‘Be good to yourself, Eat more chocolate’. With a statement like that how can one resist the charm of The Chocolate Bar? I spent a lovely, long and pleasant afternoon at the place with a big bunch of friends and their children – I don’t know who was more excited by the word ‘chocolate’!
Although this isn’t strictly a fully considered review I could not help doing a quick mini-review of the place and a few of the dishes. Quite a few of the dishes were calling to me such as the cocoa cream-based tagliatelle, or the steak salad which had an interesting-sounding mango dressing, and the ensalad dela casa (the house salad) which sounded like a really lovely and fresh tuna salad – dishes perhaps to try out on another visit. In the end I opted for the No Mayo Tuna Sandwich as a lighter dish option.
As a large group we really tested the servers ingenuity in setting up a big enough table arrangement for us all outside. Whilst the décor inside is quite stylish and the seating varied and modern, the outside seating is a little less extravagant. If you are a larger group wanting to sit outside I would advise you call them on the day and ask for appropriate seating to be set up for your expected time of arrival. The view and ambience on their outside terrace was amazing however the only link to the inside was that the tables were white – but the staff has done well to keep them bright and stain free in this outdoor setting.
I had a smooth bittersweet (dark) mocha whilst waiting for the mains to be served. I especially enjoyed the extra touch from the barista’s coffee art decorative skills which I am interpreting as a swan! Unfortunately we did have a very slow service and my fellow diners who had ordered hot dishes like pasta were served a further 15 minutes after everyone else. Seems like they have a few kitchen efficiency issues which is a little difficult to understand when much of the menu comprises of less time intensive dishes like salads, sandwiches, desserts and drinks.
The bread of my sandwich was beautifully baked and complemented the filling inside which refreshingly had not been heavily seasoned. It gives me an idea of what to do with my own tuna sandwiches instead of drowning the tuna in a mayonnaise dressing. The olive tapenade and capers were good, but it could have used bigger hit of lemon juice hit as it was lacking the punch I was expecting from those flavours.
Many of my fellow diners ordered the CBNY beef burger with fries on the side. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture but there were issues with the dish. All the burger buns had been over-heated and had black tinged tops – one diner said you would have had to have a torpedo missile to get through the hard bread itself, and ended up leaving most of it on his plate. Also on the execution side of the dish the fries had been re-fried and were very crispy and not at all like they are visualised in the menu.
The burger is priced at QR 56 which some would imagine is because of the quality of the burger, however the burger comes with two burger patties which is not stated anywhere on the menu, and probably explains the pricing. I tasted the burger patty and it was pure meat – the burger equivalent of a steak – if you like that sort of thing you will enjoy the burger. I prefer flavour preferably due to a well-seasoned and handled burger patty but I will take excellent condiments as a runner-up prize. However, all this burger could rely on to keep it moist and flavourful was one tomato slice and a big blob of mayonnaise.
Portion control was also a problem with the desserts, and most lay unfinished on the plate – can you imagine the horror of uneaten chocolate desserts! The Chocolate Lava Cake came with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream that was good, but nothing to write home about. The cake itself looked like it had landed on the plate with a big thud and really needed to be hotter to appreciate the smooth, runny chocolate inside.
I shared the Classic Chocolate Brownie which also came with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. It really could have used a chocolate sauce drizzled on top, and again would have benefited from being hotter so that the ice-cream was able to do what it does best which is melt and mix with the chocolatey flavour of the brownie. The brownie was very flat and just seemed average and not very special, which is a shame considering we were at a place where chocolate is the ingredient being highlighted. Compared to the sticky date cake I enjoyed at Maya this was rather disappointingly average. It is a case of almost, but-not-quite-right – needs more conceptualising.
A few of the more positive comments from fellow diners was that the veal bacon was one of the best they had tried; the Oreo milkshake and the chocolate milkshakes were delicious; and the chocolate sundae was exciting for the children.
Overall, it is a mixed review. It is a family-friendly place and a great location to spend an afternoon. The staff members are helpful and friendly. But there were execution problems with some of the dishes and this is not a place to visit if you want your food quickly. I do like the place but I question whether I am ready to give it another shot anytime soon – no matter how much their chocolates and cupcakes are calling me.