Buy it dark, milky or white. Have it sprinkled with salt or spiced with some chillies. Whichever way you like it, it’s undeniable that this indulgent comfort food is ubiquitous in the British capital. But to get your hands on top quality cocoa, you might need a steer in the right direction. From traditional chocolate houses to innovative chocolatiers peddling bold new flavours, here’s where to find the very best chocolate shops in London.
A master among masters, William Curley has won more ‘Britain’s Best Chocolatier’ awards than most of us have had hot dinners. No wonder perhaps given his forensic use of Japanese ingredients, balancing the flavours of miso, sesame and yuzu with classic staples like biscuit, caramel and praline.
Watch popcorn pop, caramel bubble or listen to the chocolatiers give tips at Melt’s open chocolate kitchen. Full of mid-century furniture, sublime choccies that mix ethical ingredients with bold ideas (such as the ‘Smoke Bar’ made with cocoa beans grown in volcanic soil), Melt is one of London’s most popular chocolate shops.
Taking chocolate back to its roots, Montezuma’s is not afraid to mix the most cocoa-intense chocolates with the loudest of ingredients. Into the pot goes limes, coffee, chillies, ginger, chutneys, mangoes and other goodies and out comes the most fantastical chocolate bars, such as the Apple Crumble variety!
Even those who haven’t tried one of founder, Chantal Coady’s boxes of chocolates will recognise the trademark blue and white packaging. With an emphasis on traditional fondant creams (such as rose) as well as unusual confections like chocolate olives, Rococo’s Motcomb Street store is the best place to visit if you like the idea of enjoying your chocolate in a quaint, Moroccan garden.
Paul A Young
One of the few London chocolatiers to make his delicacies daily, Paul A Young is also a great alchemist on the flavour front. Mixing white chocolate with masala spices, as well as getting creative with all the textures a brownie could possibly hold, his dab hand has resulted in several TV appearances, propelling his compound creations into the limelight they deserve.
To say Mendy, owner of Dark Sugars, is serious about chocolate would be a huge understatement. Having travelled all over the world, picking up professional skills in Belgium and Switzerland along the way, Mendy decided to set up her own chocolate shop in London. The result is Dark Sugars in Brick Lane, which has introduced the British market to high-cocoa, low-sugar and big flavour chocolates in slick, minimalist styles.
Whilst SAID does some wickedly good chocolates, most customers don’t want their truffles and bars in neat little boxes. Instead, they dunk them in the creamy hot chocolate that made SAID’s name. Thick, pure and satisfying, only purchasing a pizza Romana (Nutella pizza) could possibly classify as more indulgent.
Charbonnel et Walker
Founded in 1875, Charbonnel et Walker has an enviable pedigree that stretches back to when Mrs Walker and Mme Charbonnel (of Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris) teamed up to open at 173 New Bond Street. The duo’s pastel boxes of classics have been so successful that they still hold a Royal Warrant – a prized asset among London’s best chocolatiers.
Image Credits: Images Courtesy of Melt and Paul Young.