The dark chocolate chile burnt caramel, and milk chocolate cardamom rose petal.
  • The dark chocolate chile burnt caramel, and milk chocolate cardamom rose petal.
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It's time to admit I've been holding out on Feast! readers for years. I've had a perfect little after-dinner date spot in my back pocket, one that's literally helped me end many an evening with a lasting and sweet impression. I wouldn't expect it to be any big secret, but more often than not over the years I've found it an uncrowded, quiet, and intimate place to drop by after 9pm. And I don't even order alcohol.

Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro

2145 Fern Street, South Park

I'm talking about Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro, and specifically about its menu of drinking chocolate. Yes, most places would call it hot chocolate, but like many of its offerings, Eclipse earns the distinction by taking the classic beverage to another level. Eclipse is best-known for artisanal candy bars and confections and, compared to pedestrian hot chocolate, this drinks richer, with heavy doses of legit chocolate and tantalizing flavor additions. Even those rare times my personality's failed to impress, drinking chocolate has always come through. It might even work for married people.

Self-interest has prevented me from writing about this before, and it's also self-interest that compels me to talk about it now. Last week, owner Will Gustwiller revealed on Facebook that Eclipse may be on the brink of closing after 12 years.

Not for lack of business, but due to a tech-assisted retail issue. Back in April, the shop switched credit card processors at the same time it parted ways with its accountant. In the six months subsequent, a glitch in the new system failed to process an estimated 4500 charges.

That's four thousand, five hundred — a potential six-figure mistake that could sink the neighborhood favorite. So we're looking at a situation akin to clapping for Tinkerbell here. If you believe in Eclipse, now's the time to clap: grab brunch, attend one of its build-your-own candy bar nights, or stock up on discounted holiday gifts to help one of San Diego's top confectioners recover from this mess.

I'm counting on that drinking chocolate. Especially since the menu has expanded to include ten flavors, each made with a choice of rice, soy, or actual milk. My favorites include the luxurious double dark cocoa, chile burnt caramel, and salted dulce de leche, while a recent date swears by the fragrant cardamom rose petal. Regardless — and I can't stress this enough — ask for a marshmallow.

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