Bittersweet symphony

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "For every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing". If, for you, that's usually chocolate, a trip to Choc De! might cure you of the ailment

A red brick wall at the far end of the room and dark wooden beams on the ceiling lend Choc De! in Nana Chowk a certain warmth, in bold defiance of a seriously powerful air-conditioner that seems determined to turn visitors into popsicles. That ice cream was stored in another showcase seemed an unnecessary extravagance in this frosty space. Really, they could easily stock it on the shelves at this room temperature.

With an Orange Passion Cake, topped with creamy rosettes lined up alongside equally impressive chocolate and pineapple cakes, an assorted range of brownies, swirling mousses and an array of doughnuts and pastries, the
display is indeed tempting.

What we experienced shortly after was quite contrary to the display; reminding us of the Greek myth of Tantalus. Legend goes that he was punished for making a few bad dietary decisions. Once a favourite of the Gods, Tantalus was condemned to suffer eternal frustration by being transfixed in a pool beside a glorious fruit tree. The water would recede every time he tried to drink it and the branches would rise every time he reached for a fruit.

We are habitually fond of dealing with cravings in the manner advocated by Oscar Wilde, who wrote, "The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it". So, we sampled a colourful slice of Almond Chips Pastry (Rs 60), Chocolate Ball (Rs 14), a regular brownie and an Oreo-topped one (Rs 50 each), a slice of Tiramisu cake (especially since it had no label and the attendant called it Rum Cake) and the only remaining pieces of two savoury snacks -- a Szechwan Paneer Roll (Rs 25) and a Vegetable Puff (Rs 25).

The service was prompt and efficient, particularly since only one attendant seemed trained for the job. Yet, this kindly, suited man, managed to answer queries satisfactorily, attend to multiple visitors, pack boxes, serve a couple of children seated on the benches by the entrance and do all this with a phone wedged between his right ear and shoulder. Watching him work reminded us of the multi-limbed alien shuffling through mail at the
post-office in the Men in Black sequel.

Sadly, the pastries were less impressive than the service at Choc De!. The Chocolate Ball that looked so promising with a wonderfully glossy icing was the first to disappoint. The sponge was dry and coarse and somehow, the recipe had completely muted the intense flavour of cocoa. The sponge quotient of the Almond Chips Pastry was similar and its icing was the buttery sort remniscent of yesteryear flavours (the kind that one would associate with Campa Cola).

The eggless brownies were bitter, crumbly and indigestible while the paneer filling in the sweet bread roll was all spice, no flavour. However, despite its oiliness, the vegetable puff was an acceptable dish. Possibly, perked up with the generous amount of booze, the Tiramisu bordered on the delicious. The flyer suggests you "pamper your sweet tooth" -- we'd beg to differ. 
Time: 11.30 am, to 12.30 am, all week
At: 307, Sejal Bhuwan, Kerawalla Building, Tardeo Road, Nana Chowk, near Bhaji Galli, Grant Road (W).
Call: 65556663

Choc De! didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.

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