With a name like Bernard Callebaut, this Canadian chocolatier had no choice but to go into chocolate. It seems like a classic chocolate name to me. His family began making chocolate in Belgium 1911 but he chose to move away and settled in Calgary. There are now 31 Bernard Callebaut franchised chocolate shops across Canada and in the US, including one in the Byward Market in Ottawa.
But his story is surprising and a little sad, as Mr. Bernard Callebaut who originally started Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut, doesn’t own the chocolate brand or even work there. A few years back he lost the right not just to the name but even to use all the recipes he had developed, and the whole brand was sold to someone else. Mr. Callebaut himself opened another chocolate shop in Calgary, apparently called Papa Chocolate, which is very popular and on my list of places to visit if I am ever in Calgary.
There are a few excellent hot chocolates in the Byward Market, but Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut in the Byward Market easily takes the crown of best hot chocolate in the market…and perhaps beyond. This store has been on my list to visit for some time now, as last summer when I was in Ottawa they didn’t offer hot chocolate. Good news though, as this year not only did they have hot chocolate, they had about 10 different flavours: pumpkin spice, ginger and orange, caramel, peanut butter. We ordered a couple of the Aztec and one Belgium chocolate. Once you choose your flavor you can then choose the kind of chocolate you want it to be made of. They have everything from bitter sweet to milk chocolate and all the drinks are made with milk and prepared from scratch behind the counter. The woman there recommended the semi-sweet chocolate with the Aztec because it brought out the flavours of the spices more and for the Belgium the bitter sweet.
She was spot on. The Aztec hot chocolate was beautiful and the spice mix fantastic. It had a little bit of a kick but was completely balanced with more spices than I can remember: Cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, cardamom, cloves…and probably another 5 spices. Highly recommended. The semi sweet (60-70%) was creamy and very easy to drink.
In fact the hot chocolate here is so good that you are relatively easily able to ignore the look of the space We were sitting in what is sort of hallway in the back of the shop, that seems to go to the restrooms and to their office. The walls are painted a terrible yellow, and it really is surprisingly unattractive given how beautiful the chocolates are. It is nothing that a little coat of paint couldn’t significantly improve. They have a large screen where you can watch a very short video showing the impressive chocolate sculptures they have made, including a large bull that was presented during the Calgary stampede a few years back.
Verdict: It isn’t the most charming place for a hot chocolate in the market, luckily today there are a handful of excellent options, but the hot chocolate is so good that it’s easier to overlook the somewhat unattractive space where you sit to enjoy it (please renovate the back, then it will be perfect!) Bernard Callebaut, 256 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, Canada