Death by chocolate? Sounds like a heavenly way to go. Lisette Allen hits the choco trail in the Czech capital, indulging her lifelong passion for that delicious product of the cocoa bean en route.
Judging from the sheer variety of places you can splash out on Belgian pralines or handmade truffles, there’s a real hunger in the Czech Republic for quality cocoa-based confectionery. We’ve already covered the best fancy chocs: check out our article on chocolatiers if you’d like some mouthwatering eye-candy to feast on.
This time, though, we’ve put together a quirky guide to Prague for the chocoholics amongst you. Whether you head to a spa to get wrapped in the stuff, or merely soak up the themed décor at the Chocolate Hair Salon while having a trim, there are more ways to enjoy chocolate than just eating it – although you’ll most likely want to do that, too, so we’ve also included our lowdown on Prague’s chocolate themed eateries as well as some tips for getting your hands on a decent everyday chocolate fix.
Choco Café U Červené židle, Liliova 4/250, Prague 1
Choco Café U Klimenta, Klimenska 3, Prague 1
When we neglected to include Choco Café U Červené židle, in our hot chocolate round up, there was an outcry. This delightful chocolate-themed eatery, tucked away near Betlémské Náměsti in the heart of the Old Town, Choco Café serves up the most divine hot chocolate imaginable: it’s just the silky smooth good stuff melted down then served up in a cup. The result is so unctuous you’d struggle to swim through a river of it even if you wanted to. With more than twenty different kinds of the café’s signature drink on offer, this really is a chocoholic’s paradise. There’s also a confectionary-free lunch menu featuring copiously filled baguettes and a generous side salad.
As if their services to chocolate lovers weren’t great enough, the owners have just opened a second branch – Choco Café U Klimenta – a short walk from Náměstí Republiky. I was there on a recent Saturday morning where I dipped bits of croissant in a little pot of melted chocolate and drank a cup of chocolate while watching the snow fall. I managed to resist splashing out on a kilo sized bar or a fondue set, though, which I see as confirmation that I do have some willpower left.
The Chocolate Cukrárna
Čokoládová cukrárna, Ostrovského 20, Prague 5
A chocolate themed cake shop and café combined: what could go wrong?
Umm, quite a lot actually.
While the Čokoládová cukrárna has plenty of pricey Fair Trade chocolate bars and handmade chocs, on the day I visited there wasn’t much on offer in the way of chocolate zákusky. I opted for a slice of Lanýžový dort, which did hit my choco G-spot, but the interior design – Provence farmhouse chic meets grandma kitsch – was a disappointment. Besides the lilac walls and naff electric chandeliers, the seating area seemed rather dark and crammed with too many tables.
As far as I’m concerned, Fox and Deer’s place at pole position in the Best Chocolate Cake in Prague race remains unchallenged.
Chocolate Loves Coffee – and gourmet chocolate tasting sessions…
Choco Loves Coffee, Jugoslávská 27, Prague 2
Choco Loves Coffee is a relatively new chocolaterie which offers lattes and mochas to go as well as an appealing array of bonbons if want to pick up a treat for your sweetheart as you head home from nearby I.P Pavlova. Most excitingly of all, they organize regular degustační zážitky — tasting sessions — at a local restaurant where you can sample a range of gourmet chocs while sipping a glass of wine. Reserve yourself a place via their Facebook page.
If you love chocolate but fear piling on the pounds, don’t despair: there’s at least one zero-calorie way you can indulge yourself. After incorrectly being blamed for acne, chocolate has become the magic ingredient in spa treatments worldwide. Mystic Temple offers a chocolate wrap which involves being enveloped in Brazilian velvety goodness for thirty minutes before finishing off with a gentle oil-based massage. This sensual experience will set you back 1650 CZK for 90 minutes. The Prague 6 based health centre Cordeus also offers a chocolate massage (800 CZK for 60 mins; 1000 CZK for 90 mins) as do Thai Fit massage studios (60 mins; 900 CZK).
The Chocolate Hair Salon
Should you book an appointment at the Chocolate Hair Studio near Anděl, don’t expect to have molten confectionary rubbed into your scalp. Beauty begins on the inside so Alena Papakiriaksová decided to name her salon after that guaranteed mood booster – chocolate. Clients are welcome to sip on a horká čokoláda while they get recoiffed, and the salon’s décor has a subtle chocolately flavour, but the hair products used are all chocolate-free.
The Chocolate Museum
Prague has its fair share of quirky museums aimed at cashing in on the tourist dollar. If you’re stuck for somewhere to take your relatives during their next visit and fear the Museum of Sex Machines might be too X-rated, give Choco-Story a whirl. In the blurb on its website, the museum promises to bring the 4000-year-old history of that much-loved treat to life through words, pictures, and flavours. Some of the exhibits are a bit cheesy – there are rather a lot of mannequins in odd poses with dodgy wigs – but who could pass up the chance to see an eighteenth century cocoa cup especially designed for gentlemen with a moustache? The ticket price also includes a chocolate-making demonstration where you’ll get the chance to nibble on at least one Belgian praline. There are worse ways of whiling away an afternoon with your nearest and dearest who’ve already seen the other sights.
Everyday chocolate: some tips
What we chocoholics so often crave – and what’s usually lacking in Czech supermarkets – is a decent quality bar to munch on while enjoying an evening at home with our favourite DVD box set (or if you’re super desperate, VIP Prostřeno).
Milka, with its iconic purple cow, just doesn’t cut it for me in the taste stakes. Neither does Orion, with its pitifully low cocoa content and sickly taste. The more discerning can hunt down a bar of organic Fair Trade favorites Green and Blacks or Divine at your nearest health food shop: Country Life stock them both. Homesick Brits can get their hands on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk at their nearest branch of Roberston’s ; Americans with a sweet tooth can indulge their cravings for Hershey’s at The Candy Store. Marks and Spencer do a decent range of chocolate bars at around the 50 CZK mark, and the Tesco Finest range, available in larger stores, is also a pretty safe bet. The Albert Quality Milk Chocolate I taste-tested for this piece was a disappointment. On a recent thread titled Best Chocolate in Prague?, the JD Gross range by Lidl was recommended as a satisfactory everyday sugar fix.
Should you find yourself in Swedish megastore Ikea, console yourself with a 100 gram bar of palatable milk chocolate for only 15 CZK. Don’t bother asking where you can splash out on a box of Thornton’s chocs though: the luxury British chocolate brand’s attempt to break into the Czech market ended in failure.
Know of a restaurant or café serving up the perfect wedge of chocolate cake – or that all-American favourite, the chocolate brownie? Have a favourite everyday chocolate bar we’ve missed out? Help out your fellow choco addicts and share your recommendations in the comments section!
Read also: Chocolatiers in Prague