Friday, May 24, 2013

The Chocolate Room, Ghatkopar, Mumbai

While I believe that Indians don't care much about chocolate, the mushrooming chocolate cafes in the country seem to suggest otherwise. One example is the wildly popular chocolate cafe chain, The Chocolate Room, which is originally Australian, and just seven years old! Thanks to its franchise model, the cafes are now found all over the world, notably India. India has over 50 such cafes in India, with around eight in Mumbai itself. The master franchisee for India is Ahmedabad-based Vikas Punjabi, and the Mumbai, Ghatkopar cafe is owned by Kapil Aggarwal. Interestingly though, it was The Chocolate Room, Ghatkopar's social media handler, Sundeep Dawale, who invited me for a review. Needless to say, I was thrilled!

I reached this cozy little cafe, located wonderfully on a busy circle in Ghatkopar, making it impossible to miss. It's a snug little arrangement with just three tables, and gets pretty crowded in the evenings when people walk in for their desserts post dinner, but I don't think anyone's complaining because their stuff is so fantastic. 

Upon entering, the product counter seduces you in upfront with sinful-looking chocolate cakes and pastries lined up, while a product-display shelf called 'The Chocolate Shop' entices you with other offerings to your left. Odds and ends like chocolate gift boxes, warming mugs, fondue pots, cuddle cups and chocolate bouquets are there for customers to buy.

I also noticed this quaint little chocolate Taj Mahal on the counter, which is apparently a popular gift of choice for young people (in love). The half kg 'monument' costs something like INR 600 and I thought it was very cute!

I was greeted by Sundeep, who told me how he became part of The Chocolate Room story. He was a regular customer at the cafe, and eventually his passion for chocolate and acquaintance with Kapil got him involved with the cafe's social media activities. It was with his guidance that I began the difficult task of choosing from their vast and reasonably-priced menu. As you can see here, they have a huge selection of hot chocolates, teas, pastries, shakes, frappes, waffles, sundaes and coffees.

I, of course, went into my 'Charlie in the Chocolate Factory' mode and wanted to order everything. I think I covered a big base because I sampled a Choco-rum shot, a Chilli-infused Hot Chocolate, a Lindt Dark Chocolate Shake, an M&M's Milk Chocolate Shake, a Chocolate Avalanche, a Hazelnut Praline and Chocolate Tarts. And for those wondering, this shameless list had less to do with my gluttony and more with Kapil Aggarwal's generous hospitality. Here is what I thought of all I sampled:

The Choco-Rum Shot:Very sweet and very intense, the Choco-Rum shot is a drink of molten dark chocolate spiked with a rum flavour. Served in shot glasses, this is a drink for those who can handle strong flavours. I wish the rum were real, though. :)

Chilli-infused Hot Chocolate: Because hot chocolate has disappointed me in most places, I was keen to see how The Chocolate Room fares with it. I picked the chilli-infused hot chocolate to see if they could balance this tricky spice while keeping the taste of chocolate intact. The drink arrived in a cuddle cup and pretty much won me over after I took the first sip. While the chocolate was not very rich, the amount of chilli was just right. I can imagine how wonderful this warming beverage be on a winter evening.

Lindt Dark Chocolate Shake: Shakes at The Chocolate Room are pretty popular, and I therefore tried not one but two of them. I ordered a Lindt Dark Chocolate Shake first, which arrived in a tall glass, garnished with a piece of a Lindt bar. The shake was thick with whipped cream, milk, chocolate sauce and crushed Lindt chocolate. While the taste was great, I did not enjoy the graininess that came from the crushed chocolate and overall, the texture was a little too overwhelming for me.

M&M Chocolate Shake: Because one must also do justice to milk chocolate, we ordered the M&M's Chocolate Shake. Similarly blended as the Lindt Shake, this has milk, cream, chocolate sauce, crushed M&Ms, topped with whipped cream and M&Ms. This one was much sweeter, and seemed somewhat smoother than the Lindt shake. A fan of dark chocolate as I am, I found this the better of the two.    

Chocolate Avalanche:As the name explains, the Chocolate Avalance is a decadent dessert and one of the  most popular things on their menu. With chocolate mousse pudding, chocolate-walnut brownie, Dutch Truffle pastry, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, chocolate shavings and chocolate sticks going in it, it is a chocolate lover's dream come true. Extremely rich, this dessert is best had on special occasions and with special people. I give it a 4.5/5 rating.

Hazelnut Praline: I was nearly dead from chocolate overdose by the time I sampled the aforementioned things, but Kapil insisted I try the Hazelnut Praline. I gave in to their only chocolate-cream based dessert and lost myself in the rich hazelnut textures and flavours. While I found it a wee bit hard, the taste more then made up for it.

Chocolate tarts: I must have died and gone to chocolate heaven by then, when Kapil suggested I try the tarts too. I said I would collapse if I ate anymore chocolate, so he said he'd pack some for me to take home.  I did and tried them this morning with a palate that had had ten hours of rest. And I was blown away all over again by The Chocolate Room experience.

Kapil Aggarwal and Sundeep Dawale

The only way to sum it all up is GO TO THE CHOCOLATE ROOM, GHATKOPAR NOW!

PS: I was given a bar of chocolate and a box of truffles and pralines too, but those will be reviewed in another post very soon.

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