Vicki Bain spent 15 years in Belgium training to be a pâtissier and a chocolatier. She selects the purest and most local ingredients to use in her wares at Chocoloza, and so everything at this lovely space is fresh and good in every way. These are the best hand-made chocolates imaginable, with no preservatives. They’re all made to eat slowly (or wolf down) here or at home.
Go over to the counter and choose your selection of three, five or eight to eat right away from the exciting feast of flavours. Many chocolates are purely seasonal, like raspberry – and best you hope the basil-and-lime or the utterly surprising granadilla are still in stock when you get there. There are also other fruit and herb fillings, and some non-seasonal flavours, like Salty Tango, which is a mix of dark chocolate, salted caramel and macadamia, as well as Amaretto, Amarula, whisky, fresh mint, utterly divine marzipan and coffee. Some treats use single-origin chocolate hand-made into beautifully constructed confections, like the perfectly wonderful Madagascan domes with a marbled shimmer. Most of the chocolates use a base of Callebaut, except for the dark ones, which are Valrhona.
Irresistible as these chocolate are, should you order some to save for another day, they will be beautifully boxed, wrapped and beribboned to take away.
It’s no surprise to find decadent and deluxe hot chocolates on the menu, which you compose yourself. After you order any of six options, arranged by hue (dark, medium or light), which corresponds to the amount of sweetness, or by single origin (Java, Abinao, Madagascar), a tray is brought over to your table in the lounge. On it will be a delicate mug of steaming, delicious, full-cream, sustainably farmed Mooberry milk, a little balloon whisk and a bowl of buttons of your choice of chocolate. You whisk in as many as you like, stirring the thick brown loveliness to a drinkable consistency to slip down the throat. It is an unforgettable experience.
Chocolate tea is also an option, made with raw chocolate nibs, as well as lactose-free hot chocolate and excellent African-origin coffee from Bean There. One customer comes in regularly to lunch on a coffee with half a dozen chocolates, savouring them very slowly while gazing out of the picture windows at the passing 44 Stanley show.
The waitresses explain the menus on the Chocoloza blackboards. (They have entertaining messages like, “Chocolate gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy; happy people don’t kill their spouses.”) Vicki often does a round of the happy people. Of course, she knows everything about every bean.
The Chocoloza slogan is Seriously Belgian – Naturally African and the surroundings reflect this, eschewing the old French hatbox look for a palette that’s more earthy orange and rich brown. Past the entrance display you can see the chefs at work in the glass studio beyond. The chocolate lounge, filled with orange leather armchairs and low tables, feels warm, relaxing and calm.
With every hot chocolate comes a gift of chocolate on a special presentation block. Either you choose one or you can ask them to surprise you.
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