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Burdick Chocolates: Only Hedge Fund Managers Need Apply

opinionatedchef Aug 9, 2013 01:17 AM

Wow. Really Wow. I was long overdue for a recon at Burdick's, so I reviewed their website descriptions and stopped by the Harv Sq store today for a sampling of chocolates.
I tasted 9 varieties of chocolates. All of them were inarguably high quality and well made, with clean and delicate eye appeal. Mouthfeel was what it should be - luxuriant and silky creamy, and their dark chocolate flavor profile is certainly unique to them. The problem I had with Burdick years ago, that flavors were often way too subtle/ non existent, was ameliorated this time. I found particularly successful flavors in the Orange, Pistachio, Sesame, Hazelnut and Cardamom varieties.

Given all that, I am unlikely to return. Very simple reason>> It's the cost. As an example, picture this:
--Take 2 quarters sandwiched together. Cover them with chocolate.Do that a second time; now put the 2 pieces in a paper cup. Now hand the nice counter man $2.
Or
--Remove the last joint of your middle finger, cover that with chocolate and put it in a paper cup. And hand the nice man another $2.

I mean, REAlly, who keeps these people in business? ( I guess it's the same people who are loyal regulars of Oishi Boston and OYa and Menton and Grill 23.) And as bad as their pricing was, I found their business ethics equally shocking. Of the 9 varieties I tried, Three were misrepresented. Nowhere on the online shopping page did it explain this, but when you buy a Cardamom Caramel, what you receive is a thin Cardamom Caramel(like 2 quarters...) on top of a separate thin Vanilla Caramel. And when you buy a Hazelnut, what you receive is a Hazelnut chocolate on top of a Pave (non hazelnut) chocolate. Same with the Pistachio and others. well phooey.

So, if you or your mom is a hedge fund manager, sure, go for it. I mean, you might as well have something wonderful to relish on your Maui mountaintop............

  1. u
    ungryippo Aug 19, 2013 12:49 PM

    The chocolate beverages are the thing to go to Burdick's for. The chocolates are only mediocre, IMHO, especially for the price. Stick with the hot and cold chocolate drinks.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ungryippo
      c
      catsmeow Aug 19, 2013 01:28 PM

      The only thing I like from Burdick's is their hot chocolate "mix." It comes in 2 different size packages and when I make it at home, I make it a bit thinner than they do and it's really good.

      1. re: ungryippo
        u
        Uncle Yabai Aug 26, 2013 04:23 AM

        Their pain au chocolat, fresh out of the oven, is most excellent. The chocolates themselves, feh.

        1. re: Uncle Yabai
          FinnFPM Aug 26, 2013 08:34 AM

          I agree, but at this point Taza has ruined my interest in any chocolate that is below 85% dark.

      2. d
        DatatheAndroid Aug 10, 2013 05:45 AM

        I buy Burdick chocolates for some holidays and special occasions, but I probably wouldn't if my parents didn't actually pay for the chocolates as a gift for me. Still, I think that they are well worth the price. At least 99% of the chocolates in the variety box are. They had one spicy white chocolate piece that tasted like cheap crap. I'm not sure if they still make that piece. I hope not. Look at it this way, would you rather have $60 worth of cheap chocolate, or wonderful, high quality expensive chocolate?

        1. j
          jajjguy Aug 9, 2013 08:06 PM

          I don't know nothing about chocolates. But I regularly pay in the neighborhood of $2 for a good espresso, which is one quick mouthful of very intense flavor that rings on my tongue for 10 or more minutes as I walk back to work. Seems comparable, if you like chocolates as much as I like espresso.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jajjguy
            opinionatedchef Aug 9, 2013 09:43 PM

            but j, would you pay $2 for a teaspoon of espresso?
            go for it , j!

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              u
              Uncle Yabai Aug 10, 2013 05:34 AM

              If you're talking about a $5 espresso, then it is roughly $2 per teaspoon, no? And a $5 espresso is not out of the ordinary in many high-falutin' places.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai
                c
                cambridgedoctpr Aug 10, 2013 05:39 AM

                60 bucks per pound for great chocolate seems ok - i guess reasonable is not the right word.

                ok, OC, how much do you pay for chocolate and what do you buy?

          2. cassis Aug 9, 2013 02:55 PM

            Just curious--you say you tasted 9 varieties of chocolates, how does that work? Do they cut off a sliver like at the cheese shop or do they offer miniature portions for tasting? Do you pay a set rate for tasting, or do you mean that you bought 9 pieces?

            8 Replies
            1. re: cassis
              k
              kewpie Aug 9, 2013 03:38 PM

              Did you purchase 9 pieces? Was the total $18? I'm interested in having this question answered as well I just love chocolates
              If there was a tasting involved , how could someone go about getting their own?

              1. re: cassis
                opinionatedchef Aug 9, 2013 06:23 PM

                You just walk up to the nice tall chocolates (I just CANnot bring myself to say bonbons)counter man and say, " may i please have 1 of this and 1 of this and so on until you have a plate w/ all the kinds you have asked for that they had in stock.In my case. 9 kinds iirc. then he hands you a bill for $17.80something and you say "oh, i left my credit card at home. Can I leave my youngest child instead?" hahaha. No,really> then you pay him and say thank you.

                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  hotoynoodle Aug 9, 2013 07:52 PM

                  i don't think the point of this place is to have 9 chocolates at a go. the palate does get tired.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                    viperlush Aug 9, 2013 08:07 PM

                    Exactly. I've found that a (or a couple) pistachio Luxembourger or a chocolate mouse with a cappuccino is enough for me. Just a little decadent nibble. If you like their chocolate, and can exhibit some self control there is no reason to avoid due to price.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                      opinionatedchef Aug 9, 2013 08:24 PM

                      I can only assume that you are assumng i ate them? i tasted them. and yes, it IS really hard to just eat a mote of chocolate when that piece is only the size of two motes. I had intended to taste them and see which i wanted to get to bring home. but when i looked at what $18 got me, i didn't get any to take home. i'm waiting for Chocolee to re-open tomorrow so i can place an order there.

                      but that's all really beside the point. how someone tastes, or eats, food is hopefully not a subject for censure.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                        p
                        pollystyrene Aug 9, 2013 09:36 PM

                        I agree. I'd love to do a tasting of nine different chocolates--if they were really good.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          k
                          kewpie Aug 10, 2013 10:54 AM

                          Hmm, sounds good. I'm going there tomorrow also to get some mixed chocochip cookies, hopefully(!) marzipan stuffed and dipped figs and a few hot beignets... Her cardamom individuals are sublime. I love that even our dog gets a treat( non chocolate & a gift from the proprietress )

                          1. re: opinionatedchef
                            hotoynoodle Aug 10, 2013 04:15 PM

                            i guess i'm thinking that 9 pieces is like gobbling a bag of m&m's. the first fistful is ok, but everything else after that? meh and kinda why bother.

                    2. p
                      PeterHG Aug 9, 2013 01:52 PM

                      One of the wonderful things about Burdick's, is that for just a few dollars, you can eat as well as a hedge fund manager!

                      It's unfair to deconstruct artisan food, such as Burdick's or Menton, then hold them to Walmart production standards and efficiency. At only twice the price of a Hersey bar, a small Burdick's chocolate puts 10X the smile on my face. It's a bargain.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PeterHG
                        opinionatedchef Aug 9, 2013 06:19 PM

                        I don't know if your 'unfair....' was directed somewhere, but i hope one would never be stupid enough to compare artisinal food with box store junk. of course it makes no sense to compare/equate those sources, and i have not seen any sign of that on this thread .

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          p
                          PeterHG Aug 12, 2013 02:06 PM

                          Just to be clear, and I hope you will not take offense, but I think you were unfair in both your focus on price and specific ingredients.

                          It appears that you paid $18 for 9 pieces of chocolate and enjoyed them all. If you believe had had $18 worth of happiness, you should be grateful. If you were not enjoying these $2 bites, I'm not sure why you didn't stop before you hit 9.

                          Your accounting on one flavor wafer vs.two just seems like you're angry about the original price issue.

                      2. k
                        kimfair1 Aug 9, 2013 12:44 PM

                        My wife and I enjoy Burdick's very much (more my wife than I as I'm not a huge fan of chocolates, but I do like them). A plain box is mandatory on Valentine's day (unless I want to sleep on the couch!). Such is the beauty of opinion.

                        1. k
                          kewpie Aug 9, 2013 10:01 AM

                          I just purchased an EF caramel pecan at Fastachi , in Watertown, for $2.50, and it was delicious. Their other chocolates are $36. A lb, which worked out to about $1.50 a ( tiny ) piece( approx 2 dimes atop each other) those too were delicious
                          . I've seen other chocolatiers in Boston /Cambridge for $32-$45 a lb. .
                          I Also paid $12.99 a lb for their delicious " super nut " mix and I would so again.
                          I guess it's about taste/quality.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: kewpie
                            Allstonian Aug 9, 2013 10:13 AM

                            Burdick's chocolates are $60 per pound: http://www.burdickchocolate.com/Choco...

                            And yes, it is indeed about taste/quality - some of us feel that Burdick's fails to justify the price based on those criteria.

                            1. re: Allstonian
                              k
                              kewpie Aug 9, 2013 12:30 PM

                              Hmmm. Just did some informal research. These are prices for the most basic box of chocolates- no suede sliding gift boxes, just cardboard
                              All off of their own websites
                              EH chocolatiers- 6.8 oz ($46.) x 3= 17.oz=( $155.)approx Lb
                              Beacon hill chocolates approx $2. A piece
                              Burdicks $60. Lb
                              Teuscher $78. Lb
                              Chocolate chocolates and Fastchi (approx $36. Lb) each
                              Taza website unavailable

                              1. re: kewpie
                                p
                                pollystyrene Aug 9, 2013 08:01 PM

                                Thanks for doing the research. I was going to comment that I paid an inordinate amount for very bland chocolates at Teuscher. Yes, they were pretty, but I wonder why they can't also be delicious. Their signature champagne truffles were pretty good, not great though, and the other chocolates weren't worth eating. Maybe I'm just a low-rent Lindt gal.

                                I haven't had the chocolates at Burdicks, but do like their iced mochas (with dark chocolate). Their chocolate macarons taste only of sugar, and their coconut kugelhopf was dry as a gecho on a sunny rock the one time I had it. So for me they're a one trick pony.

                                1. re: pollystyrene
                                  w
                                  wonderwoman Aug 9, 2013 08:22 PM

                                  +1 re teuscher.

                                  when i was traveling through europe 30 years ago, people in london insisted that when i got to zurich, i absolutely had to try teuscher's champagne truffles. totally underwhelming, and i'm guessing they don't improve with travel.

                          2. Science Chick Aug 9, 2013 08:17 AM

                            I agree completely. Except for one thing.....I don't really find their chocolates all that wonderful. I WANT to like them, when I've forked over that much money! But I find them cloyingly sweet with little flavor profile. Haven't tried them for a couple of years, though, so maybe they've improved?

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Science Chick
                              Allstonian Aug 9, 2013 08:39 AM

                              I'm in the not-a-fan camp as well. To Pia - much of the issue is that Burdick's pieces are both pricy and VERY small.

                              For that matter, I'm not a fan of their much-praised hot chocolate, either - to me it's just melted chocolate in a cup, and it's not decadent or delicious, it's gross.

                              1. re: Allstonian
                                Pia Aug 9, 2013 08:01 PM

                                That's true, they are small compared to similar chocolates.
                                To OpinionatedChef, next time your ship comes in, try EH Chocolatier -- also local, also pricy, but larger pieces, IMO better tasting, really beautiful, assertive but still harmonious flavors, and no false advertising.

                                1. re: Pia
                                  c
                                  Crazy Egg Aug 10, 2013 06:56 AM

                                  If OC wishes to try some EH chocolate, I believe they have them at Fastachi's in Watertown. EH Chocolatier has a chocolate club which is about to start taking orders in September for their Oct-Mar monthly chocolate offerings.

                                  1. re: Pia
                                    Allstonian Aug 10, 2013 06:59 AM

                                    Here's the thing: I don't personally care how wee the pieces are at Burdick's, and I might well be willing to pay $60 a pound for a product that I thought was transcendent. But to me, Burdick's is not. The chocolate itself is top-notch, but the flavors don't come through and in the end it's just not a style of candy that moves me.

                                    I would definitely rather have $60 worth of Serenade's chocolates, for instance, than a pound from Burdick's.

                                    I'd definitely like to try EH Chocolatier as well - have heard many good things about them.

                                2. re: Science Chick
                                  u
                                  Uncle Yabai Aug 9, 2013 09:35 AM

                                  I also find their chocolates rather festerous and firpantic. But their pain au chocolat and their mocha cafe is killa.

                                  1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                    justbeingpolite Aug 9, 2013 11:24 AM

                                    huh?

                                    1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                      mtm7654 Aug 12, 2013 09:52 AM

                                      Or as my brother would say (about wine) "obsequious yet flatulent".

                                      1. re: mtm7654
                                        MC Slim JB Aug 19, 2013 02:34 PM

                                        Reminds me of the great Patton Oswalt's "Wines by the Glass", from "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland": http://books.google.com/books?id=XQQPM0LOS8IC&pg=PA91#v=onepage

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  2. Pia Aug 9, 2013 07:40 AM

                                    I agree with you that it's very expensive, but is it that different than other high-end chocolates? $1.50-2.50 per piece seems pretty common.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Pia
                                      k
                                      kenner83 Aug 9, 2013 12:58 PM

                                      Agreed, not sure the price criticism makes sense. I don't think most people buy gourmet chocolates piece by piece looking to get full -- seems like the implicit comparison here is to the king-size Snickers you could get for $1.50. $2 for a tasty bite doesn't seem that crazy to me, though the OP mostly seems to think they're not super tasty.

                                      Things like the mice and penguins are expensive because you're paying for (what some people see as) little bits of hand-crafted art that happen to taste good.

                                      And to me the Burdick hot chocolates ($2-5 depending on size) are actually a great value compared to, say, Starbucks. Fewer ounces of beverage, but much higher quality and enjoyment. At the Harvard Square location at least, you'll see plenty of students in groups buying hot chocolate and sharing pieces of cake, and keeping Burdick's in business...

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