Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is a steampunk world of food and treats! But will it win our Editor over when he went for a meal?
Situated on the river that flows past universal Studios in Orlando is Universal City Walk. It can be accessed without a Universal ticket and is essentially Universal’s response to Disney Springs. There’s lots to see with shops, entertainment and restaurants.
Located next to Hard Rock Cafe is one of the newer establishments the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Built to a passing resemblance to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, the cream and brass coloured building sports chimney stacks rise up into the air. Gorgeous vintage lights line the path that leads to the revolving door.
On my visit there, I was lucky enough to bump into the Penelope character who owns the factory. Chatting to me in an entertaining Mary Poppins style British accent, she posed for photographs and then took me on a tour around the Emporium and Restaurant. The restaurant works on a first come, first serve basis. They don’t take reservations for tables. You turn up, give your name and party size at the reception desk. If the wait is long, you are free to leave and look around the rest of Universal City Walk by leaving a number for them to call you on. Alternatively, you can wait in the Emporium and take a look at everything they have to offer there. And there’s loads.
The restaurant is steampunk themed, which is why I visited and also why we’ve been reporting on it in Steampunk Journal since news of it’s development back in 2016. Walking through the door you’re faced with the reception which is slightly off centre to allow passage through to the dining area in the back. To the left you can see the chocolate being made and it doubles as an ice cream parlour. To the right is the store where they sell the chocolates they make as well as other items. I wasn’t surprised to see that they sell steampunk accessories. Interestingly though, I made two bad assumptions about the restaurant at this point:
First, I assumed that the hats would be thin, cheaply made tourist trap merchandise. I was wrong. They were very well made to the degree that I would happily wear them at an event. Not as good as a 100% wool Bowler that I usually sport, but good nevertheless.
Second, because of the quality and location of the establishment, I assumed they would be very expensive. They weren’t. They cost $24.95 for a Derby bowler. That’s around £19 in the UK which is less than I pay at events such as Asylum. There were also various types of fascinators along with mass produced goggles. They have a Candy Floss machine with dozens of flavours in jars under copper pipes that feed candy floss to dispensers. The chocolate and cakes are steampunk themed in their designs. We were also lucky to enjoy a Hallowe’en accent as we visited in late September, so the shelves were scattered with brass and copper pumpkins.
I bought a sample of chocolate (for review purposes obviously) and will be testing that at a later date. All this time, I was being escorted around by Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome (I found the use of both Professor and Doctor in her title hilarious) and she explained many parts of the operations of the restaurant. She took us to the window where we could view the milkshakes being made. This could arguably have been a clever marketing ploy as my two children were with me and so that cost me an additional amount for the milkshakes that they definitely must have please please please, dad pleeeease.
While being shown around, we were called for our table. I’ve read reviews where people were waiting anything up to an hour and a half, but we were no more than 20 minutes. The back of the restaurant where we dine is a dark metal, copper and Edison light bulb heaven. Large screens play animated videos of chocolate manufacturing as though you have a view of the factory floor.
While we were waiting, Penelope’s robot friend Jacques made an appearance. I managed to get a picture as he made his way round, then Penelope brought him over to meet me properly so I managed to get a picture of them together.
Being a group with two children in the mid evening, we decided against starters and went straight for the main course with the intention of leaving space for some dessert. I was more interested in trying the chocolate that they’re named for anyway.
We ordered two milkshakes – thank you very much Penelope. The 5 Times Chocolate and the Red Velvet cupcake. The 5 times Chocolate milkshake is as described. Comprised of five varieties of chocolate filled in the unique plastic cup that they’re served in. Topped with cream, strawberries and chocolate pieces. The Red Velvet is something else, though. It has an entire red velvet cupcake on the top which is covered in cream, sprinkles and a cherry. The cupcake sits on a bed of whipped cream and has to be eaten through to get to the milkshake which has another red velvet cupcake blended into the milk.
I ordered from the Burger page and decided on the Blue Plate. It was cooked to my preference of medium rare and consisted of a brioche bun with the half pound patty. Then it’s topped with a slice of meatloaf – which tasted more like steak, bacon, cheese, mashed potato, sweetcorn and Bordelaise sauce. It was like what I imagine having a Thanksgiving dinner is like. Except on a burger. The fries were a smaller portion than I expected but wasn’t too small. They were served in an attractive hammered copper pot.
The children have a special menu with every dish at $6.99 which I think is extremely reasonable. The waffles my eldest son ordered was half a waffle with only a couple of slices of bacon and maple syrup. While looking quite sparse, it was more than enough for him. My burger was $13.95 which, for the location of the restaurant, I thought was very well priced.
For dessert I went total chocolate. I ordered the Chocolate Mousse. It normally comes served in a Martini glass which I thought was a nice touch. But they hadn’t any glasses available, so they asked if it was OK to serve it in a different container. I approved and it came in a miniature cooking pot. I think the problem with the glass meant that I also received a larger portion, so it worked out well. For me, at least. Other desserts were served in equally interesting pots such as miniature copper saucepans. It all made for an entertaining and memorable evening.
Thoughts on the Meal
Initially when we sat down and the server came to take our drinks order, she left, then someone else came. We had to explain that it had already been taken. She brought our drinks maybe around 10 minutes later. That’s a little on the long side and this slow serving culture seemed to last the night. The meals seemed to take an age and was exacerbated by my slowly flagging children.
The milkshakes were rich, tasty and very well made. Although the price tag of them reflected this at around $13 each. I really enjoyed the burger I had. It was arguably the best burger I’ve ever eaten. The Borderlaise sauce alone had me wanting to order another burger. The chocolate was smooth, rich and moorish. They do make it very well.
For five of us to eat there – three adults and two children – with two milkshakes, a main meal each, two desserts and drinks, it totalled $115. I think that’s a really good price for the location, number of people and that it’s a proper restaurant. The milkshakes accounted for $26 of that, so it was a sub $100 meal which isn’t bad for 5 people. Considering inside Universal Studios, our lunch of one sandwich with a normal packet of Lays (Walkers equivalent) crisps and three plates of loaded crisps (chips) with drinks came to $74. I don’t think what we paid is bad for us leaving stuffed and groggy with food.
If and when I visit Orlando again, Toothsome will be on my list of places to eat and I think this time I’ll dress the part to make an evening of it. I only wish this time I’d bought a T-Shirt as well.