SWYF Find: The Chocolate Cafe

The Chocolate Cafe: http://www.chocolate-cafe.co.uk/cafe/
The Chocolate Cafe was such a find during my time spent in England. Located in the town of Ramsbottom, the Cafe offers a range of hand-made chocolates - some even made on-site and for sale in the display case near the register. It also sells Austrian chocolate line Zotter, which I heard about for the first time and it boasts many outrageous combinations, including vegan samplings, a cow milk-free option (sheep's milk - it's delicious).

After a hike up Holcombe Hill to Peel Tower and Pilgrims Cross, the warming Cafe is a welcome sight on cold days - as it was on the final days of my trip. In addition to its own line of chocolates, there's a cute cafe upstairs. 

And, now, the downside...

If there was a negative about The Chocolate Cafe, it would be the savory food at its restaurant. I really, really wanted to love the food - most of the ingredients were sourced from local dairy and meat farms, the menu had many vegetarian options and the vegetables were seasonal and you could see that the cooks liked their job! The staff and the owners were extremely knowledgeable and affable and could not have been nicer. The restaurant was almost always busy and customers seemed happy and satisfied with their orders. However, the good vibes couldn't mask the lack-luster dishes: The soups were a little too watery and the sandwiches were much ado about nothing (OK, someone British, please explain this: When there's a "cheese sandwich" listed, why don't chefs go the extra step and melt the cheese? Who wants to eat a shredded cheese on bread? After seeing my friend order it, I didn't understand the point). 

Although the food left much to be desired, I would recommend The Chocolate Cafe for a few reasons:
  1. It's a local business, and local businesses and producers with such integrity as that of the Cafe are what help local economies and communities survive and thrive.
  2. The Cafe sells some of the best chocolate I've ever had, rivelling many, if not most, of what's considered "good" chocolate in the U.S. Although I only experimented with some of the Zotter chocolates, the Cafe's own line is all excellent. Most of my friends and family are getting bars as gifts...surprise!
  3. As mentioned, I would not go to the Cafe for a savory meal. And, even though it's head and shoulders above many of the other restaurants in England, I would suggest ordering some of their decadent-looking desserts and warm beverages - hot chocolate concoctions, including those that can be made at your table, and unique herbal teas by Teapig.
If you're in the Ramsbottom, Bury and/or Manchester area, you should definitely try The Chocolate Cafe. Now's the time to go (well, just ignore the snow and the flight delays) - it boasts a plethora of great holiday gift ideas.

**The Chocolate Cafe: Ramsbottom, Bury - between Carr Street and Bolton Street. Open Tuesday-Saturday (10:30-5:30, last food order - 30 minutes before closing). (Note: As of right now, I don't know if you can order from its online store from outside of the UK, but I'll post an update as soon as I find out.)