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Cocomelt — Syrian chocolate cafés come to London

Oli's latest review takes him to chocolate heaven.

Some of the fondest memories of Sarah’s Syrian childhood were in the chocolate and crepe cafés that proliferated in her home country. Now, after making a dramatic shift from the city grind of auditing and seeing her brothers’ success with a similar concept in New York, she has brought that same chocolately feeling of home to London. At the same time, she has managed to capture hearts and minds from across the country and the world with creative dishes from sushi, burrito, and even fettucine crepes. If you can dream it, it is probably available in chocolate form at Cocomelt, and it probably tastes great too.

Now, we visited at lunchtime, so a crepe from the short but well-thought-out savoury menu was up first. Options here are limited and didn’t use to exist at all but after repeated requests, Sarah introduced them late last year. Ours was the Italian — a good balance between mozzarella, pesto, balsamic glaze and cherry tomatoes. It more than does the job for lunch and is light enough in flavour to allow the crepe mixture’s own flavour to shine.

The Italian

That crepe mixture is the result of constant testing and evolution. Sarah was helped by her brothers opening first in the US and they spent a long time perfecting the recipe first. Here though, with different ingredients and food regulations, the room was there for even better results. Over time, the outcome is a crepe that is light and full of a flavour all in itself and, most importantly to Sarah, not crispy!

The concept around the chocolate here is key to understanding the menu. Upon entering, you are greeted by three giant chocolate fountains: one white, one milk, and one dark. All of that chocolate is sourced from Belgium and every dish and drink is available with your choice of the three. The white is predictably sweet and the milk a little too much for my liking — the dark though is superb and a mix is often the best way to go depending on your dish. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is available with everything as well and seems sensible given the sheer richness of almost everything on offer.

Social media explosions have somewhat spearheaded Cocomelt’s success and, accidental or not, the signatures that it has become known for are photogenic and ‘Instagrammable’ to say the least. The crepe burrito is my standout — filled to the rim with all manner of tropical fruits and double-wrapped before being drizzled in chocolate. The fruits are the key here and wherever else they appear on the menu as they lend the necessary balance to the decadence of pure melted chocolate.

Crepe Burrito

Crepe sushi is on offer too. For my sins, I didn’t use the chopsticks provided (one day I really am going to crack this) but definitely preferred the banana-wrapped option to the brownie. The crepe layering here is much thinner than that of the burrito with similar amounts of chocolate with means the fruit is a better balance than ever.

Crepe Sushi

Fettucine might seem like an odd one to throw into the mix but is hilariously thought out here to brilliant effect. The crepes are cut up with a pizza slicer to create the pasta-like strips, the chocolate drizzle forms the sauce, and the strawberries sub in for mushrooms. Overall, this is the lightest of the bunch and ticks the box of your social media feed too.

Crepe Fettuccine

Waffle sticks and pancakes are also an option and the first is undeniably a good choice if you are on the go. The mini pancakes seemed a little tasteless to me when compared to the crepes and I’d say the same about the waffles too. If you are going to visit, absolutely go for the crepes that this place is so famous for.

Waffle Stick

Drinks are, as you might imagine, far from neglected. The coffee is described by co-founder Sarah as ‘her baby’ and after a long journey of exploration and education in the world of coffee beans and roasting, she settled on a local London supplier that provides the punchy espresso that I think is all but a necessity with dark chocolate. Hot chocolates are quite the creation with chocolate from the fountain steamed with milk to create a light and dangerously drinkable offering. The Biscoff twist is even more substantial — the process is identical with a generous offering of Biscoff spread added into the mix. The result? Ridiculously indulgent but one to steer away from if your teeth aren’t incredibly sweet.

Biscoff Hot Chocolate

The really remarkable thing to me about Cocomelt is the price point. In spite of constant and seemingly never-ending price rises from suppliers, everything here comes in at less than ten pounds per person. Clearly, that has allowed them to create a loyal and ever-returning customer base alongside the tourists that you might expect to be the main revenue driver so close to Covent Garden and Shaftesbury Avenue. Value is something so important to me and to Sarah too — it means that the memories of regular visits to similar places during her childhood in Syria are genuinely possible for groups of friends and families alike.

What Sarah and her team have come up with on Wardour Street is truly unique and perfectly fits the Soho market with both tourists and regulars so nearby. It’s no surprise to me that fairly rapid expansion is on the cards and I have faith that Sarah will do so in a careful and considered manner. Chocolate is just about my favourite thing in the world and, if you are the same, Cocomelt is one of those places that simply needs to be ticked off your bucket list.

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