Chocolate Lab's Amazing Non-Chocolate Dishes

The Recchiutis' new cafe makes willing lab rats of us all

Despite Chocolate Lab's name, it's possible to avoid chocolate altogether.

In fact, there are quite a few distractions to tempt you away from the main course at Michael and Jacky Recchiuti's new Dogpatch cafe. By "main," of course, we're referring to pastries, like the bi-level chocolate mousse cake ($10), mandarin orange haunting its flavor.

Michael worked as a pastry chef for decades before launching his eponymous chocolate company in 1997, and he says he's having fun playing with sweet and savory pastries again.

Inspired by Poîlane's Cuisine de Bar in Paris, Chocolate Lab serves tartines, open-faced sandwiches served on toasted slices of wholegrain or sourdough bread from Firebrand Artisan Breads, in addition to the sweets. The toppings can be as classic as thin slices of country ham and melted triple-crème cheese ($12) or as unexpected as a wonderful vegetable frittata ($10) topped with minted salsa verde.

If you decide, after your savory appetizer and thick slice of cake, to bring a cookie plate ($5) back to the office with you, you can always consider it your real dessert.

Chocolate Lab, 801 22nd St. (at Tennessee St.); 415-489-2881 or