The Dark (Chocolate) Side of Summer

The Dish

This recent spate of gloomy weather reminded us of something: Autumn is coming! We suddenly found ourselves craving fireplaces and other things to keep us warm, like hot chocolate (not to be confused with chaud, that ultra-rich eat-with-a-spoon chocolate drink). Hot chocolate is the perfect fix for a cool weather sweet tooth. From Fran's to Theo to Dilettante, we have our pick of candy parlors here in Seattle. But we chose two spots with chocolate in their name for this sweet spot challenge. Was our strategy a smart move -- or a cocoa clash?

"Yeah, we grind our own chocolate. Who wants to touch us?"
The Rivals


1527 Queen Anne Ave. N., 282-0776

Walking into this uber sleepy upper Queen Anne chocolate shop, you wouldn't think there was any sort of hot action taking place behind the counter. Oh, but there is. Chocopolis has a special hot chocolate menu, comprised of all sorts of liquid treats. But the one we were after was the plain old cocoa ($3.95), made from Guittard chocolate -- a nice mix of 38-percent milk and 55-percent dark. Chocopolis grinds their own chocolate in a food processor. An 8-ounce serving of hot cocoa is equal parts ground chocolate and steamed milk that melts the chocolate into a rich and thick soothing sweet drink. For an extra $2, you can get some housemade marshmallows thrown in. In order to keep this an even playing field we, gulp, declined.

This hot cocoa is very chocolatey, er, chocolati.

1716 N. 45th St., 633-7765

If you can get past the sometimes surly service at this Wallingford shop, you'll be rewarded with a pretty decent drink. The house chocolate ($2.95) is made with Chocolati's own milk and dark chocolates, heated in crock pots and ladled into cups. The down side of ladling chocolate into cups? It's kind of messy, and often leaves chocolate drizzles behind on your mug. But we're not complaining. This hot cocoa is sweeter than Chocopolis, but not as rich or thick. Also, once we finished our cocoa, we were left with a surprising amount of wayward chocolate stuck to the bottom of our mug. The liquid stuff just doesn't blend as well as the freshly ground stuff. No wonder the drink loses points in the 'thick and rich' department.

The Champ

Chocopolis is where we'll be getting our next cup of hot chocolate when we're on Queen Anne. It's rich, not too sweet, and has a very nice satisfying taste, like a melted Easter bunny. There's no crazy aftertaste and the milk is steamed to just the right temperature. The only thing we'll do differently next time is order it with a side of 'mallows.

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