As someone who is perpetually single, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that makes me angry, sad, and slightly nauseous. I have never been a hopeless romantic, but a few years ago, I realized that self-loathing and pity were not going to get me anywhere. Instead, I decided that Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to grab a hold of my single friends (girls and guys) and rejoice in our freedom and independence.
Last year we kept it simple with beer and 10¢ wings at a local bar, but as the day approaches this year, I am thinking that I might splurge a little by revisiting one of the most deliciously intoxicating (and fancy) events in downtown New York City.
I went to an opening event at the Chocolate Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park recently with one of my best girlfriends in tow to be sure that a) I wasn’t shy with my chocolate and b) I wouldn’t walk around with chocolate on my chin all night! The room’s decor is intended to induce romance, with subtle lighting and striking views (think New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, and the Verrazano Bridge), but singles can rest assured that the endless, decadent chocolate, the bottomless glasses of delicious champagne, as well as a selection of chocolate martinis floating around the 14th Floor Rise Bar make it easy to ignore the couples and their “I-am-so-in-love-with you” vibe.
As a native New Yorker, I was kind of indecisive about the cheesy “I Love New York” theme for this year’s Chocolate Bar, an annual one-month long event masterminded by award-winning pastry chef, Laurent Richard. But, I will say that those visiting from out of town will love to see the chocolate replicas of some of New York City’s most famous pieces of architecture, including the Chrysler and the Empire State Buildings.
My favorite recreation was the chocolate model of Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull statue. Made from solid chocolate and supported internally by a steal frame, the bull is not only a culinary marvel, but also fun to pose and take pictures with.
The fine chocolate desserts are presented on a sculpture of the Brooklyn Bridge, with chocolate miniature cars on the lower level. Within the walls of New York Brownstone houses, we selected from either milk or white chocolate-covered strawberries that feature beautiful floral designs etched into the bottom.
And the greatest thing about the Chocolate Bar is that the presentation is only the beginning. Your taste buds (and even your olfactories) are getting the real treat. The menu consists of sumptuous gourmet options: yummy chocolate molten cakes straight from the oven served with decadent pieces of toffee and melting banana walnut ice cream mmmm … my favorite! There is also crème brulee (my other favorite), chocolate cakes topped with a smooth and thick raspberry sauce (yet another favorite) and even a peanut butter filling delight sandwiched between two thick chocolate squares and topped with crumbled peanut butter cups. Come hungry.
The decadence is matched in abundance with the champagne. My glass was never empty because as soon as the attentive staff saw it nearing the bottom, another full flute of bubbly was in my hand. The diligent service, endless drinks, and fabulous chocolate made my evening the perfect girls’ night out. And now, I can’t wait to recreate it this Valentine’s Day. How can I possibly go back to wings and beer?
The Chocolate Bar is open Friday and Saturday nights from February 1st through March 1st 2008 with a special seating on Valentine’s Day. The cost is $75 per person and space is limited so plan ahead—call 917.790.2600 for reservations.
Note: If you feel like you won’t be able to make it home after such a feast, then why not stay? The Ritz-Carlton is offering three overnight packages that include admission into the Chocolate Bar. The best bang for your buck is the Sugar and Spice Package which includes one night accommodations for two in one of the hotel’s 298 rooms or thirty-nine suites, entry into the Chocolate Bar, and a fifty-minute couple (or single-Valentine’s-Day-hating-friends) Oasis Massage at the Prada Beauty Spa. Starting at $899, the package must include a Friday or Saturday night.