Hot chocolate. I can vouch that the Italians definitely do it better. It seems like an age ago when I was in Florence, sampling the BEST HOT CHOCOLATE of my life at Rivoire standing at the bar on a chilly winter's evening. And yes, I did go back for more. I remember clearly it's richness and depth of cocoa flavour which has yet to be surpassed in my book. Said is one venue that has upped the ante by opening a second branch in London, with its original in fair Roma.
|Even the window displays are enough to make one weak at the knees Credit: Said Facebook Page|
I always bang on about the history of a café or restaurant and Said is certainly no exception. Operating since 1923 out of Italy, it was only at the end of last year that keys exchanged hands for their artisan chocolate café and shop in the heart of London's Soho. Said is actually an acronym for Societa Azinoria Industria Dolciumi, which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue!
|The café interior with all their edible wares on display|
Akin to Koko Black in Australia or an upmarket Max Brenner, Said brings specialty chocolate products to the masses in London (and boy, are there masses). One of the first things you'll notice about the store is their keen eye for design. Lovely silver chocolate moulds adorn a feature wall and Said products are lain out in every nook and cranny. The packaging is beautiful in its simplicity and instantly recognisable.
|A rather mini hot chocolate in an espresso cup. I ordered a chilli hot chocolate which came with chilli powder on the side...how bizarre! What wimps do they take us for?! The chocolate had a lovely thick texture but was a little lacking in richness and chocolatey flavour (that sounds absurd). I'm almost expecting melted dark chocolate here...yikes. Rivoire has set the bar high it would seem!|
Perch yourself on a milk can to have a peek at the menu which is short, sharp and to the point so you can pick your poison. Just make sure you order an Italian hot chocolate or chocolate espresso. The eats are nothing fancy and fairly predictable, a few cakes and biscuits from the counter display. The best part is being able to while away the hours, people watching with a hot drink in your hand. Simple pleasures.
|Chocolate inspired wall hangings. Very clever! I'm enjoying the novelty size of the 'lamb' mould|
We were on a roll, with service that left us wanting. Granted it was literally the first day for the waitress who served us, but being such a small café, all her trials and tribulations were on full display! Watching with fascination this staffer would dart back and forth from our table to clarify our order, serve other walk-ins and ask what goes in to make the different drinks. But never mind, we had some time and it was nice to have a sit down and chat.
|The rather impressive looking chocolate bars. The higher the cocoa content, the better for me!|
With all these superlatives being bandied about online it's hard to declare who actually is the fairest of them all. It is clear that Said means business with their chocolate, they take it extremely seriously. The hot chocolate may not be the best I've ever had but it's a pretty good alternative to forking out £200 for flights to Italy. But hey, why not make a weekend of it some time? Because YOU CAN.
Thanks for reading!