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La Chocolatier reviewed

Helen Ramsbottom buries her face into chocolate in the Royal Exchange Arcade

Published on August 11th 2011.


La Chocolatier reviewed

Calling all chocolate junkies. There’s a new venue to feed your addiction open in Manchester. 

Wanting the works we ordered a Flaming Turtle Fondue, £8.95, that was made of melted milk chocolate, caramel and chopped pecans. Not for the faint hearted. Or the diabetic. 

P1030135Bright and pristine, La Chocolatier in the Royal Exchange Arcade is a must for cocoa pod addicts with row after tow of handmade cocoa creations. These are a truffle lover’s equivalent to those sexy windows in Amsterdam, with every variety on offer to sate your need.

On our visit it was a good job they were out of hand’s reach as I could quite happily have grabbed a fist full and greedily guzzled them there and then. 

Beyond the temptation there’s a comfortable seating area where you can glimpse the resident chocolatier at work (again through a glass screen, they’re not taking any chances this lot). What a tough job... not to be the size of a house. 

Over 50 different dollops of decadence are crafted by La Chocolatier but that’s not all this place is, there’s a cafe too. It sells cakes, fondues and is fully licensed. 

P1030131Step up the Cocoa Martini, £6.50, the house cocktail special. Neat vodka, some cocoa essence and a cocoa rim, a few of these and you’d be on your back. The Scarlet Miss Charlotte, £6.50 a dizzying swirl of raspberry, vanilla and fizz is less lethal and equally as enjoyable. Perfect looseners before the main event. You can of course just have a coffee.

Wanting the works we ordered a Flaming Turtle Fondue, £8.95, that was made of melted milk chocolate, caramel and chopped pecans. Not for the faint hearted. Or the diabetic. A bowl was presented adorned with strawberries and marshmallows for dipping.

I’d expected it to be warm so was surprised to find it was far from this. We queried this to be told this was the correct temperature for the chocolate they use. That is couverture by the way, the Rolls Royce of the range, top quality stuff with extra cocoa butter.

We didn’t finish it. Didn’t even dent it and suspect we wouldn’t have even if we hadn’t been saving space for a round of cake and chocolates. Let us know if you get through one of those and live to tell the tale. A bit too sickly sweet for me, on a return visit I’d go for one of the simpler options with less of the syrup. 

P1030128Added to that, the Irish Cream Eton Mess, £3.25, had also turned our heads. Layers of creamy white chocolate and Irish cream liqueur perched wantonly on top of a digestive base. Heavy, heavenly and straight to the hips. Cakes aren’t made on the premises but there’s a broad selection and not all of them chocolate. 

We managed to power through not wanting to leave the chocolates out of the action. One of these little beauties is brought to you with each beverage. What better incentive to work your way through the drinks list. A milk chocolate pink champagne truffle, cappuccino cup and a sublime praline all managed to make it past my lips. Bliss. 

P1030148Service was friendly if a little slow at times this seemed to be due to being busy when we arrived. The interior could be more in line with the indulgence of their wares but is pleasant enough. Tickle your fancy and give yourself a sugar rush, if you like chocolate you’ll love this place.

La Chocolatier

12 Royal Exchange Arcade, City, M2 7EA.  0161 833 3327

Rating: 14/20

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 11th 2011.

I would like to see any picture of those beverage...

AnonymousAugust 11th 2011.

I particularly enjoyed the florentine type chocolate affair, which had whole cherries, lots of nuts, a hint of orange peel and excellent chocolate around it. Fab with a good pot of English tea.

AnonymousAugust 16th 2011.

We went here on Sunday after a spot of shopping and the poor guy working there was to say the least a little stretched, having to serve the tables and the chocolate counter on his own whilst also trying to whip cream out the back in the kitchen without succes.

So in the end we had a cream tea with no cream but it was nice enough if a little slow. We were asked to pick a dessert from the menu subject to availability ... alarm bells ... so I picked my top 3 and tried not to get excited about the cake in the number one slot .. good job as I had to go for my number 3 choice! Which was fantasic to be fair and good value considering what you would pay in Starbucks, but not what I had really fancied.

The venue itself it nice and the products good but it could have done with perhaps a little more ambiance to fill the wait for the cream that never whipped ! Would return if in the area needing cake but might not make the walk for it if on the other side of town

Simon BinnsAugust 16th 2011.

I went in on Saturday and they gave my daughter a cup of steamed milk for free, bless 'em.

Pleasant service and good looking food.

Sukhdip BahiaAugust 21st 2011.

I was keen to go because of the reviews and went today but the chocolate is of poor quality. The chocolates that that I tried were far too sweet and way below the quality of a master chocolatier. If you like sweet chocolate it will probably be to your liking but dark chocolate aficianados should steer clear.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2011.

Went there on Saturday afternoon to find that the cafe was understaffed. Only two staff were working on Saturday afternoon and customers were told that they would have to wait up to 15 min to be served. Cafe itself wasn't that busy though. Chocolate display shelf was dark and there were no light at all. It wasn't inviting to buy a box of chocolate. There were no art/pictures on the wall and no atmosphere. Quality of chocolate was ok. Not that of artisan kind. I would rather go to Slattery's if I am paying the same price per 100g. Would not go back there.

AnonymousSeptember 4th 2011.

An entire nation raised on crap chocolate like Cadbury's cannot know what good chocolate is - they will contiue to be misled...

AnonymousSeptember 4th 2011.

Went for 'afternoon tea' . Only two staff on and although very friendly, were very slow. The place lacked atmosphere and is extremely over priced. Hot chocolate not as nice as thought it would be... Had much better and for 4 pound, wasn't worth it. Would not go again- prefer slatterys.

AnonymousSeptember 6th 2011.

Bought truffles here. They were not even fresh, nor well made. Like someone mentioned above, some of the chocolates are too sweet. Definitely prefer Slattery's or Hotel Chocolat's truffles.

AnonymousSeptember 19th 2011.

We had booked afternoon tea for 4 at 3.30pm on Sunday 18 September. We arrived slightly before time and then received virtually non-existent service and half-baked scones ... twice, having sent back the first batch. We had to prompt them to serve us after waiting patiently until 3.50. They were not busy! A maximum of 10 people other than ourselves. There were two waiters.
Evenutually we were given our glass of Prosecco. Another 20 minute wait and another reminder, and our scones arrived (please note, afternoon tea here does not include any sandwiches). They were burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. We sent them back. As they said they would have to bake another batch, we asked for our tea and cakes. (4.15pm) We were invited to choose the cakes and about 5 minutes later they were served ... all they had to do was to take them out of the display cabinet and put them on plates. There was no fancy preparation required. They were not accompanied by the tea we had ordered.
The second batch of scones arrived but they were little better than the first. We complained and were told that they were busy. Our eyes must have been deceiving us! Apparently they had two bookings for afternoon tea at 3.30 and thus could not cope!
By 5pm we had not received any tea so we reminded them, again. It duly arrived. The chocolatier and owner, whom you can see working through a window at the back of the shop, came out to see us and ask us what was amiss. He asked how he could improve the service. As one of us is a lecturer in catering and hospitality at a local college, he was told, but we are doubtful if he will act on her recommendations. He seemed to have little idea about training, customer service etc.

Fortunately we were on a "deal" via Travelzoo. I understand the full price is £37 for two. Extortionate!
And, as others have said, the chocolate is not gourmet standard.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 14th 2011.

I AGREE AND SECOND EVERYTHING YOU HAVE WROTE. WE COMPLAINED TO THE OWNER STEPHEN LEE AND HE WAS VERY CLEVER AND RUDE. WILL NEVER GO IN THERE AGAIN. APPARENTLY HE ALSO HAS A CHOCOLATE SHOP IN BUXTON CALLED CHARLOTTES. HIS CHOCOLATES THERE ARE VERY SWEET AND SICKLY. IF I HAD REALISED IT WAS SAME MAN WOULD NOT HAVE WASTED MY MONEY!

debholtSeptember 19th 2011.

Anonymous from today (19 September). I booked the same Travelzoo cream tea for 2.00pm and had exactly the same problems you did; lengthy waiting times, raw scones etc. We ended up sitting outside as there were no seats inside. The first waiter was lovely and kept apologising for the delay but he went home shortly after we got our hot drinks and it got even worse after then - after waiting for about half an hour, my other half ended up taking the plates back in to the shop himself. There were no members of staff there and he had to wait a while for somebody to come out.

Also, despite our confirmation email from Travelzoo saying the tea included four handmade chocolates each, we were told that this was incorrect. When we challenged it by showing him the email, we were told that we had had the four handmade chocolates with our cake. To clarify, with our cake we each got a strawberry and three chocolate button halves.

I don't think the fact that we were getting the cream tea via an offer makes any difference - the whole experience was appalling. I've written to Travelzoo to advise them of the situation and to request a refund.

I can't comment on the standard of the chocolate given that I didn't even get any. The prosecco was nice though.

Mrs ClancySeptember 21st 2011.

Four of us went for afternoon tea we were served with scones and fizzy wine, no sandwiches. When we asked for sandwiches were told they had no licence for sandwiches. How can you have afternoon tea without sandwiches. Also three out of the four forks we were given were dirty and had to be replaced.

IzzySeptember 22nd 2011.

"no licence for sandwiches.." Hysterical! They need to have a word with themselves methinks

Patricia ArmstrongSeptember 22nd 2011.

Someone needs to explain to the owner the difference between "Afternoon Tea" and "Cream Tea"
We were expecting sandwiches as in all afternoon teas and were told Travelzoo had worded the advertisement incorrectly.
We had to look on the plate for the scones they were so small. A total rip off and the manager was unconcerned, so much for customer service.

Lynn CullimoreSeptember 27th 2011.

I'm consistently annoyed by shops and cafes making simple, and entirely avoidable, grammatical and spelling mistakes. I have never darkened the doors of Rice, for example, because they couldn't even spell risotto correctly on the flyer advertising its Piccadilly branch. And "La Chocolatier"? It's either Le Chocolatier or La Chocolatière. If you're going to the trouble of starting a business with a French name, at least get the French right.

Dexter RichardsOctober 3rd 2011.

Absolutely God awful place!! Staff so without passion it beggars belief but owner/manager has to be the most miserable customer scarecrow that I have ever had the misfortune to come across that I don't blame their de-motivation one bit. I don't know where he trained to be chocolatier but if I were him I'd ask for a refund which I wish I had done but I so wanted to get the hell out of there.
How does this place even survive in a city centre location with all of the great coffee bars in Manchester? A hot drink vending machine and a Cadbury's stand would be so much better and a damn sight cheaper!!
Thank you, good night and good luck!!

Julie DowseOctober 30th 2011.

We arrived today for our treat booked over a month ago to find the shop closed with a notice advising closed due to coffee machine not working. When we looked inside all the shelves were empty the tables and chairs had been removed and basically I think they have closed down. This is not good news when they have been paid by Travel Zoo. I will be contacting Travel Zoo for some sort of explanation and a refund. Hope this saves other people having a wasted journey...

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