Monday, March 31, 2008

Christopher Elbow on Hayes

It's 9 pm on a Friday night and you're due to meet a friend for a drink in Hayes Valley. Maybe you're pregnant, or your friend is 12, or maybe you're just looking for something a little different and non-alcoholic - that's where the new Christopher Elbow Chocolate Bar makes perfect sense.

Located on the corner of Hayes and Gough, the Christopher Elbow boutique opened in February with a chocolate counter and a separate bar area that is open until 10 pm. The decor is minimalist and sleek, with the rich reds and browns that make their packaging so distinct. The bar looks like a "chill-out" lounge area in a club, and makes me wonder if chocolate martinis are on the horizon. But for now, they offer a drinking chocolate menu with a wide variety of flavors, including "chinese 5 spice," "coconut curry," and "peanut butter." Purists can simply order hot chocolate American or European style, a mocha, or an extra dark. All drinks are priced at $4.50.

According to Elbow, his chocolate powder is made from pure ground El Rey chocolate. Good choice!

I've always enjoyed pointing out Christopher Elbow chocolate on my Tours because guests are so impressed by their beautiful, artistic appearance. Nowhere else in San Francisco can you find such vivid colors and glossy sheens on filled chocolates. I know many classic French or Swiss chocolatiers would scoff at the designs and flavor combinations, but Christopher Elbow appeals to plenty of Americans who want more than a simple "palet d'or."

I sampled a 9 piece box of chocolates from Elbow's Fall/Winter Collection for $20. I like the fact that instead of weighing chocolates and charging by the pound, Christopher Elbow chocolates are simply $2 a piece. Of course, you'll save by purchasing the larger boxes (42 for $75) and I always recommend choosing the chocolates yourself to ensure that your box is as fresh as it can be. Some of the chocolates were too goopy and syrupy for my taste, such as the "fleur de sel," the "lavender" and the "cabernet." (I much prefer the Rechiutti version of a fleur de sel with a more solid ganache.) The "bananas foster" made me forget I was even in a chocolate shop. My favorites were the "vanilla bean," the "fresh lime" and any of the 70% cacao ganaches, such as the "Venezuelan dark" and the "Madagascar."

So will the concept of a chocolate bar take off? Time will tell. And while not everything Christopher Elbow sells suits me, I'm very happy that San Francisco is the first retail location Elbow decided to open after his Kansas City flagship store. Elbow is young and not afraid to experiment. I look forward to sampling his Spring/Summer collection!

1 comment:

Alex said...

The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.


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