I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
I was going to review The Copper Pig & Social House today, but their operating hours are different than those advertised on their Facebook page, so I found myself outside of a locked door five minutes past closing. Hungry enough to eat the rotting liver of road kill, or worse, Arby’s, I went searching for an alternative that wasn’t too far from my current location. Up the road was Coach’s Corner, but I was in no mood for another pub experience.
On the way to disappointment, I passed Oh Chocolat, a surprisingly spacious cafe across from the newly renovated and as of yet unvisited Keg (or rather The Keg). Ohh is roomy, with massive dining tables apparently lifted from a Pottery Barn spread generously across a huge serving area. You could seriously fit two Starbucks in here. The tables are mismatched. The chairs are mismatched. It’s all gloriously unrefined. Right from the initial impressions, I could see falling in love with a cafe like this, with its bakery operating in full view. The counter greeted me with amazing sandwiches, all claimed to have been made fresh each day, believable since none of them were wrapped. I suspected the server knew who I was, considering she asked me if this was my first time and then went into the speech covering my assumptions of their sandwiches. I eventually settled on the panini/soup combo. She volunteered that men usually elect the bacon and cheddar panini, which of course prompted me to order the “fresh & tasty”—a ciabbata baguette, asagio & artichoke aioli, fresh mozzarella, vine tomatoes & fresh basil tomato and mozzarella. I mean deli style cut mozzarella which came gushing from between the toasted slices, one of the best vegetarian sandwiches I’ve ever had. The soup was mixed. I ordered a tomato hamburger but the latter ingredient was considerably lacking. I counted four spoons that had actual beef. At $12.95, it was a decent value, and I appreciated that there was no tip option when you pay before your meal. Ironically, I ended forgetting to leave one in the cup by the cashier. I felt bad and rightly so. A tip was deserved.
Yes, Ohhh Chocolate is a cafe which doesn’t phone in meals, a trend I had been concerned about regarding them since this blog began (looking at you, Margo’s). Experiences like this make me happy that I decided to include cafes in my reviews. And to think I may never have gone here if it wasn’t for the fact that The Copper Pig BBQ and Social House was closed after 1:30.
Ohhhh Choclat looks great, with rough natural wood, rustic colors, and an open roof—that common approach to painting the pipes and girders when one can’t afford an actual ceiling. I know it’s partially a design intent and partially a solution to a limited budget, but I honestly don’t mind it that much anymore. I guess it depends on the rest of the decor. If it’s a family restaurant or a sushi bar, it doesn’t work, but here, it fits. When all your furnishings are a bouillabaisse of scavenged dining rooms from the houses of Portuguese immigrants, you can be allowed to have a rustic unfinished ceiling. Its way more cozy than The Keg, visible across the huge windows of this cafe. I could outstretch my legs, due laps around my table, and still not interfere with anyone else…of course, it 2:00 and the place is empty; I’m just saying.
To add a bit of charm reminiscent of the memorable Empress Tea House, there are novelty items for sale everywhere, with samples on each table. If that “gutsy garlic salt” you just sprinkled on your sandwich tasted good, you can by a bottle of it. Made locally I believe as well.
Of course, a place shouldn’t be called Ohhhhh Choclat if its speciality were sandwiches, so I couldn’t help but order something they focus in. As I ordered my cream puff and chocolate éclair (those are two different items), I noticed my laptop was still open. The server brought the tasties to my table as I paid. I suspect she might have taken a peek. No worries. It was praise. And what praise. This is the best éclair I’ve ever had. It turned quickly into a dirty mess of chocolate and cream, on my mouth, over my hands and…
…I understand I’m heading directly for a pornographic joke, so I’m going to stop there before it becomes unavoidable…
…Ohh the jizzy white filling was…
The pastries were more expensive than their Tim Horton’s variations but you do get what you pay for. It may not be a daily indulgence, but one can see coming here once a week for quick bite and a pastry to go. Which I did, but we’ll see if this crème puff makes it home.
Ohhhhhh Choclat is a pleasant experience and a preferred destination over what lingers across the street. With its period music calmly soothing me to an almost slumber, if it wasn’t for the slightly uncomfortable chair I was sitting on, I could see staying here for hours. At the very least, it makes for a fantastic date. I’ve only said that a few times—how certain restaurants make better locations for an assignation than others. Although not a dinner spot like North 54, I could see impressing my superior other by bringing her here. Now I only need to find one. Until then, as cafes go, it could be the best in town, and I don’t even drink coffee.
565 George Street
Prince George, BC V2L 1R6