If Willy Wonka reinvented the tea party, the resulting dream come true would be pretty close to Chocolate Decadence at the Ritz Carlton. Every Friday evening through March 30, the hotel's Lobby Lounge is transformed into chocolate bliss. For $30 per person, the hotel grants you unlimited access to chocolate in many glorious, indulgent forms.
The pastry kitchen sets to work days in advance to prepare housemade candies, caramels, lollipops, parfaits and pastries for the buffet. Chocolate, which I could eat with anything, meets bananas, peanut butter, coconut, praline and even lychee in dozens of offerings. Tarts, napoleons, eclairs and cakes competed for space on my multiple plates. There are even little canvases of chocolate art. There's also a chef's special; last weekend's was chocolate tapas, which included fried-to-order beignets and brioche toast with housemade Nutella.
The crowd of chocolate fiends ranged from little kids who couldn't believe their eyes to adults who couldn't believe that this wasn't around when we were kids. In my eagerness to indulge, I skipped dinner and plunged straight into the decadence. I would recommend nibbling on a little savory morsel before sugar-loading, but if you think you can stand the sugar rush, who am I to advise? There is a bar menu with sandwiches and light bites available. But for if you only want more chocolate and you've already paid for the buffet, the bar can whip up chocolate cocktails at a discount. With the fireplace roaring, it's an ideal destination for a special date or a way to pass a chilly night. Just make sure not to pull an Augustus Gloop while you're there: There are no Oompa Loompas to get you home to safety.
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