I had the pleasure of visiting Hillside Farmacy in Austin recently. I was really looking forward to visiting this place after reading different reviews online. It is newly opened (March 2012) but what is so fantastic about it is its décor. Hillside Farmacy is so called because it is housed in an old, perfectly intact pharmacy which used to be Austin’s first and only African-American run pharmacy for decades. The owners have kept the pharmacy cabinets and even an old soda fountain that was used many years ago (apparently one of the women who works here used to work the fountain back in the days when this was a real farmacy!).
Today it is a very cute café/restaurant/grocery store that sells not only a range of interesting meals but also cheese, breads, jams, hams and other tasty bits and pieces. We get a table inside and I quickly scan the menu for hot chocolates. I had high expectations. Everything is gorgeous about this place (they even have beautiful old blue medicine bottles as salt and pepper shakers!) so the hot chocolate just had to be good. It better be too because their ‘Coco Chaud’ as they called it in the menu was priced at 6$!
Five minutes later I am presented with a rather small white cup with a couple of wilted mint leaves draped over the side of the mug. I remember hearing in one of those reality cooking shows the chef judge saying “If it isn’t part of the dish, don’t put it on the plate”. Is the mint supposed to go in the cup? It looks nice but is so sad and wilted that I push it over to the side and quickly take my first smell.
The hot chocolate smells of nothing really and even worse tastes of nothing! My heart breaks. At 6$ with this décor I was expecting something fabulously chocolately and rich but instead I was given a small shot of frothy milk with just the faintest taste of chocolate. My disappointment was so great that I spent the next 30 minutes in the car with my husband trying to figure out how they could charge 6$ for frothy milk. Perhaps they milk the cows themselves? Perhaps the cows are massaged before they are milked? Perhaps the chocolate is so rare and special that only a tiny amount can be used (hence such a small cup).
We asked and the chocolate is from an Austin based company called Delysia. They also sell bags of it here too if you want to try it for yourself. I visited Delysia’s website and the descriptions and the pictures don’t look anything like what I got. On their site it looks dark and rich, this looks like some good quality hot chocolate (they also sell a Lavender hot chocolate which has completely intrigued me and that I am going to go looking for next time I am in Austin which is luckily in a few weeks time).
Verdict: Hillside Pharmacy is incredibly stunning coffee shop. The staff are outstanding, the food looks great, the prices reasonable. But something strange happened with their hot chocolate, not only is it priced so much higher than all their other drinks, it isn’t actually hot chocolate, at least not the one I got today. Hillside Farmacy, 1209 East 11th st, Austin, Texas.