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03 February 2010 @ 09:43 am
Upstairs on the Square: Valrhona Hot Chocolat  
Last night, fennel and I hit Upstairs on the Square for their Valrhona Hot Chocolate, billed thusly by the Boston Globe: "It's made with fluffy housemade marshmallows and sweet vanilla Chantilly cream on top." It was also listed as $8 per, so we had high hopes.

The excellent company notwithstanding, the entire Upstairs on the Square experience was a big disappointment. fennel ordered the HC with dinner, while I decided I'd like to have mine as dessert, so I ordered a Violette Royale -- a sparkling wine mixed drink, which might be my favorite category of mixed drink these days, but the violet liqueur had a bit of a chemical aftertaste that really detracted from the pleasure of the drink. The bread was a great, chewy texture that I loved, and the herby oil dip was great, but that's as good as it got. We ordered two appetizers to share, both of which we pretty bland and uninteresting!

But you're waiting for the hot chocolate review. It was similarly disappointing. In fact, after one sip of fennel's, I decided I didn't need to order one of my own. It was thin, not particularly chocolatey, with an unsatisfying mouthfeel and no real sense of decadence. I make an unusually good hot chocolate, so I feel it's an unfair comparison to say I could do better at home, but I could do better at home. I could even do better at home with Hershey's cocoa powder, sugar, and milk, though, so that's a more substantial statement. The one pleasant surprise: the price was merely (*cough*) $4 rather than $8. And there were no marshmallows! Perhaps one has to go in the afternoon for the really good stuff? Unfortunately, I won't be going back to find out. C-/D+
I'm feeling: sleepysleepy
Ginger Ninjayouraverageninj on February 3rd, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
With your permission, I'd like to forward this on to the wine manager of USOTS (whom I happen to live with), and see if your concerns can be addressed.
ruthless compassion: cheersaroraborealis on February 3rd, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
That's fine with me; thanks for asking!
pir on February 3rd, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
The best hot chocolate I've ever had was in Courmayeur in Italy, I can only imagine it was made by melting a chunk of chocolate into a cup. The spoon stood up in it easily. We went back for more.
ruthless compassion: cheersaroraborealis on February 3rd, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's how it's done in Guatemala, too, where my very favorite hot chocolates have been. That's also why it's cheating to say I make outstanding hot chocolate at home: I use chunks of chocolate from Guatemala, melted in milk ...

In fact, that's what I'm serving in this userpic!
Sapere Aude: birthday cakeprimal_pastry on February 3rd, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
I was going to offer to make you hot chocolate but it seems you do it the way I do. Only I add ancho chili and a pinch of cinnamon.
ruthless compassion: pouncearoraborealis on February 3rd, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Well, just 'cause I make it that way doesn't mean I should try yours, too ...
drwexdrwex on February 3rd, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
I've been hearing similar things about Upstairs for some time
Not per se about the chocolate, but in general their quality is reported to have slipped.

(Aside, the best cup of chocolate I ever had was in a tiny Parisian cafe, sitting outside in June watching the Eiffel Tower. At 5 francs it too was about $8 and thus the most expensive cup I'd had to that point.)
Chipceo on February 3rd, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: I've been hearing similar things about Upstairs for some time
Um, 5 francs is (or, was) about $1.
drwexdrwex on February 3rd, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
Re: I've been hearing similar things about Upstairs for some time
You're right, I did the conversion the wrong way.
harimad on February 3rd, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Hot chocolate you get at a restaurant should be as good as what you get at home. Else why go out to get it?

I'm sorry to hear how disappointing an experience it was. Just listening to your buildup gave me a great sense of anticipation.

Out of curiosity, what do you think of Starbuck's HC?
ruthless compassion: tastyaroraborealis on February 3rd, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Out of curiosity, what do you think of Starbuck's HC?

I've never tried it! Perhaps I will :)
harimad on February 3rd, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
It's not a transcendent experience but it meets the basic minimum requirements - real chocolate syrup, real milk, whipped cream - and is easily available. You could try the kid's size.
Ellenkeyne on February 3rd, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
The Signature Hot Chocolate is much better than the regular, btw. For a while they were offering a salted-caramel option, but I think it's gone now.
Katefenicedautun on February 3rd, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
I've never been impressed by Upstairs on teh Square (nor have the reports I've heard from my friends impressed me), and I wonder how they keep getting good reviews. Who are they paying/sleeping with?
Renata Piperlyonesse on February 3rd, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
i haven't had their hot chocolate in many years, but i totally love the "molly ringwald" cocktail there (gin and grapefruit and stuff, not for everyone but def. for me :)
Boring Nerdsignsoflife on February 3rd, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
I hope you don't give up on violet liqueur in general; I had a very lovely violet cocktail once.
ruthless compassion: tastyaroraborealis on February 3rd, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
This is great to hear, actually! I was figuring I might simply not like it, but this inspires me to give it another try.
Boring Nerdsignsoflife on February 4th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
the drink I had was, apparently, gin, vermouth, and creme de violette. The violet taste came first; it tasted like flowers, then like a martini. The gin in question was North Shore gin #6, a less juniper-y specialty gin, though I expect more traditional gin would also work.
Beahbeah on February 3rd, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
The one time I went there, we were served not one, but two bugs, in two different courses. One was in the salad, which was locally sourced and very fresh and I understand that these things happen, but the other was a giant silverfish in the butter. I walked out, and haven't been able to bring myself to go back.
ruthless compassion: blech!aroraborealis on February 3rd, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. That would definitely inspire me never to go back. For reals.
Shakespeare Fiend: puppyaerynne on February 3rd, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
How tragic! Upstairs on the Square is one of my favorite local restaurants, so it's disappointing to hear that you had such a miserable experience. Although I guess I haven't been there in at least a year--ah, budgeting. Was this the Soiree Dining Room or the Monday Club Bar?
7j: cookingtrouble4hire on February 4th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
other hot chocolates
Have you tried the hot chocolate at Burdick's? I've found that to be the most intense hot chocolate experience in the area.
I also dislike Upstairs on the Square. They got snippy with me when I complained about something on the menu not being advertised as having ham in it.
liljackhornerliljackhorner on February 5th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
Hands down the best hot chocolate in the Boston/Cambridge area (well besides me) is at Burdick's on Brattle St. -- one sip and your eyes just roll back into your head...