There are very few college students who will turn down hot chocolate on a cold, snowy day in Manhattan. The few students who do are either allergic to chocolate or are robots that are concerned about ruining their circuit boards. Luckily, my friend Christina and I do not have either of these problems. We were patient as the subway broke down and we stayed strong after falling into at least three slush piles on our way to get our hot chocolate fix. Our destination: MarieBelle’s at 484 Broome Street in Soho.
Now, if you’re from Manhattan, you’ll know that from Columbia, that’s over 100 streets away. If you’re not from Manhattan, you now know that Culinary Society is committed to delicious explorations in taste. For the chocoholics and the adventurous, MarieBelle’s is an exploration you’ll want to try soon. MarieBelle’s is a wonderfully charming chocolate boutique and cafe in Soho. A simple, cerulean sign juts out onto Broome Street. There is a casually underplayed window display – the real treat is the visual preview of MarieBelle’s before entering. When you first enter MarieBelle’s, you are greeted by the barista at the “Express” bar. It sells small to-go versions of its menu. Greet her kindly, but keep moving into the store. You don’t want to miss out on the cafe, or the literal eye candy that fills MarieBelle’s.
The walls are the same cerulean as the outdoor signs. Faintly reminiscent of French palaces, the walls are outlined and embossed with heavy gold swirls. A large chandelier sends sparkling light throughout the room. Displays and stacks of cute boxes showcase MarieBelle’s gourmet hot chocolate mixes. A large glass case houses dozens of truffles that each contain impressively tiny, colored sugar drawings. I asked about these truffles, and there are minuscule stencils that are used to create this artwork on the chocolate. After admiring the various chocolate-themed quotes on the walls, move on back to the cafe. The cafe is a flushed maroon color, complete with its own chandelier, giant mirrors, and vintage photographs. Small rounded tables contain single roses. MarieBelle’s menu offers various food items including crepes, but MarieBelle’s is known for its hot chocolate.
MarieBelle’s menu significantly understates the intense battle of flavor your taste buds are about to fight. The hardcore chocolate drinkers will order a small cup of the Aztec hot chocolate. With 60% dark chocolate, Aztec hot chocolate is traditionally spicy and strong. It was just manageable in its petite cup (which I initially scoffed at…silly me.) The Aztec hot chocolate at the viscosity of pudding – yes, I ate the whole thing with the spoon. Christina ordered and loved her milk hot chocolate with cinnamon and hazelnut. The consistency of the milk hot chocolate was much lighter (read Matt’s chocolate post for more info why this is true) and the hazelnut was crisp and pleasant. We shared some shortbread cookies and a biscotti with our hot chocolate.
MarieBelle’s is a sweet, unique place. A trip to MarieBelle’s should be to not only appreciate its hot chocolate, but also to enjoy the ambiance and personality. It is a great option for friends to gossip, treat themselves, or show an out of towner the kinds of places that New York can offer. Afterwards, digest your hot chocolate by walking around the boutiques of Soho. While Soho is on the high end of the budget, it offers great window shopping. The architecture in this area is not to be ignored – ceramic crown molding meets brick and fire escapes and small dragon statues. I love the character of Soho, and MarieBelle’s fits in just right.