Asheville has its own take on lounging with chocolate: the French Broad Chocolate Lounge at 10 S. Lexington Avenue. (For locavores, it’s near the S. Lexington intersection with Patton Ave.; just above the back door parking lot for Mast General Store, and across the street from the Drhumor Building’s parking lot.) Even their sign, which proudly proclaims “artisan chocolates & desserts,” looks good enough to eat!
Inside, it’s cool and restful and lounge-like–completely conducive to the appreciation of chocolate in its many forms. There are tables and chairs for those who enjoy their chocolate upright, and welcoming leather sofa seating for those who prefer curling up with or sinking into their cacao of choice.
And, oh, the choices! A staggering array of truffles, from single origin and plantation-grown sources to heavenly rose-and-lavender creations crowned with delicate pistachio dust. There are chocolate libations such as the “Frosty Broad” and the Liquid Truffle; there are cups of creme chocolat; there is, of course, hot cocoa. Coffee and tea are available, too–both are old friends of chocolate–and the De-Constructed Latte is especially nice. You can indulge in red wine and chocolate (or white wine, I suppose-perhaps with white chocolate?) or beer–maybe even a beer float, if such is tempting to your palate.
On a recent visit, I opted for a Frosty Broad with a hint of rose and a slice of Maple Butter Cake: a dense, solid cream-colored cake very delicately flavored with real maple syrup and layered with buttercream frosting, also faintly mapled. The kicker, however, was the sprinkle of wood-smoked salt on top of the frosting, which tempered the maple-butter richness of the cake with the slightest hint of…bacon. So good, so unexpected–I could have surreptitiously (or perhaps I should say “syrup-titiously?”) licked the plate so as not to miss a morsel!
If you need further inducement, visit www.frenchbroadchocolates.com. If you’re like me, however, you’ll just find yourself wandering down Lexington Avenue, pulled like taffy (or perhaps a fleur-de-sel caramel?) toward this most delicious of destinations.
Note: If you’re not local and you’re wondering/giggling about the name of this establishment, you should know that the French Broad River runs through Asheville. The FBR is one of only two wide-ish waterways in the region (most are more narrow), and was named for its geographical direction–it ran toward the region’s French settlement. The English Broad River, which ran toward the region’s English settlement, is now known simply as Broad River. For more historical info, read Wilma Dykeman’s The French Broad, which is one volume of the classic Rivers of America series.