The Place Somewhere in the middle of very posh shopping centre called Claremont Quarter, the chicest shopping centre I’ve seen and shopped at so far in Perth. For such an upscale cafe or chocolatier or, how Koko Black calls itself, a chocolate salon, Claremont is the perfect venue for it. There’s the whole range of chocolates and chocolate merchandise for sale as soon as you step into the salon. Go towards your left and there are ample seats inside if it’s not very busy but there are seats outside the salon as well should you arrive at around 8:30pm-ish on a Friday or Saturday night.
The Occasion/s I’ve been here 4 times since Koko Black opened in Perth in March 2011. Three out of 4 times was to catch up with friends and this is the hippest place to be for coffee (er, I mean chocolate) nowadays. The other time I was here was just to satisfy my craving for good chocolates.
The Good Why the hot chocolate, of course! Why else would you go to Koko Black if not for their hot chocolate – made with couverture chocolate and cream and milk giving it that awesomely rich satisfying drink? I first had this drink in Melbourne and the hot chocolate was sooooo rich it gave me a sore throat. So now I just settle for the light version of it. Still as good but without the full fat cream and full fat milk I suppose? There is an obvious difference in taste between the full fat and the light hot chocolate. If the richness of the chocolate and the cream does not give you a sore throat then go for the full fat version. It is totally worth it…unless of course you plan to have a cup every day.
The salon also serves desserts, as in cakes and tarts and even sandwiches. I haven’t tried all the desserts yet but the ones that I find worth trying are the chocolate moelleux and the chocolate orange mousse dome (although both are too sweet for my liking).
Chocolate moelleux is like a chocolate fondant with gooey molten chocolate coming out when you slice the cake in half. This is served with a raspberry espuma and some ground pistachio. The cake was warm and gooey and the raspberry espuma’s sourness was able to tone down the sweetness of the cake.
The chocolate orange mousse dome is, well, orange flavoured chocolate mousse shaped like a dome served with orange compote topped with cream and a chocolate gondola of pistachio nibbles. Nothing very special about the mousse but it’s one the salon’s better desserts.
Dont forget the main attraction too: chocolates – in bars, flakes, pieces and other shapes. The 54% dark chocolate bar is to die for! Before they opened in Perth I brought back a bar of 54% dark chocolate from Melbourne and I had to eat it nibble by nibble trying to save the bar until I can go back to Melbourne to replenish my stick. I bought a bar last night in Claremont and I am already halfway through it today! Yum!
The Could Have Been Better Okay, food wise the petit tarts could have been much better. I was having a bonding time with my auntie one day and we decided to get the Trio of Desserts that consisted of your choice of petit tarts. We had the lemon tart, chocolate tart and chocolate opera cake. The crusts of the tarts are quite bland and too moist and not flaky enough. The lemon curd for the lemon tart was very eggy with a little hint of lemon. It’s mostly the egg taste that really bothered me. The chocolate tart was more edible since I’m guessing they use Koko Black chocolate for that. I have had better lemon tarts and chocolate tarts elsewhere. The chocolate opera cake was just plain dry. I’d much rather pay a little more for a satisfying chocolate moelleux.
Service could have also been much better. This is not like other cafes where you place your order at the counter and take a number. You walk in, choose a seat and someone will attend to you…a long time after you have seated specially when it’s very busy. Perhaps the salon is still young and more training is needed to cope with the hype that the name Koko Black has created. One of the times I was here a young staff member did not even know the products well enough. Asked her what this was and all she could say was “I’m not sure”. Not good enough, in my opinion. And just last night it took forever for a staff to take our orders and it was not even very busy when we arrived. By the time something was being served it was not even what we ordered. They apologised for having a mix up in the kitchen because the computers were somehow now coordinating with each other. To me it looks like they need more floor staff. The kitchen is busy with a lot of staff but, hey, someone needs to be outside looking after the customers too. There was like 2 or 3 staff looking after what could be about 50-60 customers on a busy day.
The verdict Given this is the only place I know in Perth that serves decent hot chocolate or just chocolate for that matter, I would most definitely come back. I have already gone the effort of driving 20 minutes to get to Claremont for a cup of hot chocolate 4 times for the past month so that says a lot already. If only they would open another salon closer to home…