I have a thing for open fire places. I find them comforting. It’s not just the flickering amber flames or the raw heat emanating from glowing embers. It’s the scent. The smell of burning wood swirling from a fire place immediately takes me back to chilly winter afternoons at home with my siblings. We would sit by the fire after school gulping our hot drinks and watching the rain fall onto my mother’s garden. It was grey against green out there, but we were warm from deep within our bones. For us, it was the ultimate feeling of security. That sense that nothing could touch us. Walking into Mörk’s Chocolate Brew House that same feeling of childhood comfort returned. Perhaps it was the smell of smoked beech lingering from my cup, or the unmistakable scent of chocolate as we poured it, hot and thick, into our glasses. I guess for everyone these aromas conjure up something different. The key is to close your eyes, take a whiff and forget where you are – just for a moment.
I was so happy to hear of the opening of Mörk’s new café and concept store. When I interviewed Kiril and Josefin a few months back they spoke with such passion about their product that I couldn’t help but get excited with them. Mörk’s Chocolate Brew House is the couple’s newest venture and an Australian first. The café is dedicated solely to the art of drinking chocolate, with Mörk’s signature dark blends taking centre stage. Now when these guys say it’s just about the chocolate they are serious. With not a single coffee on the menu you couldn’t get a skinny latté, even if you dropped to your knees, balled your fists and begged. Josefin, the master chocolatier behind the cult drinking chocolate brand, has pushed the boundaries to bring some unexpected chocolate beverages to the Mörk menu. I went along to visit the store on a sunny Sunday afternoon and founds lines of people snaked out the door. A sure sign they are doing something right.
The menu is simple to navigate. We were there for drinking chocolate and there are nine on offer as well as a couple of water based chocolate beverages. You can choose from Mörk’s house hot chocolate range like the original dark 70% cacao, or go for one of the more creative signature drinks. There are a few sweet snacks available too – think fluffy brioche smothered in dark chocolate spread and house made marshmallows.
We began our afternoon with Josefin’s recommendation, the Chocolate Soda. Presented as a simple glass of bubbly soda water, this one might appear as a mistake when it first arrives at the table. But wait a few moments and the performance begins. It starts with a couple of spritzes of citrus mist to prime the soda before a generous dose of flowing milk chocolate is poured right in. The result was a little startling. The drink is light and frothy without compromising on those rich milk chocolate flavours. Who knew a chocolate drink could be refreshing and creamy without a heavy milk base? I liked it. Actually, I loved it.
The drama is taken up a notch with Mörk’s now famous ‘Campfire Chocolate’. This one comes in four parts: a jug of dark drinking chocolate, a marshmallow on a stick, a sprinkling of smoked salt and an overturned, stemless wineglass encasing some seriously divine-smelling smoke. We were encouraged to really savour the scent of the smoke captured in the glass as we first overturned it, and then again once we had poured the chocolate into it. This drink was more about the smells than the taste. I was intrigued with how the scent of the smoke deepened and developed when the dark drinking chocolate was added. The grilled marshmallow on the side was a nice touch, adding a bit of nostalgia to a drink already reminding me of my younger years.
Those who spent their formative years slurping chilled chocolate milk will love Mörk’s grown up version. The ‘layered chocolate’ is a simple offering made from Mörk’s signature dark drinking chocolate swirled with chilled milk and topped with a hot and creamy custard. The idea is for diners to relish the delicious dichotomy of hot and cold. But for me it was the melding of the delightfully bitter dark chocolate against the super sweet topping that made this dish shine. The custard is noteworthy in itself. Wonderfully thick and with a hint of citrus flavour we devoured it by the spoonful and longed for more.
In a city where caffeine reigns supreme some might consider Mörk’s ‘no coffee’ Brew House an abomination. But the lines out the door and groups sprawled on Errol Street’s grassy median strips tell a different story. I overheard someone say that Mörk’s Brew House will be the Gelato Messina of the cooler months, and that sounds about right. But Zernell’s own ambitions are a little different, “everyone grows up with sweet hot chocolate from childhood, and we wanted to push the boundaries” she said. “If we could get as excited about drinking chocolate now as when we were kids, wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?” Well, I’m not going to argue with that.