Where To DINE Now: MoRoCo

MoRoCo is an acronym for owner Kelly Kimel’s labours of love: her two children and…cocoa. Once an art gallery; MoRoCo is an elegant, French inspired lounge in which every nuance, every accoutrement, has been lovingly created with no expense spared. A fondue of joie de vivre.

Enter through a sparkling boutique that showcases extreme chocolate confections into a Baroque salon of plush purple and tantalizing refinements. The menu reveals a culinary landscape fit for an Alice in Wonderland tea party, and entreats us with the decadent salutation: “Welcome all Chocoholics. We don’t promise sobriety. We encourage your addiction.

All the chocolates are handmade and infused in-house using Valrhona cocoa and a potpourri of flavours; but the sweet is balanced with the savoury in a multi-tiered concept of retail at front and hospitality within.

Accommodating the cravings of every guest, one could spend an entire day here—and night—through the seamless transitions from breakfast to brunch, lunch, high tea, after work, dinner, dessert, to late night drinks. There is so much going on that all their bases are covered, and with service that is effervescent.

A day in the life at MoRoCo could begin with a cocktail of seductive ingredients, like the refreshingly frothy Lavendar Cassis with rich and jammy macaroons. How about the Lover’s Lane with white chocolate sip, crème de mint, vanilla vodka, cayenne pinch, steamed milk froth, and peppermint candy smash? It is simply dessert in a glass. The Cocoa Grail of dark, milk, or white chocolate can be personalized with Frangelico, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Bailey’s or Goldschläger. Or why not order your hot chocolate frozen? The only rule here is to celebrate.

Entrees are simple, and each taste or mood is met with a great platter. Charcutérie; artisanal cheeses; or meats like Les Viandes of lamb chops, sliced medium rare New York steak, and roasted chicken breast, encourage sharing and an appreciation for variety. Popular with more than just vegetarians is the Petites Morceaux Végéteriens with bite sized taco crunches of avocado and cheddar; Chef Ryan Kowalyk’s lightly fried version of a caprese salad; samosas of herbed shitake and oyster mushrooms with Swiss cheese; and, in homage to his Ukrainian roots, potato and cheddar perogies. Conveying a sense of play, Chef Kowalyk asserts that “you get to try a lot of things here, and I think that’s a fun way to eat these days”.

Pizzelle du Jour is a thin, crackling, rectangular crust that is heavily flavoured but calorically light. Smoked chicken, sliced cherry tomato, and aged cheddar, accompanied by a glass of Prosecco, makes for a pleasing palate cleanser between a day at the office and an evening of revelry. Some dishes, however, are too luxurious to place in the middle of the table. The Truffled Mac ‘n’ Cheese is a golden blend of aged cheddar, parmigiano-regiano, and béchamel beneath a rustic, bubbly gruyere crust. Accompanied by seasonal greens, you’ll sooner order a second one than share. Steaks are miso soya-marinated, and the rack of pan-seared Lamb Chops in natural jus with a parmesan thyme polenta, and wilted baby spinach, is one tender cut after another of succulent gratification. Everything is delicious yet light.

“This is a place to have fun; a place to come and enjoy. It’s meant to be frivolous, but excellent” shares general manager, Terry Hughes; and that certainly is evident at any time of day. For example, billed as a “chocolate and champagne extravaganza”, MoRoCons will confirm that Sunday afternoon is now the new Saturday night. For the uninitiated, brunch will never be the same again. And while Toronto has longed for high tea menus, hotels are now sending their guests here for this luxury affair. Twelve different artisanal teas or sipping chocolates are accompanied by three tiers of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, pastries, truffles, and macaroons. It’s a beautiful thing, and no one else does it quite like this.

Traditionally ordered last, desserts are listed first. For the indecisive, Les Bijoux Sucrés is a must-try selection of unique and clever sweets like crisp Spring Rolls filled with warm dark chocolate, banana and peanut butter, with two dipping sauces of raspberry and caramel; and the MoRoCo Burger and Fries–an all mousse chocolate patty with lemon jelly on a vanilla-poppy seed bun, served with shortbread cookie “fries” and a raspberry “ketchup” sauce. S’Mores comes with a faux campfire and instructions for the six steps from “torch to taste”. The Chocolate Fondue is offered in dark, milk, or white chocolate, or a Holy Trinity of all three. And for those who just can’t stay, a single fondue-to-go allows us to carry our fix away. With an endlessly creative menu in one of Toronto’s most beautiful rooms, it’s no wonder this has become the go-to place for romance and fun.

Oscar Wilde famously wrote “the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it”. Scanning this cozy lounge, and the smiles of appreciation, we can’t help but agree.

MoRoCo, 99 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Ontario / 416-961-2202 www.morocochocolat.com

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