Best place to get chocolates?
Hi, I'm looking for the best place to get chocolates for a Valentine's Day gift. I've had a chance to try Ethel's, and I dont think they were that great.
Asides from the other usual places (Ghirardelli's and Godiva), does anyone know of place that sells unique, delicious chocolates in the Chicago area (preferably mag mile area)?
I'd like to spend about $50, but would like to get more than 5 pieces of chocolate for that, so none of the $10 per truffle places. Thanks =)
Vosges, in the North Bridge mall on Michigan Avenue (the one with Nordstrom) has excellent chocolates in exotic flavors and beautiful packaging.
I really like Leonidas (www.leonidas.com), though it's south of the Mag Mile and I would call ahead for their hours:
Bank of America Building
231 South Lasalle Street
Tel : 0312 251 8850
Fax : 0312 251 8852
To get an idea of what they have:
From the website it looks like Treasure Island also carries their chocolates.
I posted an in-depth report on most of the artisan chocolatiers in the Chicago area. You can read it at www.chowhound.com/topics/374386
Here is how I ranked them:
1. Belgian Chocolatier Piron (Evanston) - $36/lb - www.belgchocpiron.com
2. Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut (Glenview, Lake Forest - made in Canada) - $50/lb - www.bernard-callebaut.com
3. Vosges Chocolate (Chicago) - $91-100/lb - www.vosgeschocolate.com
4. Leonidas (Wilmette - made in Belgium) - $32/lb - www.cafechocolaterie.com
5. Canady le Chocolatier, Ltd. (Chicago) - $33/lb - www.canadylechocolatierchicago.com
6. Bon Bon (Chicago) - $60/lb - www.bonbonchicago.com
As noted in the discussion at www.chowhound.com/topics/374386 I found the chocolates at Coco Rouge lacking in strong flavors, compared with other artisan chocolatiers. They were also far more expensive than the others.
Obviously it's all a matter of taste and opinion, but I think you can get much better chocolate elsewhere. And for less money, too.
Yes, they are pricewise similar to Vosges, and significantly more expensive than the other seven places, as much as three times more expensive. I found the flavors at Coco Rouge exceedingly bland and not very exciting at all; the exotic ingredients they use just did not make for a better tasting product, in my opinion. Considering that I liked them the least AND they were the most expensive, I wouldn't bother going back. But I think they're ALL worth trying, all nine of them (ten if you include Teuscher). Try them all, and you can do your own comparison test! What I found particularly impressive is that the least expensive chocolates in this group (Piron, Leonidas, and Canady) were among the very best, so if you're looking for value for your chocolate dollar, those are a good place to start.
My vote is for Canady le Chocolatier. My family is there weekly, sometimes more. Michael makes truly fantastic chocolates, and they are a short bus/cab ride from the heart of the mag mile. Plus they seem to be cheaper than many other options.
It may sound strange, but try the passion fruit chocolate. They're all exquisite, though. You really can't go wrong.
I know it's not in the Magnificent Mile, but Rich Chocolates & Candies, sold at Sweet Collective in Lincoln Square has some amazing truffles and yummy treats. It's definitely within your price range and personally, I like to patronize the little guys who make every piece of chocolate lovingly by hand.
The mint truffle is a good stand-by, but every time I go in there's something new to try. And the flavors are unique without being strange.
Over the holidays they had caramel corn – I don't usually like caramel corn, but this stuff was delicious.
>> personally, I like to patronize the little guys who make
>> every piece of chocolate lovingly by hand.
In the above list, that description applies to all of the chocolatiers except for Callebaut and Leonidas, whose chocolates are made elsewhere and flown in. The other seven businesses were started by local Chicago entrepreneurs who just love fine chocolate.
When you go to Piron in Evanston, you can often see Bob Piron making the chocolates if you peek into the back of the store. In the morning, his apron is clean; go there in the late afternoon, and it's full of chocolate smudges. At Canady, too, you can see the chocolate-making area behind the sales area. At these shops (with the additional exception of Vosges, whose chocolates are made off-site elsewhere in Chicago), the chocolate-makers are usually there during the day; they, as well as their sales staff, are happy to discuss their techniques and answer any questions.
Thanks for the mention of the additional chocolatier, Rich; one more place to try! (House of Fine Chocolates, mentioned below, is really more of a bakery than a chocolate shop, just like Vanille Patisserie. It's been over thirty years since I've been there! Maybe I'll keep them in mind for a future visit as well.)