L. A. Burdicks
52 Brattle Street
Click here to go Inside L.A. Burdicks.
L.A. Burdick (or simply “Burdick”) – the famous chocolaterie and café just off of Harvard Square – is a place of indulgence and escape. Go to Burdick for the selection of gourmet chocolates, cakes, and hot chocolates but also go for the atmosphere – stepping inside produces a milder version of what Lucy must have felt the first time she stepped through her closet door and entered Narnia. While there are no fawns (there is Turkish Delight, however) Burdick manages to feel like something out of another place and time.
Burdick is deliciously old-fashioned. This applies to both the Burdick chocolate (which is made by hand) and the atmosphere. An antique silver chandelier hangs from the ceiling, warmly illuminating shelves piled high with boxes of chocolate wrapped in thick brown paper, glass jars stuffed with chocolate almonds, piles of marzipan and canisters of pure, freshly ground cocoa powder. The walls are adorned with tapestries, and a sign in a corner written on thick parchment reads: “By popular demand, no cell use while in the cafe.” Burdick’s selection of chocolates rests behind a glass case in the front of the store, by the window (customers often congregate here, marveling over the delicate, miniature chocolate creations which contain (among other things) fruit, nuts, ginger, caramel, cherry liquor and rich ganaches). Try one of Burdicks’s signature chocolate mice. I had one, a petite thing with peeping ears and a delicate tail made of thin silk ribbon. It was small and perfect; its milk chocolate outer shell melting in my mouth to reveal a thick, buttery ganache center. I could have eaten an entire family. Instead, I moved onto the pastry and drink bar at the back.
The barista let me sample the dark and milk hot chocolate. I had vague expectations of a richer version of Starbuck’s hot chocolate: completely off base. Starbucks hot chocolate tastes like what one would expect – steamed milk, and chocolate sauce. Burdicks’s hot chocolate tastes like the melted down, condensed essence (the soul, I’d imagine) of an extremely rich chocolate bar. It isn’t really a drink: its gourmet liquid chocolate served in delicate china.
Burdick also offers traditional coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas but both the person before me and after me in line ordered the hot chocolate. The hot chocolate needs to be tried at least once (although good luck finishing an entire cup, especially if – like me – you decide to pair it with a slice of Burdick’s signature chocolate cake).
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