After doing my shopping at Borough Market, the most beautiful market for all things food related in London, I stopped at Rabot Estate for a hot chocolate. Rabot Estate is owned by the owners of Hotel Chocolate, a chain of chocolate stores found around the city. The Rabot estate itself is found on the island of Saint Lucia where they have a programme that links 80 independent cacao growers.
I like the feel of the place. It has a raw feel to it, lots of browns and blacks and dunlap bags with the name of the place printed on them in black ink. Half the space is a chocolate store with a wide range of options for all tastes. The other half is the café that serves a range of drinks including a few different options for hot chocolate; classic, cinnamon and chilli.
The service was shockingly bad. I waited near the bar for a while the waitress served someone in the chocolate shop part…no problem. Then she came over and served the person who came after me…ok. Then she left again and served someone else who had just arrived in the chocolate shop area. Finally after 10 or so minutes she served me without any apologies or anything. If I hadn’t really wanted to try this one ……!
When my turn is finally up I order the hot chocolate with chilli. It comes to me in a small compostable cup (there was no where to compost it after in the store so nice thought but not so useful). I take a few sips in store and then take my little cup of hot chocolate for a walk along the Thames.
I loved this hot chocolate, loved it. It was a fascinating experience. The hot chocolate has an intriguing kick of chilli that lingers at the very back of my mouth. It’s addictive; I keep wanting to take sips, and I do! It isn’t too thin, or thick, not too sweet. They give you the perfect amount, by the time the hot chocolate has turned cold, its all done, and I’m happy.
Verdict: The hot chocolate with chilli is fantastic…and addictive. I highly recommend it Rabot Estate, 2-3 Stoney Street, Borough Market, London, UK £2.75
The chances of any of you ending up on the campus of the University of Warwick are probably quite slim unless you are a student. But here, in the middle of campus lies a magical little café with a fantastic name…Curiositea.
I am jealous of the students who get to experience this little jewel everyday. The café looks and feels like a cupcake, pastel colours, pinks, faded yellows. Today the frontpart of the store is taken up by a second hand clothing store, clothing that is as pretty as the store itself.
But the reason I am impressed is because Curiositea has a whole menu dedicated to hot chocolate! Finally! Where have you been all my life! I find it impossible to choose. I have to let people behind me in line go first as I try to decide between Death by Chocolate (An intense dark chocolate shot for all hardcore chocolate fans), extra special hot chocolate (Delicious hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, flake, chocolate sprinkles, maltesers and fudge pieces) or a Chocolate snowball (a smooth and creamy white hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa).
I finally choose the Nutella hot chocolate and take my cup outside to enjoy the sunshine. Surprise surprise, my hot chocolate tastes just like hot Nutella with hot milk. I love Nutella, I will eat it by the spoonful so why I hadn’t thought about how much better it would be as a hot chocolate…who knew.
Verdict: Curiositea doesn’t just have a great name, they have good hot chocolate too. It is refreshing and fun. I would make a detour to come back here. You guys need to expand to be near me! Curiositea, University of Warwick Campus, UK.
It is tough to review Benets because it is one of my locals. A week was never complete without at least one hot chocolate at Benets. Saturday and Sunday never started before spending at least 30 minutes sitting on the terrace outside, sipping my hot chocolate while watching Cambridge walk by (often my evenings also didn’t end without a few scoops of their incredible homemade icecream either, one of the best I’ve had!)
From their terrace you have Kings College in front, the senate to the side and the lovely and vibrant Cambridge market behind. If you get there early enough they have a few pain au chocolate which taste like they were brought over directly from Paris (which probably explains why they never last).
Benets hot chocolate is like a good friend. Some days I love it, other days I can’t stand it. Everyday it tastes different. Benets has a constant stream of new Baristas and they all seem to prepare the hot chocolate in slightly different ways. Sometimes it has too much chocolate, other times not enough. You never know exactly what you are going to get. It also comes in a very big mug which is generous but more than one need and they are also generous with their marshmallows and whipping cream if you so desire.
The flavour, when they get it right is great. It is easy to drink, not overly sweet and made from real chocolate. This combined with a seat outside early in the morning on the terrace is one of my favourite ways to start a day.
Verdict: Go to Benets and say that the girl who always drinks hot chocolates sent you. It’s one of my favourites. Benets, Kings Parade, Cambridge, UK
The Fort is the oldest pub on the river Cam with parts of building dating back to the 16th Century. Its name comes from its resemblance to the fort St.. George in Madras India which was the first British fort in the colony.
The fort has changed a lot over the years. Every time there is a new manager things change quite a bit, including the hot chocolates. I have had 4 different types of hot chocolate at Fort Saint George and they have always been good.
The Fort itself could be a much better pub but it’s location is incredible. From one side you have a view of Midsummer Commons where in the summer months you can watch the cows munching on grass. From the other side of the Fort you can sit along the river cam and watch the house boats and ducks. Inside grab a seat next to the fireplace to warm up on a cold wet day.
Verdict: Grab a seat outside right along the river cam to enjoy your hot chocolate while watching the swans. Fort Saint George, Midsummer Common, Cambridge, UK.
I have passed this little chocolate store thousands of times in the past few years but never stopped. The reason? I’m not a big fan of chocolate. Surprised? My brother hated onions when he was young but loved onion bagels so this kind of behaviour runs in the family. Something happens to chocolate though when you add hot milk and a nice view. It becomes magical.
I have known for years that this little chocolate shop also sells hot chocolate. Right near the front they have a little machine that mixes it and keeps it hot. I never tried it because I feared it would just be too sweet. The whole stores smells sweet, gorgeous but sweet.
I finally tried their little shot today. The paper cup it comes in is really quite small and since there is no where to sit there, I walk outside trying not to spill it. I take my first sip. This little shot is pure sweet chocolate, it is by far the sweetest hot chocolate I have and am ever likely to taste in my life. I took a few more sips to see if I might get used to it and enjoy it more. I didn’t and couldn’t finish it.
Verdict: If you have a serious sweet tooth you will love this shot. If not skip the hot chocolate and try the homemade ice cream. The store is so cute anyways that it is worth a look around regardless. Chocolate Chocolate, 21 St. Andrews Street, Cambridge, UK £1.50
Flatplanet has a range of flats made with organic English spelt flour from Sharpham Park farm in the West Country. The flats look so good, tomato sauce, chill, aubergines, with names such as El Diablo and Balearic Breakfast. If it wasn’t 7am I would have ordered one.
I loved the interior of this little spot. There is a warm industrial feel to the place (if that makes any sense). I am the only one sitting inside so from my little chair I watch the steady stream of locals coming in for a coffee.
Even though the hot chocolate was really not great I loved Flatplanet. The staff is over the top friendly. They treat everyone who walks in like they have known them for ever, introducing themselves and making jokes. It seemed like a big family.
Verdict: Come to Flatplanet for the flatbread. Don’t worry so much about the hot chocolate. Flatplanet, 39 Great Marlborough Street, London, UK
When I think about my favourite hot chocolates, the one at Princi always comes to mind. Several times a week I used to go into this busy Italian bakery/coffee shop and if I could find a place to sit (never easy) I’d order myself one. It is chocolaty, gooey and delicious and comes in a little espresso cup. It is thick enough that you can choose to drink it (slowly) or eat it with a spoon. I absolutely love this hot chocolate.
Then one day last year, they stopped serving this hot chocolate. It was in summer time so I just assumed it was something they only offered in the winter. Coffee drinkers get coffee all year long so why would hot chocolate only be for winter? Anyways I let it pass because their desserts are so incredibly delicious that they were a good temporary replacement.
Then one day hot chocolates magically reappeared on the menu. Fantastic, I’ll have one please. Problem is, it isn’t the rich, chocolately treat it used to be, they have changed hot chocolates.
The new hot chocolate is still very good, still one of the best in London, but I think the one they had before was better. I enjoyed this but I miss my old Princi Hot Chocolate. I hope that wherever it went, it is happy.
Verdict: Princi’s old hot chocolate was a contender for the Ultimate hot chocolate for sure, and while the new one isn’t quite up to that standard, it’s pretty good too. If you are in London you have to go here, the atmosphere is fantastic and the food is delicious. Good luck choosing a dessert! Princi, 135 Wardour Street, London, UK £3.50
I wasn’t going to stop for a hot chocolate this morning but when I passed by Lola & Simon I just had to go in. Only a few blocks from Stamford Brook Tube station in London, this restaurant/brunch/coffee spot advertises itself as serving Argentinean and New Zealand Cuisine. What a fascinating combination.
Lola and Simon was started by a couple, one a marketeer from Argentina and the other a lawyer from New Zealand. They named their restaurant after their dog Simon and his mate Lola who was rescued from the streets of Buenos Aires. Apparently the owners are accustomed to answering to those names as well.
The restaurant is pretty quiet at 9.30am. A few couples are sipping coffee, another is eating brunch (it looks delicious). When you enter there is a counter that is covered in beautiful cakes, brownies and cookies. The walls are lined with bottles of Argentinean wines.
I sit myself down and order a hot chocolate. Lola and Simon win the award for most artistic decoration using chocolate powder on a hot chocolate. It was quite complex and very pretty. When I finally did take a sip the hot chocolate itself was rather sweet, too sweet for my liking. I really liked this spot though even though I only spent about 5 minutes inside. I’m curious to come back for dinner to see what happens when you mix those two cuisines. I suspect that if you pair that with a nice Malbec it can only be good.
Verdict: A nice hot chocolate and a fascinating spot to stop for some food. I’m guessing you can expect a lot more beef and lamb and lots of good wine. Lola and Simon, 278 King Street, London, UK.