My friend Nina has a sweet tooth. So her 30th birthday offered a fantastic excuse to satisfy it at one of Melbourne’s poshest hotels. Fashionistas may worship at the altars of Baptista, Chanel, Valentino and Dior, but chocoholics have equal adoration for the names Belcolade, Callebaut, Valrhona and DGF Royal. These and other brand name sweets can be found at the Langham’s answer to weekend high tea: The Chocolate Bar.
Fifteen of us settled into plush sofas and chairs, enveloped by the sounds of soft music and a tiny spoon on saucer symphony all around us. A friendly staff member promptly took our drink orders: unlimited hot chocolates, espresso coffees and an assortment of teas were on offer. Looking at the other patrons’ tables, I was suddenly relieved to have skipped lunch.
Classic three-tiered tea stands appeared moments later, piled with delicate finger sandwiches, scones, organic jam and clotted cream. I can’t remember the last time I had the pleasure of eating tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off. I’m not too fancy and I’ve never been to a high tea before. But I’m a sucker for these little bites, particularly the fillings: cress and mayonnaise, cream cheese and chives, smoked salmon and cucumber.
After our beverages were delivered, a server passed out hot chocolate chip soufflés in individual teacups. We heartily dug into these, careful not to burn our lips on the melted chocolate.
The big draw, however, is the actual Chocolate Bar itself: a giant table loaded with a scrumptious array of miniature desserts. Pretty hatboxes towered over trifles, bars, biscotti and other treats. In honour of the holiday season, gingerbread men stared up at us from a large glass bowl. Tiny mince tarts were placed next to a large chafing dish full of Christmas pudding. Fat, luscious strawberries begged to be dipped into the most enjoyable chocolate fondue I think I’ve ever tasted. We helped ourselves to this feast, quickly getting full.
I really enjoyed this experience. The atmosphere was lovely, the service outstanding (but not stuffy), and the chocolate treats exceptional. Everything was so rich that I found it difficult to eat too many of the desserts, but I made up for it in finger sandwiches and hot drinks. It was especially nice to visit The Chocolate Bar during the holidays because of all the festive flowers and decorations arranged throughout the ARIA bar. What a wonderful way to catch up with friends and enjoy some couture chocolate in a cosy setting.
The Chocolate Bar is available at the ARIA lounge from 12 noon – 2pm or 2.30pm – 4.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.