I had an opportunity to visit Chocolatea (pronounced choco-latte) the other day during my lunch hour - I figured any place that offered coffee and chocolate was a must-visit for me!
I must admit it was an experience getting to this place, I still cannot understand how people who live in the city get anywhere and parking is frightening. But I sucked up my suburban fear and after driving around for a little while trying to find a place to park, I finally found a spot near University Parkway and enjoyed a small hike up to the cafe which is located inside Ambassador Apartments.
After wrestling with a broken door knob, I stepped inside and was struck by a peculiar smell that was at first, not identifiable. It was not at all what I expected - dark, but cosy and warm, with coffee and chocolate aromas permeating throughout.
It was dim, but hardly warm and cosy - instead it was cold and well....kinda dingy looking. There was a weird color on the walls that do not do well inside on such a gray afternoon and the paintings (for sale) that were hanging, while bright and colorful did not stand out and did little to bring any cheerfulness to the interior. Perhaps on a sunny day - with some light streaming through the windows would liven it up a little.
I was a little hesitant, but the few people there seemed happy and content, but very focused on their newspaper and/or books. Since Hopkins is right around the corner, I was not surprised, but I was still a little weirded out by the eerie silence and trying to adjust to my surroundings. I was still trying to figure out the smell, I know it was some kind of Asian thing going on, and when I picked up the menu, I realized why.
My “in-my-mind-cosy-shabby-chic-throwback-coffee-and-chocolate-shoppe” was a noodle house??? Who knew....lol. I was actually relieved when I was finally able to distinguish the smells and noticed several people eating with gusto from bowls and I saw a little girl with her Mom using chop sticks and seeming to really enjoy being there!
I was greeted very warmly by the girl behind the counter and I was instantly put at ease - she was very helpful in answering my questions about the many offerings of teas and coffees - they have a great variety and I would have enjoyed spending time sampling, but I had such a hard time parking, I barely had time to order anything more than one of their “Coco-Lattes” - from their winter offerings board - “Almond Joy” and I chose one of their luscious-looking muffins - pineapple and coconut. The server told me they did not make them on premises, they were brought in, but did not offer any bakery name.
While waiting, I browsed around - they have a case to the left of the counter that was filled with chocolates of all types - but after determining they, like the muffins, were also “brought in”, I declined to try any. I'm a finicky chocoholic and was not feeling adventuresome.
Instead, I sat at one of the little tables and observed the other patrons.
The gentleman directly across from me was eating heartily from a steaming bowl of Udon noodles and was eventually brought a wrap - a beautifully presented and very fresh looking wrap. He noticed me looking and told me it was the “Chicken Salad Wrap” and was ”fantastic”. Another diner overheard our conversation and smiled and said her fave was the ”Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Wrap” and the ”Maguro Wrap” - seared sushi grade tuna, avocado, pickle ginger, cucumber, romaine and white chocolate Wasabi sauce. Although I am not a fan of fish, it sounded intriguing.
Besides the wraps and a few sandwich choices (all come with a side salad), they have a wide array of noodle and rice bowls and also a nice selection of dumplings. I would have like to have tried those, so made a mental note to check them out next time.
They also have a small “Veggie” selection - one of those is their version of the “Powerhouse” wrap , which has always been a fave of mine when I am feeling....well....veggie-ish. They use Feta cheese, instead of Havarti and a soy mustard vinaigrette as a dressing. They also have an “Energizer” wrap - which included avocado and Fontina cheese on a sesame semolina bread.
I like the creativity and thoughtfulness of their menu - this seemed like a great place to stop in and grab a bite and/or just relax with a coffee.
The muffin, while obviously not freshly baked, was moist and flavorful. It was a perfect accompaniment to my Almond Joy Coco-latte.
Ahhh......the Coco-latte....I saved the best for last. It took a few minutes of me waiting for the drink to be prepared, but what a treat!
I am not too sure what I was expecting, but it was beyond compare - wow! They use 100% real chocolate and infuse it with milk. They then add fresh fruit and/or spices to give it a perfect flavor. The best hot chocolate drink I have had in a long, long time and the creamy whipped cream on top just made it all the more luscious. There was just a hint of almond and coconut - not at all overwhelming the chocolate. There was not any nasty sediment left in the bottom of the cup and it was all I could do to not try to lick the inside of cup...lol!
It was just under $6.00 for the coco-latte and muffin.
They also have breakfast selections and the hours seem convenient enough. Would I come back? While I would not make a special trip after work or on the weekends as parking would seem insurmountable, I would brave the noontime traffic to pick up one of the wraps or try the dumplings, absolutely! If I lived nearby, I would definitely stop in often.
If only for another one of those cups of blissfully rich chocolate!