Artisan du Chocolat recently opened their new shop and chocolateria in Westbourne Grove and I was lucky enough to attend the opening night. I was definitely the proverbial child in a sweetshop, delighted by all the displays of truly beautiful chocolate around me, not to mention the chic ‘n’ sleek interior.
Arriving nice and early allowed me to grab some photos before the space became too crowded.
The orange and white theme was clean and energising, though I wondered how long the pristine white leather banquettes in the seating areas will last against the onslaught of sticky fingers and spilled drinks! Shelves and glass display cabinets show-cased the beautiful products and an active conching machine was amongst the quirky objects on display. The space itself was dominated by an enormous bespoke “plantation light” – a curved bell hanging from the ceiling, white on the outside and covered with the vivid picture of a cacao plantation on the inside.
The shop will sell the full range of Artisan du Chocolate products whilst the chocolateria menu offers a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and fine chocolate goodies to nibble.
Smiling staff handed out a selection of bespoke chocolate-themed cocktails (created by master mixologist Nick Strangeway, who was sporting a suitably wizard-like pointy beard) whilst others proffered chocolates, ice-creams and warm chocolate fondants.
Chocolatier, Gerard Coleman and area manager, Elise Thomassin chatted to guests and made sure everyone was drinking and sampling away. Gerard’s partner (in life and in business, as they say on their website), Anne Weyn, was also present and working mostly behind the scenes to keep drinks and goodies flowing; I don’t have any photos of her.
Having not tried Artisan du Chocolat products before, I’d been online earlier and made up my mind to buy a large box of Couture collection chocolates. Luckily, I arrived early enough for the staff to put together a selection based on my preferences. I must say that £19 for 30 chocolates of this calibre, presented in such an elegant box, is a very good deal indeed and one I could not resist.
During my visit I managed to try all of the different chocolates, including the original salted caramels, orange peels in chocolate and the truly marvellous praline feuillantine plus a warm chocolate fondant which provided the perfect balance of moist but firm cake filled with warm, liquid chocolate not to mention an iced chocolate granita and a Theobrama cacao pulp Bellini combining Prosecco with the pulp of the cacao fruit.
After sampling and snapping away for an hour, I received an unexpected surprise – on leaving I was given a beautiful goodie bag. When I delved into it (once safely ensconsed in the Tube), I discovered another box of 12 chocolates, a cacao pod/ fruit and a copy of Carole Matthews’ “The Chocolate Lovers’ Club”. Thank you very much; what a fun and generous gift!
I’ll be keeping most of the chocolates to myself (and posting a review, along the lines of this one about Paul A Young chocolates) but am offering Carole Matthews’ “The Chocolate Lovers’ Club” to a (UK-based) reader. Not one but two friends gave me this book when it was published – what does that say about my image as a chocolate fiend? I enjoyed the gentle story about four chocolate-loving friends who meet regularly in a cafe called Chocolate Heaven to share laughter and tears in equal measure.
You have till the end of the month to leave a comment on this post sharing your favourite food or drink recipe for chocolate. I’ll pick and announce a winner in July. Good luck!