© 2009 Dead Sexy Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
Writer Mirella Radman
Photographer Jenny Gao
When Toronto based entrepreneur and interior designer Kelly Kimel decided to open a restaurant in Toronto’s posh Yorkville junction, she envisioned a space that would be unlike anything else Yorkville currently had to offer. The end result of her creative design and planning was thoughtfully woven into MoRoCo, Toronto’s very first all-chocolate inspired ‘délectation’ which offers diners a glimpse into a magical, elegant and upscale world reminiscent of a 19th century Parisian or Viennese salon with décor to match.
General Manager Terry Hughes (his previous stints included Prego, Rain, Zoom, Sassafraz, Ultra, Blowfish, and the National Gallery) said it best when I asked him to describe the atmosphere at MoRoCo. “This place is really Alice in Wonderland meets Rock n’ Roll.” I couldn’t agree more. Decked out in a gorgeous array of lavender and light gray colours (lavender being the branding shade noticeable throughout MoRoCo’s interior décor), the main dining area features beautiful crystal chandeliers, a large mirrored fireplace, draped grey velvet curtains and upholstered chairs laced with plush satin trimmings. The long bar features an eye-catching gilded mirror while the entrance lounge is designed as an upscale chocolaterie with glass displays featuring truffles, macarons and other morsel-sized delights decked out in candy-store style. Attention to detail left no room spared, and as Terry walked me through the main dining room to the kitchen, he decided to show me the bathrooms which were as opulently laid out as the rest. The ladies room even played on the ‘Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Madeleine’ theme by cleverly incorporating a glazed, ivory tea set (replete with teapot and cups) and fixed to the ceiling upside-down. The only thing missing from this mad world was a matching throne chair and this was cleverly placed in an alcove on the outdoor patio, which I subsequently found out was a favourite spot of the celeb circle visiting Toronto during the recent film festival (Colin Farrell and George Clooney enjoyed some café au laits while rubbing elbows
with the regulars). In line with the quintessentially continental experience that can still be had at Demel’s, Gerbeaud’s, LaDurée and Hermé (confectioners to European royalty), MoRoCo gives Toronto diners and the ladies-that-lunch a sensational atmosphere paired with a robust chocolate experience that sums up the essence of Kelly Kimel’s motto, “Let them eat cacao.”
So what about the chocolate? Opening a restaurant based primarily on the infusion of chocolate in most of its dishes is no easy feat, but MoRoCo more than rises to the occasion. Not only are the chocolate inspirations mouth-wateringly tasty (if you don’t have a sweet tooth you will acquire one by the time you leave!), the staff is unbelievably knowledgeable and quick to point out the uniqueness of each tiny cacao inspired square. The stellar pairing of Head Chef Ryan Kowalyk and Pastry Chef & Chocolatier Iris Roteliuk, coupled with Terry Hughes’ vivacity, candor and expertise on all things that make a regular dining experience feel like a trip to the moon and back, completes the picture.
My dining experience began when two extremely pleasant servers - Sabrina and Scott –kicked off my taste buds by presenting me with a tray of delectable delights featuring three different types of macarons - lavender cassis laced with black currant purée, followed by pistachio and salted caramel. Scott had pre-warned me that the lavender
natural heat long after a conventional stove has cooled down.
I sit down in anticipation of round two and am elated by the assortment that is put together. This time the tray does not include cacao-infused morsels, rather it highlights some of the other dishes that diners can expect at MoRoCo. The tasting platter included Mushroom & Swiss Samosas, featuring wild and field mushrooms wrapped in phyllo with roasted pepper sauce and fine herbs; Braised Lamb Tacos with zucchini, tomato, red pepper and eggplant; Boucheées Caprese coupled with buffalo mozzarella, pesto, tomato and balsamic reduction; Chicken Dumpling Croquettes filled with apple, ginger, garlic, scallion and julienne slaw with a lightly spiced Asian dip and Salade Niçoise featuring crispy quail egg and ahi tuna tataki. These light bites were every bit as tasteful as their cacao-inspired predecessors.
Just when I thought there was no room for anything more, the friendly staff brought out the showstopper – a dessert inspired parting tray that included House Brownies made with peanut butter and caramel; Spring Rolls with warm dark chocolate, banana and two dipping sauces; MoRoCo Burger and Fries featuring an all mousse chocolate patty coupled with lemon jelly on a poppy-seed bun and served with cookie fries and raspberry ketchup sauce; and Kiss-Me-Kake, a moist dark chocolate cake served with cream cheese frosting.
cassis would ultimately win my heart and on this he was correct. All three macarons (which resemble mini-éclairs) were reminiscent of the very best that I had tried in Venice a few years back (macarons being a pastry which traces its origins to the Venetian tradition of Mardi Gras).
My next tasting platter was designed to showcase the art of the truffle and included square Valrhona chocolate truffles such as Pumpkin Spice infused with dark milk chocolate and a hint of pumpkin pie flavour; Tie-Me-Up, featuring tangy basil, lemongrass and mint infusion combined with a creamy white chocolate base; Flirt, a tangy raspberry truffle with a citrus flavor and the C4, a liquid-salted caramel truffle ball which relies on the heat of the mouth to make the salt burst with flavour, and which has quickly become a favourite among MoRoCo’s regular’s and first-timers. This first cacao-inspired round went down smoothly with a well-paired glass of Merlot Cap (Dog Ridge 2009), a sweet, full-bodied wine which doesn’t overpower and leaves the palate clean after each dose of chocolate.
A quick trip to the kitchen gives me a chance to loosen my taste buds and provides a glimpse of Pastry Chef Roteliuk honing her craft by preparing platters of truffles and other miniature delights while Terry reveals the technique behind my molten chocolate experience. I learn that the preparation of the chocolate relies on a method called ‘induction cooking’, which is perfect because it retains
In addition to its full dinner menu, MoRoCo also offers fondues, afternoon high-tea and brunch, and caters weddings, corporate and special events. It also features a boutique on the premise as well as a stunning lounge area which is by far the most beautifully decorated room in Toronto I have ever laid eyes on.
Would I return? The answer is “oui, oui, oui” and I urge all my fellow gourmands and cacao-craving followers to do the same!
99 Yorkville Street