There were crowds, there were smiles, and yes there was chocolate at the 13th annual Belmont Shore Chocolate Festival. Second Street was packed with chocolate lovers on Feb. 4, all eager to sample an array of treats from almost 25 different restaurants.
For two hours, festival-goers walked up and down 2nd street, exchanging tasting tickets for chocolate offerings both savory and sweet – chocolate chili and chocolate grilled cheese made an appearance among the many traditional brownies and cookies.
One popular restaurant featured was Legends, which served chocolate dipped churros. The churro, even when paired with a Mexican hot chocolate sauce, maintained a crispy cinnamon sugar exterior which allowed for an easy transfer from plate to mouth. Despite the churro being the vessel on which the chocolate was served, the Mexican hot chocolate sauce was truly the star of the dish. The spiced flavors did not clash with the sweetness, but rather, it nicely complemented it. This chocolate dipped churro certainly earned its spot among the top desserts at the Festival.
Another busy venue was Roe Restaurant and Fish Market. Roe marketed their dessert as a chocolate donut hole. However, a chocolate donut hole was not what they were serving. More accurately, Roe served a beignet coated in granulated sugar with a simple chocolate sauce. The beignet, while warm, tasted a little tough. Moreover, the sweetness of the chocolate sauce was overpowering.
On the flip side, La Creperie Café’s chocolate crepes did not disappoint. The chocolate crepes, while paper-thin, still delivered on decadence. Despite their chocolatey richness, the crepes were light and fluffy, not at all chewy. The addition of sweetened whipped cream and rich chocolate sauce took the dessert over the edge. Even better, the crepes were made to order. As a result, the cold whipped cream slowly melted, coating every inch of the crepe. This crepe was one definitely done right.
But, the restaurant that takes the cake for serving the best food of the Festival has to be Simmzy’s with their chocolate brownies. Close your eyes and picture this: a dense, chocolatey brownie drizzled with a buttery caramel sauce and garnished with a toasted walnut. The brownie had a very filling quality to it and, while chocolatey, was not excessively sweet. The inside was as smooth as fudge (and just as rich); no cakey brownie to be found at Simmzy’s!
Furthermore, this brownie did not crumble under pressure. Rather, it held up to the caramel sauce. Speaking of caramel sauce, it was velvety and buttery. The consistency was just right, too: not as runny as bottled caramel syrup, while not as thick as melted caramel squares. And, to top it all off were toasted walnut pieces.
The walnuts provided a much-needed texture, making the brownie flawless. Even more surprising, this dessert only cost one ticket whereas other subpar brownies cost up to three tickets. Without a doubt, it is the best brownie I have ever had! With the exception of Simmzy’s, restaurant after restaurant seemed to be serving the same old generic brownies one would find at an elementary school bake sale.
However, as far as critiques go, although savory chocolate was offered alongside the desserts, there was not much variety to be found among either. For example, it was also surprising that the only chocolate-dipped fruit served were strawberries with chocolate sprinkles from Powell’s Sweet Shoppe. Furthermore, despite the fact that one may argue that savory dishes were well represented at the Festival, I disagree. Where’s the mole? Where’s the bacon? Where are the potato chips? At this point, I feel like Peppermint Patty remarking on the cuisine at Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving dinner.
The final critique I have in terms of the food is the lack of creativity displayed. More imagination could have been shown, for instance, incorporating popular snacks and concepts into the Chocolate Festival. Creating a dessert around Oreo’s would have certainly generated a line around the block. Also, chocolate pretzels would have been an excellent route, too, due to their versatility as an ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes.
Although there were some flaws found in the food in terms of execution and diversity, the Belmont Shore Chocolate Festival is still a nice Saturday venture. While walking down 2nd Street and sampling the food, one gets introduced to a multitude of new restaurants to try out. It also gives a great opportunity to step outside your comfort zone in terms of what your palate is accustomed to. All in all, I would give the event 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you’re a chocolate addict that finds themselves in Long Beach next February, I would recommend you stop by and check out the Belmont Shore Chocolate Festival.