«Шоколадница» entered Almaty market in the end of 2011. Prior entering Almaty this café chain was rapidly growing in other countries of CIS and became rather popular. Since it is usually rather crowded at this place, and it grows fast in our city, we can definitely say that many people of our city liked it too. Today there was chosen «Шоколадница» in Esentai Mall for evaluation under the score table of DiningSmart.
Café is located on 4th floor in best part of the mall. Most tables were along the large windows which made it look better since certainly it was nice to enjoy the food and mountains view. Interior was made in classic style of coffee houses – creme and brown colors with usage of wood materials. Shokoladnica is being separated from the general hall. Trying to create the pleasant atmosphere, the designer thought of podium made out of wood cover, but did not think of wheel chair ramp. There is no any sign that there is a stair ahead, and dimmed light makes this stair even less noticeable. While choosing the table you have a risk to fall over it, what periodically guests do. Plus stairs prevent the comfortable entrance for guests on wheelchair and disabled.
Tables in café are meant for 2-4 persons and put too close to each other. Since double tables are near sofa, they are most popular there. Though if to look at café as to the joy and dining place for a group of more than 3-4 people, there is a risk to get no free place. First impression will be ruined. Small tables for 2 do not attract guests; they cannot be joined without preventing other people to walk along. Administrators shall be more attentive meeting guests and thinking where to seat them. The pleasant service begins only after you sit at the table. Before, guests shall take care of them themselves, since waiters were careless.
The big minus for café is absence of its own restroom. The restroom is general for everyone on the floor of the mall. The hall is overall clean, but dirty artificial flowers make it look unattractive. There are some comments on ergonomics of the seating structure. Sofas’ height is not compatible with the height of the tables. Among pluses is that there is a good air conditioning of the café, it is not hot and not cold there. Besides, it is not noisy, and comfortable to talk. The usage of Shokoladnica branded dishes gives the coffee house the recognizable look.
As it was mentioned the service does not start from the entrance. Probably due to lack of staff Alina, the waiter, did not have time to serve us. As a result the order was taken by intern Zhanara. Since she could not answer a single question on menu, Alina replaced her apologizing for the colleague. The order on bar was - cappuccino standard, orange fresh and winter mochito which we waited for 20 minutes. Kitchen order – Caesar salad, pancake cake with salmon, pasta with mushrooms, “Rimskaya ohota” salad - we waited for 40 minutes. Waiters were like guerillas, answered the questions reluctantly, and were hiding behind the sales station. Out of minuses it could mentioned that girls really did not know the order of serving the dishes, how long each order should be waited for, and what is in the menu. However, they were nice and pleasant to talk with. Unfortunately, it was noticed that after guests were leaving many tables were left with dirty dishes for quite a long time which also ruined the impression of the café.
It included a variety and was bright.
Almost under each dish there was a description and photos which made the choice easier.
There were presented alcohol, nonalcoholic, coffee drinks, various deserts, several types of salad and appetizers in the menu.
There was pasta and pizza out of hot meals.
Some dishes were indicated with stars, but what it stood for – could not be found in menu. Neither waiters nor administrator also did not know it. There was no specific separation of dishes for vegetarians or with minimum calories. Waiters also did not know such information. The amount of service fee was not indicated, but was included in total bill.
Even though coffee house positions itself as an expert in coffee and chocolate drinks, its presentation was rather average.
Either the fat level of milk or dominance of robusta in coffee made the coffee taste weak. Knowledge of coffee art would be useful, indeed. Though the hot chocolate was very tasty, and it was nice that the water and spoon for a drink were not forgotten. Mochito and hot wine punch presentation was classical. Plus waiters did not ignore the request to serve fresh squeezed juice of warm temperature.
There were chosen two salads – classical Ceasar salad with chicken and Rimskaya Ohota salad.
Even though the first salad is positioned as a classical thing of the Italian cuisine, there was certainly a lack of anchovy. Other ingredients were fresh and tasty, which could not be said about the meat in a second salad which certainly was left in a water and fridge for not a one day. Thus the impression about Rimskaya ohota salad was not good.
Pasta with mushrooms and creamy sauce was certainly a good menu choice. Farfalle al dente did not have any negative comments, however, the hot meal was served already cold.
The dish certainly lacked some better presentation which could add some sophistication to it. Especially when the price of the dish was higher than the average. The pancake cake with salmon was very tasty and tender.
Speaking about deserts, the strawberry soufflé was very tasty, but the Belgian waffle was not eatable at all. The waffle was not defrosted before serving at all, and the mixture out of which it was made could be much better. It is recommended to change the recipe of such a good hot desert.