I first came across L.A. Burdick exactly three years ago after a tip-off from a friend in Cambridge (Massachusetts, not UK). I tried the branch there and loved it, but was a little put off by how busy it was. Even late on a weekday afternoon, I still had to wait 20 minutes for a table, such was its popularity!
On my trip to Boston a year ago, I learnt that there was a branch on Clarendon Street in Back Bay, around 10 minutes from my hotel. Although excited, I nevertheless approached it with some trepidation, expecting crowds. However, I needn’t have worried: it was an oasis of tranquillity in comparison. It might have helped that it was gone six o’clock on a freezing cold Tuesday evening, but I wasn’t complaining.
The main draw of L.A. Burdick is the hot chocolate and the Back Bay branch is no exception. However, there’s also coffee, tea and a range of cakes and pastries. And, of course, chocolate. L.A. Burdick is definitely at the luxury end of the chocolate market and both prices and décor reflect this, making L.A. Burdick one the more sumptuously-appointed cafés you’ll visit.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The tranquillity was the first thing that struck me about the Back Bay branch of L.A. Burdick. There was quiet music playing in the background, mingling with the gentle hum of conversation, all adding to the relaxed atmosphere. In that respect, it was much more like the New York City branch which I visited later on in the same trip and in complete contrast to the branch at Harvard, Cambridge.
One thing all three branches of L.A. Burdick have in common is their sumptuous interiors. The Back Bay branch occupies a generously-sized square. Large windows at the front, plus lots of mirrors and lights, including a chandelier hanging from the centre of the ceiling, make it very bright, even on the dark evening I was there. The high ceiling also adds to a sense of space, as does the well-spaced furniture.
One third of the store, to your left as you come in through the centrally-placed door, is given over to the seating. A single wooden bench runs along the wall, wrapping around the window to create a little nook there. Square two-person tables are bolted to the floor at regular intervals (no combining tables here!), along with either short, backless stools or chairs. At either end is a larger, four-person table, similarly permanently attached to the floor.
Immediately to your right is a retail counter for chocolate sales, while the counter for drink-in and take-out customers is right at the back. Between them are two well-spaced aisles of chocolate and hot-chocolate making paraphernalia, where customers can browse at their hearts’ content while their waistlines recoil in dread.
There are lots of nice little touches, such as the coat stand by the door. As well as the chandelier and the mirrors, the interior’s tastefully decked out with flowers. Wood is everywhere, including wooden tables, benches and floorboards, with wood-panelling throughout, although the ceiling was a rather incongruous post-industrial design, with exposed air-conditioning conduits, but all painted white.
L.A Burdick’s exudes class. There is none of the crudity of hollering out your name as you linger at the counter for your hot chocolate. Instead your order is taken, you retire to your table and your hot chocolate is brought to you at your leisure, which is how it should be.
L.A. Burdick also sells coffee and tea, but given its reputation for (and excellence in) hot chocolate it seems silly to come here and have anything else (although in the interests of fair and balanced research, I did try the coffee in New York).
I ordered a small, dark hot chocolate (house blend) which was excellent. Rich and smooth, but not too sweet, it was every bit as good as I remembered it from Cambridge two years before. In quality, it’s on a par with Angelina’s in Paris, my benchmark for all things hot chocolate. Other options include milk or white hot chocolate, which, given how rich the dark one was, could have finished me off. Had I been feeling adventurous, there was also a selection of single-origin hot chocolates to choose from.
My chocolate came in a cup that was slightly larger than I was expecting. Fortunately I hadn’t ordered a large, which came in a small bowl with a handle on the side! Given how rich it was, a large might have led to my premature end…
|220 CLARENDON STREET • BOSTON • MA 02116 • USA|
|www.burdickchocolate.com||+1 617 303 0113|
|Monday||09:00 – 20:00||Roaster||Own blend (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 20:00||Seating||Tables|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 20:00||Food||Pastries|
|Thursday||09:00 – 20:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 20:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 21:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||11:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||4th March 2014|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Boston and Cambridge for more great Coffee Spots.
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