Our first stop is London’s newest favourite pizza joint – Pizza Pilgrims in Soho. That’s right, we’re sending you to a dough and cheese specialist for chocolate. Why? Because combining pizza dough, salted Ricotta cheese and the best part of a jar of Nutella into a doughnut ring turns out to be just the dessert you never knew you always wanted. It’s not exactly diet food, so you may want to put in an extra lap of the park or share your main course prior to putting your arteries through this – we assure you, however, that your emotional heart will thank you for ordering this Neapolitan sinful specialty.
If you’re more of a liquid luncher, the Chocolate and Blue Cheese Martini atDuck & Waffle might be the invention for you… or the one to convince you back to the realm of the solid foods, who knows? A brew of Bombay Sapphire gin, dry cacao, blue cheese distillate and olive oil, it’s crafted through a process known as ‘fat washing’ (which may be what you’ll wish you could do after one too many). Essentially, the gin and cheese are heated together until the latter melts but before the former boils and loses its alcohol content. This concoction is then chilled so the fat and the liquid separate, the fat is removed and, marvellously, the cheesy flavour remains. Throw in some chocolate vermouth and chocolate-infused olive oil, and cheers! If you’re wondering how on earth someone came up with the idea behind this cocktail, the answer lies with bartender Richard Woods, who arrived home hungry after a late shift one night and discovered that all he had in his fridge was piece of old cheese and some chocolate digestives… and the rest, as they say, is (drinking) history.
A little more traditional but somehow no less unusual, the Chocolate and Chicken Enchilada at Cantina Laredo is definitely worth seeking out in the charming St. Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden. Known as Mole Poblano, this Mexican dish is composed of shredded chicken breast topped with a sweet and spicy mole sauce (Mexican cuisine often combines the spicy cacao bean into savoury recipes), but here a dose of Ibarra chocolate has been added in to give it an extra, extraordinary kick.
Still breathing? Good, now challenge yourselves that little bit further with the Death By Chocolate Platter at L’Etranger. Despite the existentialist, solitary novel this Franco-Japanese fusion restaurant takes its name from, you probably shouldn’t grapple with this one by yourself. A foot-long platter of 7 different variants of the chocolate firearm, you’ll go from gooey chocolate fondant to a layered opera cake, a pretty praline parfait perched beside a chocolate truffle mousse before a bitter chocolate sorbet, you’ve then still got the almond and chocolate soldiers to dip in the pot au chocolat before digesting it all with a shot of dark chocolate ‘soup’… you’ll be hard pressed to say whether you’ve scaled to Seventh Heaven or descended the circles of digestive Hell should you decide to try and go it alone: this one is a team effort, you have been warned!
Since the mercury is waking up from its winter slumber and an al fresco stroll with an ice-cream is seeming more a tempting idea than sign of madness, pop along to La Gelatiera in Covent Garden. Artisanal, slow-food inspired, 100% natural, seasonal ingredients – there’s really very little to feel guilty about with such a litany of clean-living credits to its name. Antonio is the man behind the science, but we are here for the chocolate, and thus the sorbet: extra dark chocolate with Calabrian chilli, to be precise. You’ll probably have to be reassured of its vegan, utterly dairy-free qualities, such is the creaminess and rich texture, made with the best Ecuadorian cocoa beans which gives it a subtle little spicy kick towards the end of the tub. If you’re not feeling brave enough for a spoonful of the cold stuff, they also do a fantastic range of hot chocolates too, with choices including Ecuadorian 70%, Venezuelan 58% and Ivory Coast white chocolate.
And if by the end of it all you find, to your total surprise, that movement is now restricted and you need a short roll home to rest and digest – luckily yourAmba Hotel Charing Cross is just staggering distance away from all of these temples of temptation!