HOT: Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington

fifty six threads cafe

Fifty-Six Threads is a social enterprise cafe located in the unlikely location at the bottom of a housing commission block in Kensington.

The cafe is a project for AMES, Australia’s largest provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services for refugees and newly arrived migrants. Fifty-Six Threads is AMES’ second catering enterprise, with the first being Sorghum Sisters, an African catering business.

Fifty-Six Threads’ name is inspired by its location (ie number 56 Derby Street) and the many cultural threads that run through the cafe and the local community.  During our visit on a rainy weekday it was fairly quiet but a diverse cross-section of clientele trickled in, from the postie to a local resident to families.

fifty six threads cafe

Given the dour exterior the cafe’s interior is modern and funky, with lots of geometric angles softened with beautiful pendant lights suspended from the ceiling.

fifty six threads cafe

Coffee comes from STREAT, another social enterprise based near Kensington, and the food is all made on site by a single (professional) chef.

fifty six threads cafe

The menu contains simple cafe classics at an unbeatable price. A huge home made sausage roll with delicious tomato relish is $3.50; the burger with chips is $13 and the generous French toast is $14.

fifty six threads cafe

The burger is a stand out as the home made patty is a loose conglomeration of mince and herbs, grilled to crusty perfection. It’s sandwiched between a floury bap along with fresh tomato, lettuce and beetroot (tinned unfortunately).

To enhance the community feel there’s a small bookshelf with children’s and adults books.

fifty six threads cafe

It’s actually a rotating library for the local community so that you can take the books away, with the polite request that you return them when you’re done.

Fifty-Six Threads is a simple, relaxing  cafe (with a funky Latin soundtrack on our visit) if you’re in Kensington looking for good value food and coffee with friendly service.

They also offer very reasonable catering with mini cakes/muffins at $3 per person and savoury finger food at $3 each and sandwiches/wraps at $7.50 per person. Best of all you know that your money is going to a good cause.


Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington (03) 9376 6885

Wed-Sun 7:30-3:30pm

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HOT: Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, cnr Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne

agathe patisserieIf you walked into South Melbourne Market last week your nose will have detected the new aroma of fresh, buttery pastry in the aisles. That’s because Agathé Pâtisserie, a Parisian-inspired patisserie and croissanterie, has just opened a permanent kitchen and retail store in South Melbourne Market.

Agathé Kerr’s pastries have gained a cult following since she started a little Saturday market stall in Prahran Market last year. The Parisian gained her professional pastry chef qualification at the prestigious Ecole de Boulangerie et Patisserie de Paris and had been making all her wares in a pop up store/lab in Windsor.

The new double-sized stall is clean and white, with the exposed kitchen baking fresh items daily behind the tempting pastry counter.

agathe patisserie

I ordered a classic pain au chocolat (with two luxurious sticks of chocolate inside), a brightly striped infused raspberry croissant, a classic escargot and almond croissant.

agathe patisserie

All excellent quality, with a buttery crumb, subtle flavours and airy layers of pastry.

agathe patisserie

There is one must-eat item on the menu. Agathé Pâtisserie’s famous cruffins ($7) are now piped to order with vanilla creme patisserie and topped with your choice of filling – on my visit, Nutella, salted caramel or peanut butter caramel.

agathe patisserie

agathe patisserie

agathe patisserie

For now Agathé Pâtisserie is focusing on their new premises and retail offering so there’s no wholesale orders to cafes. That means the only place to try these amazing pastries is at South Melbourne Market. Warning – on the first day of opening at South Melbourne EVERYTHING was sold out in 1 hour (9am!). So if you want to sample some of Melbourne’s best pastries you’ll have to set your alarm clock and get in early.


 

Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, corner of Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne 0403 222 573

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm or until sold out.

HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

dockyard williamstown

Food truck parks are even a bigger trend than food trucks in Melbourne at the moment and Dockyard is the newest one that’s set up inside Seaworks in Williamstown.

Dockyard is open every Friday night 5-9pm in July and August with a rotating lineup of five food trucks, of which at least one is a dessert option.

While the food choices are small Dockyard has a couple of advantages over other food truck parks in Melbourne:

(a) indoors, with heaters!

(b) scenic panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline – watch the sunset and enjoy the Docklands winter fireworks at 7:30pm;

(c) boats to admire, including the Sea Shepherd;

(d) free parking on site and in surrounding streets….

dockyard williamstown

…and of course everyone loves the value-for-money food that food trucks provide, especially on can’t-be-bothered-to-cook Friday nights!

The set up is inside the Seaworks  sheds and they’ve done wonders to turn a cavernous industrial space into a place that’s cosy and welcoming.

dockyard williamstown

The trucks are parked in a semi-circle and the ‘forecourt’ set up with furniture and games, including a couch with a cosy fireplace and milk crates galore.

dockyard williamstown

On our visit we sampled food from ToastaPizza Wagon and Smokin’ Barry’s BBQ, had a play of foozball and generally soaked up the atmosphere of having an adventure under the cover of darkness.

dockyard williamstown

On the last night of Dockyard’s winter opening, Friday 28 August, there will be a night market and buskers too.


Dockyard Food Truck Fridays, Seaworks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra

zumboSome days when I’m feeling blue, I thank god for Adriano Zumbo. His eponymous patisserie in South Yarra is a Willy Wonka riot of mirror, neon and cake and the long pastry cabinet never fails to lift my spirits.

When faced with so many fantastical desserts it’s hard to know where to start. But if you go on Tuesday I have a tip for you – for the foreseeable future you can buy one tart get one half price as part of ‘Two Tart Tuesday’.

zumbo

With that in mind I order the precisely swirled lemon meringue tart and the luxurious ‘Me So Nutty’ with gianduja caramel, milk chocolate gianduja soft ganache and topped with golden hazelnutszumbo

I also can’t resist a ‘Zonut’ with flavours that change every week. So popular are Zumbo’s version of the croissant/donut hybrid that customers are limited to only four at a time.

zumbo

As I bite into one I can understand why! The outer crust is so crisp and light I create an explosion of pastry crumbs with every mouthful, and the filling is so smooth and rich with  a Mexican dark chocolate – whipped ganache with hints of cinnamon and chilli. The topping? More chocolate and marshmallows!

For other treats I have also been known to queue for Zumbo’s macarons (Zumbarons) on occasion and they are one of the best I’ve ever tried due to their consistency and precision in texture. There is also hand-crafted ice cream or savoury pies, sausage rolls and quiches.

There are a few small tables and chairs inside the bakery where you can enjoy your coffee and cake on the spot, though during busy period it can get crowded so it’s more of a takeaway place. Taking one of the distinctive orange boxes out on the street will bring a spring to your step, I promise!

Adriano Zumbo Patissier is a joyride for Melbourne sweet tooths and if you enjoy those treats make sure you visit Fancy Nance around the corner, Zumbo’s new high tea salon which turns afternoon tea on its head.

Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra 1800 858 611

Open 7 days 7am – 7pm

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HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is an Italian-style warehouse cafe in North Melbourne, hidden at the intersection of two cobblestone laneways.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a labour of love for Frank, one of the co-owners, despite being a pop up for only 12 months (at this stage) as it sits at the back of the building that’s slated to be turned into apartments.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Frank fitted out the warehouse kitchen, storage and dining space all himself and he’s passionate about the food at Saluminsti. It has an authentic honesty about it and it turns out that all of the recipes on the simple menu are from Frank’s family. He wanted to bring to diners the sort of food that he grew up with and he’s taken these traditional dishes and given them a modern twist. My Italian companion remarked on how many of the dishes she also remembered from her childhood.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Currently the menu has three ciabatta options – a melt-in-the-mouth free range porchetta stuffed with artichoke paste, rocket and shaved pecorino ($12), a cotoletta just like nonna’s with a vincotto mayo, Italian coleslaw and provolone ($12) and a slightly spicy pork and fennel sausage with roasted peperonata and pecorino ($11).

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The ciabatta is quite remarkable – pillowy and soft and not so crusty it hurts your mouth. Frank wouldn’t divulge his secret supplier but did wax lyrical about the 36 hour proven dough and stone-baked bread.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The smallgoods hanging in the fridge are currently for show only – until they’re cooked they can’t be sold. It’s worth ordering the Salsiccia ciabatta just so you can try the pork and fennel sausage. Later the plan is to retail and wholesale the salumi and to run sausage-making and salami-making classes.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

We accompanied our sandwiches with a cup of patate fritte, crispy chips zhuzhed up with fresh herbs and reggiano ($5).

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The coffee is made with Italy’s favourite Lavazza and the cafetiere is a bargain – a traditional Neapolitan-style 2 cup with a syrupy crema on the bottom could easily satisfy 3 or 4 people and it comes with some sweet biscotti on the side for only $5.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Finally, try the sugar encrusted bomboloni, made fresh every day on site. These are Italian-style doughnuts so a bit denser than the standard American-style doughnut, but still very light.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Both the Nutella and slightly citrus crema paticcera are delicious.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a small Italian gem hidden in North Melbourne, a place brimming with enthusiasm and passion while serving up some authentic, old school Italian goodness. Buon appetito!

Saluminsti, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne 0413 082 253

Tue-Sun 7:30am-4pm

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HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Lygon food store

Lygon Food Store was a pioneer in Melbourne in the 1950s. This iconic Carlton cafe and food store opened 63 years ago as one of the first suppliers of imported products from Italy and it was the first shop in Lygon Street to serve Lavazza coffee.

Lygon food store

This unpretentious establishment has long been a favourite with uni students and academics for a casual breakfast or a hearty lunch.

Lygon food store

Their huge ciabattas and baguettes are excellent value (all under $10) and the glass cabinet holds a rotating mouth-watering selection of Italian meals, soups and salads.

lygon food store

The cartoccio, an oval mass of pizza dough, squidgy mozzarella and laden to overflowing with antipasti and charcuterie, is one of their specialities. It’s big enough to share between two or three, making it an economical lunch for $14.50.

Lygon food store

About a month ago Lygon Food Store opened its doors for dinner on Thursday to Sunday evenings.

I was invited to sample some of the dinner menu, which has an emphasis on Southern Italian cuisine mainly from Puglia, the region that owner Pasquale Coco knows best. Some of the recipes are from his family, some have been devised by Pasquale who is also the chef.

Lygon food store

The highlight of the preview was the serves of pasta and the risotto Milanese, all cooked al dente and adorned with the simplest of sauces to highlight the freshness of the ingredients. All the pastas and stone fired pizzas are under $20.

Lygon food store

There are just four main dishes to choose from – a veal osso bucco, rockling fillet, crunchy eggplant polpetta with spicy caponata and couscous and in a nod to on-trend ingredients, a light quinoa salad. Again, each of the mains was very reasonably priced under $30.

Lygon food store

While bright new eateries ensure that Lygon Street is ever-evolving it’s always nice to revisit old favourites. Lygon Food Store is a Melbourne institution for a reason and now you can enjoy their wares (and do your deli shopping) morning, noon and night.

Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton 03 9347 6279

Monday – Wednesday, 7am – 6pm
Thursday – Sunday, 7am – 10pm

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HOT: Bibelot, 285 – 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

Bibelot is a dessert boutique, artisnal paitisserie and gelateria that’s just opened in South Melbourne thanks to the creative team behind Chez Dre.

bibelot south melbourne

Bibelot is located next door to its sister cafe, with entry from Coventry Street. From the plain glass outside it’s hard to imagine all the amazing sweet things but once you step inside the room expands out into a Alice in Wonderland/Willy Wonka fantasy of chocolate, cake and ice cream.

I was invited to the preview night and returned on Mother’s Day of my own accord to try their high tea.

bibelot south melbourne

It’s hard to know where to start. On the right there’s a whole wall of artfully presented chocolate bars, packages of enrobed fruit and nuts, buttery biscuits, preserves and coffee and teas.

bibelot south melbourne

On the left is the gelati station, with a changing rotation of house made gelati and sorbets housed in pozzetti tubs – plus TWO chocolate taps.

bibelot south melbourne

I highly recommend the pistachio gelati, which is creamy, flavoursome and studded with real nuts.

bibelot south melbourne

Top it with some dark chocolate sauce that crackles as soon as it hits the cold and you’re onto a winner.

bibelot south melbourne

Head along the patisserie for delicate and beautifully presented jewels of cake, rows of pastel coloured macarons and hand made chocolates.

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

At the back of the store is the ‘high tea salon’ though you’re welcome to sit for a drink and a cake there as well. The plush emerald velvet banquettes and armchairs and matching greenery give it an opulent yet inviting air. If there’s no space left in the salon then you can still enjoy your treats on the outside tables or standing by the narrow bench, European style.

bibelot south melbourne

Bibelot’s Mother’s Day high tea offering was a test run for their future high teas, which will start Thursday to Sunday from June. For $95 (kids under 7 are free) I received a platter of gourmet savory treats with a bread basket filled to the brim, a mixture of French and Australian cheeses, Istra charcuterie and Mt Zero olive tapenade.

bibelot south melbourne

Next up was a pretty strawberry pot au creme then a quick roll into a platter of petits gâteaux (miniature versions of what’s available in the cake cabinet) and curiously flat miniature scones.

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

bibelot south melbourne

To end, two handcrafted bonbons plus throughout there was tea, coffee and a glass of champagne.

bibelot south melbourne

I was bowled over by the quantity and quality of the food – but at $95 I thought it was expensive compared to other high teas around town which are equally fancy. Other than the price my only other misgiving is that high tea at Bibelot is not a quiet, restful experience as the salon is at the back of the busy shop.

Bibelot brings the sensibility of a French patisserie to South Melbourne and it’s my new favourite destination for all things sweet. Judging by the roaring trade on Mother’s Day, it may already a favourite for other Melbourne sweet tooths (teeth?).

bibelot south melbourne

Bibelot, 285 – 287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Open 7 days, 10am – Late

Bibelot on Urbanspoon

HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

humble patisserie

Humble Patisserie is a sweet little cake shop and bakery in Hawthorn. While the store is humble in size (there are only a few tables and chairs tucked inside and on the pavement), the cake, pastry and  confectionery spread certainly is not.

humble patisserie

I love the super-cute fit out, with Orla Kiely wallpaper behind the counter and riotously up the ceiling and a large storybook rabbit wielding a baguette and wallpaper matching scarf.

humble patisserie

It’s the kind of place where it’s impossible to choose just one thing to eat. Everything is baked fresh daily on site. They are justly famous of their pastries, especially the almond croissant, and their homage to classic Australian biscuits and sweets such as the Wagon Wheel and coconut ice.

humble patisserie

If you have to whittle down your choices, I highly recommend the Kingston and one of their mini tarlets, a buttery biscuity crumb filled with creamy lemon curd or a rich peanut butter and chocolate ganache.

humble patisserie

Humble Patisserie wholesale to a few other cafes in town but I suggest you make a trip to visit this nostalgic little bakery for a sweet treat and a coffee using Axil beans.

Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn (03) 9818 2463

Mon to Sun 8am – 4pm

Humble Patisserie on Urbanspoon

HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

le jolie cafe

Get your waffle on with Le Jolie, a French cafe hidden in a small shopping strip in Pascoe Vale.

Those in the (waffle) know may have heard of Waffle Jolie, wholesalers of Belgian style waffles that sold out time and time again at Flour Market Fitzroy. Le Jolie is the permanent retail operation for the Waffle Jolie crew.

Before you say anything…yes, it’s not spelled the grammatically correct way ‘La Jolie’ but is Le Jolie because it’s an extension of Le (Waffle) Jolie.

le jolie cafe

Le Jolie serves breakfast and lunch with a French twist. Prep starts at 4:30am and all the items are made on site, with exception of the buttery flaky croissants which are bought in par-baked then baked every morning. The simple menu includes sweet and savoury tarts, tartines and daily lunch specials such as casserole and quiche.

le jolie cafe

The setting is just very charming. Inside is warm and cosy with dark timber floors, a nook of leather couches and a fireplace.

On a sunny day head out the back (past the small doorway to the hairdressing salon) and settle into the bucolic courtyard, with its lush canopy of vine leaves, a babbling fish pond with goldfish and wooden pallets turned green wall.

le jolie

I tried the Croque Monsieur with a rich bechamel sauce made with roasted garlic and fresh herbs from the garden pots ($13). It’s served with a rather limp leaf salad which could be made more interesting.

le jolie cafe

Make sure you leave for waffles – in fact, order them when you order your main meal. On our visit all the waffles had sold out by midday and we were lucky to get the last one because we’d ordered it with our lunch.

The waffles are made with a secret recipe of 10 ingredients and are Belgian style, meaning they have a lovely caramelised sugar crust and are denser than American waffles. Le Jolie’s waffles are almost biscuity in flavour and texture and not so dense that you couldn’t maybe fit in two…I also recommend not drowning your waffle in too many toppings – the simple house-made chocolate sauce is enough, or even plain to really appreciate the texture and flavour.

le jolie cafe

For other sweets I also highly recommend the pistachio croissant, a croissant slathered in pistachio paste inside and out and studded with raspberries and almond flakes.

And don’t miss their French hot chocolate ($4.50) which is a frothy whisked couverture concoction rather than a thick, gooey, Italian-style hot chocolate.

le jolie

Coffee is from the award-winning Melbourne microroaster Bambaleros and Le Jolie serves the No 6 blend.

Le Jolie is a lovely neighbourhood cafe which hits all the right notes in terms of food, setting and ambiance. The husband-and-wife owners work in the kitchen and on the floor and it’s obvious that they really care about their customers. The waffles alone are worth a visit!

Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale (03) 93799886

Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 7.00 am – 3.30 pm

Sat-Sun 8.00 pm-3 pm  

Closed Wed        
Le Jolie Cafe on Urbanspoon

HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

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If you enjoyed going on Easter egg hunts as a child then going on a gourmet chocolate tour has got to be the next best thing when you’re an adult!

For the last 20 years Chocoholics have run daily chocolate walking tours through Melbourne’s CBD, winding through laneways and arcades to find the artisan chocolatiers for which Melbourne is famous. I was invited to attend one of their tours, the signature ‘Bittersweet chocolate tour’ which included tastings of milk and dark chocolate at five different chocolate stores.

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The tour started off with a brief spiel by our personable guide about the origins of chocolate and the process of growing, harvesting and processing cacao. We were given some raw cocoa beans and cocoa nibs to try and then the real business of chocolate tasting began.

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First stop was Cacao Lab, a chocolatier opened by Frenchman Laurent Meric  designed to look like a new age laboratory.

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At Cacao Lab we were treated to a decorated milk chocolate with a nut ganache and a small shot of their intense hot chocolates, silently churning behind the counter.

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The bright colours and beautiful packaging of Cacao Lab lured me to purchase a half-dozen carton of their Belgian chocolate eggs. I also snapped one of their hot cross buns, recently crowned one of the best hot cross buns in Melbourne.

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Second stop was Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar, an American company with a few stores in New York, one in Dubai and one in Melbourne’s Emporium since October 2014. The store is very large, with lovely ironwork walls and a pastel and chocolate palette.

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The company is American but all the product is made in Melbourne and I noticed that they were selling Ingrid Tufts’ ceramicware as well.

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The recipes have been tweaked where necessary to accommodate Australian palates and some of the super-sweet American flavours haven’t made it on the menu. They use Callebaut chocolate and the aim of the founder, Alison Nelson, is to introduce American (and Australian) audiences to European style chocolate at a mid-range price.

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We tried some of their iced chocolates with a small slice of red velvet brownie, a cake-like morsel rather than a dense, gooey slab that I usually equate the American style brownies. Then we had a tasting of a very sweet peanut butter and jelly milk chocolate and a lavender milk chocolate.

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I also purchased a chocolate dipped Oreo (kind of like a Tim Tam actually) and my favourite, one of their selection of Asian flavoured chocolates, the bamboo macadamia jasmine dark log.

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Our third stop was Koko Black, a European style chocolatier which is credited with inspiring Melbourne’s love affair with high quality couverture chocolate over a decade ago.

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We watched the chocolatier in action by the window and then tried a strawberry milk chocolate and a silky drop of raspberry ganache inside a dark chocolate cup. Extremely rich without being cloying and so smooth on the tongue.

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The fourth stop was Haigh’s, an Adelaide-based chocolatier which is celebrating it’s 100th birthday this year.

When I first moved to Melbourne I was a bit bemused about how everyone raved about their chocolate frogs, which I thought were ok but not the sort of amazing quality I’d experienced in Europe. While their tour tastings were very generous – a dark chocolate palette, a milk chocolate palette and cinnamon and merlot chocolate – I’m still not a Haigh’s fan.

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Our final stop was Ganache, my favourite chocolatier in Melbourne. While I like the ambience of Koko Black’s flagship store in Royal Arcade, particularly the big cushy lounge chairs upstairs overlooking the passing crowd in the historic arcade, I think the quality of the product at Ganache is second to none. I have attended a masterclass at their South Yarra chocolate kitchen and seen how their work is done, so I am fully confident in the quality control of their product.

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At Ganache we were offered a hot drink and a full slice of one of their signature cakes, the hazelnut fan slice. I was desperately chocolated-out at that point but could not let such a beautiful cake go to waste.

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I had a wonderfully decadent afternoon with Chocoholics and I think that $49 is a very good price for the tour. A lot of ground is covered in the 2.5 hours, there’s a good selection of specialty chocolatiers to try and compare and you’ll certainly not leave hungry.

With several tastings at every stop there is a lot of chocolate to eat in one continuous sitting, so my tip is to skip lunch, drink a lot of water and bring a plastic bag/box to store away some of the tastings – they’ll be appreciated more later.

Note that one of the benefits of buying chocolate via the tour was that we received a discount at every chocolatier (other than Koko Black) which meant an extra excuse to indulge later!