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Drink in the holiday at Bailey’s

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Expectations are a two-edged sword, especially on a holiday as full of hype and commercialized as Valentine’s Day. Everyone has a different idea of ideal, and it can be devastating if something goes wrong.

I don’t care what your date looks like, if you’re at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar you can chalk up your V-Day as a victory for 2013. Just squint through the dim lighting as you peer over a dessert martini and pretend you’re with Bradley Cooper or Beyoncé.

Okay, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but trust me, this place is incredible. For a stellar date night, I’d recommend making a simple, light dinner at home for your sweetheart and then going to Bailey’s Chocolate Bar for drinks and dessert. Even if cooking is not your forte, you can go for the main event as well as the grand finale. Moderately-priced pizzas dominate their savory menu, with variations sure to please any palate. A sucker for spinach, the Park Avenue caught my eye. It is a pizza topped with tomato jam, red onion, goat cheese and lots of the lovely leafy green. For $8 it, or any of the other dinner options, would be a wonderful way to ease into the evening at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar.

In a perfect world, I would just skip dinner and get on with the chocolate.

The restaurant, situated in Lafayette Square, is not even a 10-minute drive from campus. A cozy and inviting atmosphere, you’re welcomed into the bar not only by the friendly staff, but also the decadent, earthy smell of chocolate. With tables hidden in every nook and cranny, the numerous rooms are filled with the happy chatter of patrons. A quiet table might be hard to come by on Valentine’s Day, but your best bet will be farther back in the restaurant, a couple of twists and turns away from the bustling entrance. Then again, if you want to catch a show, cozy up to the bar and watch the bartenders as they make one of the dozens of unique dessert cocktails.

Brimming when they arrive to your table, the drinks are truly noteworthy to behold. Leaning into my signature hot martini, I was greeted by the enticing aroma of chocolate as I cupped the glass and took my first sip. Hold the phone, shut the front door and please, just give me a moment.

I was floored first by the flavor and then by the quality. The luscious texture flowed effortlessly, warming me from the inside out. Top-shelf bottles ensured that there was never a sharp burn of alcohol, and that made the martini all the more lethal. A friend decided to try the chai tea martini, which blended ice cream, chai and RumChata for a delicious cold concoction. Though starkly different from my own martini, the chai was equally decadent.

When the waiter comes to take your table, take ease in that they will surely return in mere moments with a wonderful drink. There’s no need to fret just yet because the true dilemma comes when you face the decision of dessert.

At Bailey’s they have a spectacular list of about 20 plated desserts that steal the show of the table. And it’s about halfway through your first drink and the first bite of your dessert when one stops caring what their date looks like. After a bit of a dilemma, our table finally decided on sharing the classic chocolate brownie and banana split.

Our waitress recommended we try the brownie, and now I know why, as it showcased all the decadence of Bailey’s Chocolate Bar. Exhibiting my favorite combination for desserts, the brownie was a perfect balance of fluffy yet dense, and molten but toasty. I can only imagine how much butter went into making a texture that perfect, but it’s Valentine’s Day, so live it up.

Even though the brownie itself was incredible, my favorite part was the impossible to replicate, bottom-of-the-plate sauce. As the scoop of Irish crème ice cream melted on the warm brownie, the yummy liquid mixed with the caramel to create a new sauce flecked with crumbs of chocolate. As that new crossbreed of sauce soaked  into the brownie, it made for the most perfect bite. If my words fail to describe the experience, just do yourself a favor and go get one.

Next, we broke through the layers of the Bailey’s Banana Split. My spoon glided effortlessly through the toppings and ice cream, yielded only slightly at the crack of the caramelized sugar on the banana, but then ran the length of the plate to scoop up the sauces and whipped cream. There was no fruity fluff on this split to clutter the plate, and I didn’t miss it for a minute. Made with a scoop each of Irish crème, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, it was a welcomed update to the classic banana split formula. While it may not have been quite as memorable as the brownie, it was still a delicious dessert for the ice cream lover.

Having visited a handful of times during my time at SLU, I’ve always been blown away at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar. For a delicious, if not ideal, Valentine’s Day, I am completely confident in trusting them to provide a spectacular evening. One word of warning: they don’t accept reservations, so you may want to get there a later at night after the parents have left to relieve the babysitters. Even if you are stuck with a 30-minute wait for a table, patience will be well rewarded!

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