I think Juliette and I would get along. Juliette started Juliette & Chocolate because she was frustrated she couldn’t find a hot chocolate that met her high standards, a nice thick one like her grandmothers used to make. She took her chocolate and crepe making degrees and set up shop now in several spots across Montreal. We visited her newest one on rue Ste. Catherine.
Rue Ste. Catherine is Montreal’s shopping heaven. There is block after block of stores both above ground and in tunnels underground, which are used all year round but especially in the winter to get away from the freezing temperatures. Perhaps this is why this location of Juliette et Chocolat is so massive. It is a huge room with long wooden tables, enough to sit tour buses filled with shoppers, to give them an extra kick in the middle of summer or warm them up through the long winter. At the front is a long counter filled with all sorts of generous chocolate creations; decadent looking brownies, truffles followed by a display of products you can buy to use at home such as single servings of their hot chocolates, spreadable chocolates and caramels. Two staff were buzzing around the café today, both wearing floppy red chef hats and aprons, both with big infections smiles. None of the food or drinks were made up front by them. Instead they go to a secret door way down the back of the café where I imagine there is a room filled floor to ceiling with all the different chocolate options where an army of chocolate specialists expertly put the chocolate creations together while listening to French Canadian singer Garou singing songs from the soundtrack of the French/Canadian musical Notre Dame. Not sure why, but that was my vision.
We arrived right when it opened at 11am and it slowly but surely it started filling up with people looking for crepes for lunch. We went straight for the hot chocolate menu because yes, they have a whole menu just of hot chocolates (a dream come true). The menu reads like a passionate love letter to hot chocolate “good chocolate, much like wine, presents the palate with subtle and surprising flavours that result from the type of cocoa used in its creation, from the way it was cultivated, and from the “terroir” it comes from. And just like fine wines, the taste of some chocolates varies from year to year depending on the crop.” It continues with a long list of options. To start with you have the traditional grandma’s style dark extra bitter, dark semi sweet, milk or white chocolates either extra thick or with added milk. There are the vintages made from selected cocoa beans, each hot with tasting notes for example Pure Caraibes 66% which has a woody taste with hints of dried fruits and roasted almonds. The next section lists the original vintages with a choice of chocolates by country for example Uganda, Peru, Mexico or Madagascar. The Plantation Vintages are made from cocoa beans sourced from a single plantation. You can also choose from a range of exotic sounding alcoholic chocolates such as the choco-mojito which is chilled dark chocolate, mint liquor and whipped cream. There are chocolate shooters and chocolate cocktails and even special cold chocolates with added fruits.
Today I decided to go with the Mangaro 65% from Madagascar, cultivated on a former mango plantation its tasting notes promised it would taste of mango with hints of gingerbread and citrus fruits. It was presented in a large whisky glass accompanied by a little square of freshly made fudge. I enjoyed sitting there trying to analyse the different flavours, much like I would do with a nice glass of wine. Each of the hot chocolates we ordered looked the same but tasted completely different. One would require more time and several visits to test out the different options to find which one excites or calms your taste buds the most.
I would be happy to put in the time to try them all, but I might not have the budget. A hot chocolate at Juliette et Chocolat cost us 12 dollars each before tax for a pretty small cup. I understand that the quality is high, but 12 dollars high? I’m not convinced.
Verdict: I have already planned which hot chocolate I am going to try next when I am back next year. Expensive but decadent. Juliette et Chocolat, 1626 rue Ste. Catherine, Montreal, Canada (with several other locations across Montreal)
Ultimate Hot Chocolate on this date…