As you descend the old stone steps from Chichester Street into the tiny shop the hit of heady chocolate greets your senses. Co. Couture chocolate shop is making a name for itself in on the Belfast food scene. The Guild of Fine Food awarded their Irish Whisky Truffle the coveted 3 Gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2008. Last year, they achieved runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards.
The chocolaterie specialises in gluten free and dairy free treats, opting for raw natural ingredients on a small scale as opposed to mass production. Although the premises are mainly taken up by Deirdre’s, the owner and chief chocolatier, kitchen there are two small tables for those wishing to sit in. The surroundings are not the cosy and exotic Chocolat film set I thought they would be. Think more, Tim Burton’s Willy Wonka, all white and minimalist. However all the staff, Deirdre, Pascaline and Megan are warm, and their demeanour mellows out the sharp contrasts of black walls and white furnishings.
Co. Couture is famed for the hot chocolate, the only hot drink the shop does. When ordering, you can choose from a selection of different ‘sides’ to accompany it. The choice is between a standard fare of milk, dark and white chocolates or more elaborate bakes. These delicacies include salted caramel brownies, cookies and Florentines. The girls make things to order and offer a very popular chocolate master class. The drink comes with homemade marshmallows and cream, all for an acceptable £2.50.
While waiting the impressive chocolate creations provide ample distractions, an ornate chocolate shoe, giant Easter eggs filled with a rich chocolate mousse and various other imaginings from Deidre’s mind.
The drink itself is pleasant, not as rich as it should be. As the hot chocolate it is the only drink the shop offers, it could potentially underwhelm. The service was lackadaisical, but pleasant. The food was spectacular. The homemade chocolates were of other- worldly quality, I had a selection of the salted caramel brownie and a dark chocolate ganache. Each melted in the mouth and as we were eating Megan brought out freshly made chocolates, the smell was intoxicating.
I highly recommend a visit for anyone with a sweet tooth or last minute gifts. Co. Couture thoroughly deserves the accolades it has been given, a definite stand out on the Belfast food scene.