Earlier in the week when I mentioned to someone that we were planning to go to Sweet Moses as our seventh stop on our hot chocolate tasting tour, they replied that they thought it would be the best one. I think she may have been right.
Peggy and I had planned to meet up on Friday afternoon but had to reschedule for Saturday. Looking back, we are both glad it happened this way, since before getting our hot chocolate, we stopped to see the Near West Theatre. The Open House showing off the new building was joyous and put us in a good mood by the time we got to Sweet Moses.
Although once there and inhaling the delightful smells of the sweet shop, Peggy admitted it was a challenge to order the hot chocolate when the ice cream that Sweet Moses is known for looked so enticing. She ordered hers with only a homemade marshmallow and I choose the marshmallow and the whipped cream as my topping. We also decided to split a brownie with walnuts.
Here’s what we thought:
- Flavor. Rich and sweet. This may have been the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever had. If not, it’s definitely in the top 3. Apparently, they use a recipe from 1911. It paired very nicely with the bittersweet brownie.
- Topping. Peggy said her marshmallow was the best yet. She said it melted perfectly yet still allowed her to enjoy the gooeyness of it. I would agree and loved both the whipped cream and my marshmallow. It was a nice touch to have both.
- Size. They didn’t ask us which size we wanted, so I assume they only have one. It was a typical size mug.
- Atmosphere. Being an authentically recreated soda shop, the atmosphere was fun with lots of families and friends gathered together enjoying sweet treats.
In the end, I am happy we had to delay our visit by a day, because it allowed us to enjoy ourselves more on an unusually sunny winter day and to partake in the festivities of the Near West Theatre. Plus, it was a wonderful kick off to my birthday weekend. I would definitely go back to Sweet Moses for the hot chocolate – and more. I’d also bring out of town guests looking to taste some of the best hot chocolate in Cleveland.
When Peggy messaged me and asked if I was available later the next day for our third hot chocolate tasting, I jumped at the chance. Since The Root Cafe, a hipster place located in the center of Lakewood, is convenient and we had each been there many times before, it appeared to be a simple decision to make.
It wasn’t until I arrived slightly earlier than Peggy that I remembered why I don’t frequent it as much. First of all, I believe there are many redeeming qualities about The Root Cafe such as their coffee drinks and their yummy food menu, but there are also a lot of turnoffs as well. The main one being the lack of seating and the isolationist vibe that emanates from it. I get it is a place where people park themselves to work but still the atmosphere is lacking the coziness of past places we visited on this tasting tour.
Now onto to the hot chocolate part. I went purist and ordered the plain hot chocolate, while Peggy, perhaps inspired by the two previous tasting stops, went with the Mexican hot chocolate.
Here’s what we thought:
- Flavor. Mine was, well, just ok. I’ve had better hot chocolate out of a package at home. There was definitely nothing special or unique here. Peggy concurred about hers and said the Mexican one hit her in the back of the throat and hard like it’s supposed to.
- Topping. None. Nada. Nothing.
- Size. We both decided to get the medium. It seemed pretty standard.
- Atmosphere. Despite the inviting warm wood interior and eclectic decor, there is not much else here in terms of atmosphere. Peggy observed that there was no talking outside of your table. And unlike our last stop, there was no sense of community.
When we left, I almost wished I hadn’t taken Peggy up on her offer, because despite the company and the conversation, I left feeling unsettled. This was only reinforced when I returned to my car parked on a side street and noticed a parking ticket from a recently expired meter. Even after that, we agreed that we’d both go back to The Root Cafe, because it is popular with other friends but would unlikely go back because of the hot chocolate causing us to question why they made the list.
The inaugural stop on our tasting tour occurred at Bonbon Pastry & Cafe in Ohio City on a busy Christmas Eve morning. Bonbon had been selected as the first stop based on convenience but after a couple of missed attempts it appeared that wasn’t the case.
We finally settled on Christmas Eve morning because it fit into both of our schedules. The day was unseasonably warm, but I was ready to start this challenge as I arrived at the overly crowded and bustling cafe. Peggy joined me shortly after.
When I first walked in the door my eye caught the sign advertising the Mexican Hot Chocolate as the special. As a fan of this unique sweet and spicy treat and after exchanging some messages earlier in the week with Peggy about champurrado, I knew this was the one I wanted to try. Peggy concurred and ordered the same.
Below is the way we will rate each hot chocolate and location:
- Flavor. The Mexican Hot Chocolate had a nice blend of sweet and spice. It was not too sweet though and you could taste the quality bitter chocolate used.
- Topping. According to Peggy this was the best marshmallow she had ever tasted. It was a homemade one too. The green and red sprinkles were a pleasing holiday touch and also a possible ode to the Mexican flag colors.
- Size. We both agreed that it was too small and simply didn’t last long enough through us eating our meals and chatting.
- Atmosphere. Being at Bonbon always makes me feel like I’ve been transported to Paris. And the staff that day had a decidedly French manner as well. It seemed as if they were not having their best day likely caused by the largest crowd I’d ever seen there.
All in all our first tasting experience was a success with a few setbacks in the service department. We’ll definitely make a return trip just not the day before a major holiday.