis dining scene. Davis gained national attention when he appeared on the Food Network’s third season of Halloween Baking Championship, and was nominated for Feast Magazine’s Top Pastry Chef of the Year. He started working on the sweeter side of the kitchen as a pastry chef about two years ago at Element Restaurant and has been creating magical experiences ever since.
The Chocolate Pig is more than just desserts, however, and even has vegan and vegetarian options. There is chocolate-covered bacon, which is not to be missed, along with a creative and varied drinks menu. The dining room is open and modern with a few semi-private booths. There is also quite a large bar area with tall tables for people who don’t want to sit in the dining room. I had two opportunities to dine at The Chocolate Pig for their soft openings and was impressed by the staff, the service, the decor and the food. We tried the Beer Braised Mussels in an IPA and green chile broth as our starter, and the mussels were perfectly cooked. The broth could have been spicier in my opinion, but will probably be flavorful enough for most diners. For my main course, I had the Duck Confit Cassoulet, which was a bit of a modern twist on the classic French dish. The duck was perfect, and the beans and greens accompanied it nicely. For dessert, Davis made a coconut-based white mocha ice cream using nitrogen and garnished it with nitrogen-frozen berries and flower petals. The presentation alone was impressive, but the flavor was incredible. I couldn’t even tell that it was a completely nondairy dessert. If you have allergies, like I do, they are able to accomodate the most common allergies.
Davis’ favorite dessert to eat is key lime pie and he loves making cheesecakes, but he truly enjoys the process of creating new desserts and sees them as “babies [he’s] giving up for adoption.” The dessert list at The Chocolate Pig has a wide variety of selections with a strong focus on 23 City Block Hospitality Group’s sister company, Bissinger’s chocolate. Ready for this next challenge, Davis sees his work with The Chocolate Pig as the perfect opportunity to showcase his skills. Those skills will actually be on display at the restaurant where Davis and the dessert staff have their own show kitchen with bar seats. Reservations can be made for these seats where diners can get a firsthand look at the magical dessert processes, including all of the gastronomic technology that Davis incorporates into the recipes.
In Davis’ opinion, the signature desserts at The Chocolate Pig are the “Chocolate Pig Candy Bar” and the “Milk and Cereal.” The second dish is a twist on a dessert created by famous chef Christina Tosi, with nitrogen-frozen and caramelized pork rinds serving as the cereal. While these two desserts are impressive, the boozy milkshakes are also not-to-be-missed (also available sans alcohol). Insider information hints at not-to-be-missed future plans by chefs Davis and Patrick for chocolate-tempering classes, molecular dining experiences and eventually special event dinners. The Chocolate Pig is now open in the Cortex Innovation District, in the building known as 4220. Make your reservations at https://www.usereso.com/book/restaurant/the-chocolate-pig or by phone at 314-272-3230 and make sure to stop by the dessert show kitchen to see the magic of this up-and-coming pastry chef.