Burdick’s hot chocolate is definitely the best in Harvard Square, and I would go so far as to say the best in all of New England. The richness of its consistency is incomparable. It is like dipping a straw deep into a softly steaming molten chocolate bar, Ahh…
There is nothing ordinary about this hot chocolate. This is definitely not Starbucks or your local café. The base of this artisanal chocolate is dark, rich, and flavorful Valhrona, mixed with other superb chocolates to create their house blend. The chocolate is grated and mixed with a small amount of steamed milk so it remains very thick and dark (also available in milk chocolate, white chocolate, iced, or with espresso for a real mocha – but try the original dark!).
The long lines outside the door say it all about this little hot spot. The biggest problem here is finding a table on a Sunday afternoon. Have you heard about the parking in Boston? Well, getting a table here may be more difficult than finding a parking spot downtown. Of course, you can always get it to go, but I insist on sitting down so one can drink from the large bowl-like cups. I’ve waited 45 minutes in the dead of winter before. It makes good people watching; some people are overtly obsessed with getting their chocolate, and the pleasure shows on their faces.
Burdick’s sells fabulous desserts and chocolates as well, but I must say it is almost impossible to have any chocolate desserts at the same time as the hot chocolate, it’s just too much. I love the Cannelles for the small lavender-rum scented cones are one of the few things both in size and texture that go well with the hot chocolate. The Rhubarb brown butter tart, (spring selection) and Apple tart (rest of the year) are also great and they come heated, so the crust is very flaky and the apples (or rhubarb) warm, served with softly whipped cream.
There are many rich chocolate cakes at Burdick’s, like the “Harvard Square,” an unbelievably dense chocolate brownie concoction which is very popular, but unfortunately (or fortunately for my waistline) I have never tried it because I’d choose the hot chocolate over any of the pastries. But I see many people at nearby tables having a restrained cup of tea or espresso and one of those deadly squares. Dieters beware! Do not even walk down this side of the street for fear that the heavenly scent will destroy your will.
If you like homemade chocolates, you can choose from their huge selection and get a variety of interesting wooden and rattan gift boxes. My favorites are, Cognac Truffles, and the Jaffa, (dark chocolate and orange) though they are known for their mice with cute little almond ears.
Burdick’s also has a great restaurant in the quaint New England town of Walpole, New Hampshire, if you are ever traveling in that direction. It is scenic, but there is almost nothing to do except eat exceptional food and savor the luscious hot chocolate.
If you’re tooling around Boston or Cambridge on a winter day or a cool summer evening, head over to Burdick’s and spend an hour people watching and devouring your delights.
L.A.Burdick Cafes: 52 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA (Hot Chocolate $4.50),
40 Green St., Northampton, MA. Restaurant & Café: 47 Main St., Walpole, NH.
©Christina Kay Bolton