Leesburg / Eclectic / $$$
We believe in food as medicine. And what better medicine is there than chocolate? Fortunately, it’s in practically everything at The Conche.
Not many restaurants are led by a pastry chef like Santosh Tiptur. Fewer still employ a master chocolatier like Sara Dobson. That is the cacao-driven magic of this unassuming restaurant in the Village at Leesburg.
Dishes that you’ve never seen with chocolate before have just enough for you to get the impact. Crispy calamari, bright and beautiful with Fresno chile aioli and pink pickled radishes, has chocolate stout in its batter. The flavor of the burger is grounded by a deep, dark chocolate barbecue sauce. The short ribs? They’re in a chocolate-espresso sauce.
It’s no surprise that the actual desserts are overwhelmingly of the chocolate variety and mind-bogglingly delightful. The Illanka, for example, centers on a dark chocolate butter cake and gilds the lily with chocolate cremeux and almond-cacao nib streusel, then gilds it some more with smoked chocolate ice cream. It might sound excessive, but it’s actually an adventure in pure pleasure, a swim in a chocolate fountain without the messy cleanup. And no doubt, you will be renewed—and full.
See This: Historical posters from French chocolate companies decorate the walls, but the real attraction is watching the chocolatiers at work behind a large window.
Eat This: Crispy calamari, harissa chicken, Illanka
When to Visit: Just a little bit of chocolate simply isn’t enough.