Restore to factory settings can never have the same, tech-like meaning after my accidental stumbling at a cafe that is actually the factory store of a thriving chocolate manufacturer.
Making a paradoxical choice on a sunny San Francisco weekend, I stretched and faced the spot to realize an armory of machines and equipment behind very clear glass, symbolizing the workmanship and craft of chocolate making. A scarcely dressed wooden wall and another with a chalkboard were littered with chocolate goodies and paraphernalia. For this was Dandelion‘s flagship factory, which offered an industrial style cafe environment to dessert enthusiasts and hipster crowds of San Francisco.
The best thing was perhaps the countertop of hand written dessert ingredients with a simplistic representation of each and every dessert. Sans frills and with an obvious penchant for using wood for decor, the entire ambiance was a juxtaposition of industrial reality with sepia chic. I wasn’t given the liberty of indulging with deep, flirtatious conversations with the chocolatiers and quite hastily picked up quite a few of the many choices before perching onto a metal stool to people watch and gape at what factory setting restorations perhaps looked like.
Due to being tucked in the artsy and scandalous Mission District, I paid homage to my whereabouts and got the Mission Hot Chocolate: foamy, spicy and rich, though a tad too frothy which masked the spice. The texture of the European drinking chocolate was comparatively much more illustrious and indulgent, and I chuckled in glee noticing the description of it being Italian-inspired: thick, hot, and rich. Much like my experiences of living in Milano.
There were simply too many choices for nibbles, but I had to commence with my obsession with soft baked cookies. The Nutella stuffed brown butter chocolate chip cookie had massive chunks of chocolate and huge dollops of sea salt which gave it a sumptuous and melting flavor and texture, alike. The stone ground hazelnut spread was a surprise, for one could taste the gooey, nutty freshness with each salivating bite. The double shot cookie combined chocolate with espresso, and while not as dark or strong as promised, was still a non-saccharine, melting nibble of divinity.
There were many other bites I took and surely lost count of thereafter, like a bitter toffee and cacao nib brittle which juxtaposed these crackling elements beautifully, as did the remix of the PB&J sandwich with peanut butter and raspberry ganache layers into a brownie crust, once again combining unexpected elements into one luscious bite. The gigantic Papua New Guinea chocolate s’more in a perfectly torched marshmallow was a tad sticky but very, very satisfying to devotees of chocolate.
The Brownie flight was an intriguing concept and borrowing from the cocktail world, presenting three single-chocolate-origin brownies from Venezuela, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar, meant for only the most discerning of food critic palettes. While baked into a comparable brownie batter, I distinguished a sweet cherry note in the latter and a smoky aftertaste in one of them, too.
The aroma in the air was densely saturated with dreamy chocolate, and I quite enjoyed the laid back crowd from the Mission as they sauntered in and out, full of expectations that were largely met.