The first thing one notices when walking into ChocolaTree are shelves of raw products that are made on the spot, such as crackers, kale chips and nori snacks. I thought that the decor looked inviting and warm. I was particularly drawn to the ginormous display of chocolates - apparently their specialty - but more on that later.
We started off with a Carrot Ginger Soup made with carrots, avocado, coconut and ginger which was tasty. It came with Pumpkin Chia Crackers that I thought was an interesting addition. They were also quite good.
Next came our entrees...We shared a Falafel Platter: Sprouted Falafel Balls, tomato, cucumber (or in this case zucchini), red onion and mixed greens, with a side of Cream Garlic Dill Dip, Veggie Hummus and their famous Onion Bread.
While it sounded mighty good, I was rather disappointed with this dish (to put it mildly). For one thing, the advertised mixed greens didn't make it onto the plate and were replaced by a teeny bit of sprouts. The real deal breaker, however, was that a copious amount of olive oil had been poured over almost everything! The Falafel Balls were soaked with it and both the Dip and the Hummus had a huge ring of oil (and I'm talking about easily 1 tablespoon per bowl!) I did my best to soak the oil away with a paper towel; the kind of thing I expect to do at a junk food place, not a raw restaurant. When I later suggested that they omit the oil the waitress rather defensively replied that "it's the way falafels are traditionally served." Hum, interesting as it hasn't been my experience during my SAD days and it certainly wasn't how Omar of Rawtopia, who is Lebanese by the way, served his. *shrugs*
Eeew is all I'm gonna say!
The Dip and Hummus were ok, although I couldn't really get myself to enjoy them, trying to sneak spoonfuls around the pools of oil. The Balls were so intensely flavored that I only reluctantly ate mine. I was certainly glad that I was sharing the plate with Don and didn't have to eat the whole thing by myself!
We also ordered a Veggie Sandwich: Creamy Garlic Herb Pate, Tomato, Avo, Red Onion, Sprouts & Spring Greens on a Onion Flat Bread. The bread was tasty and pliable which made for a good sandwich. However I found again the flavors overwhelming and by the time I finished my half I was glad there wasn't any more.
A sign at the entrance proclaimed that they are famous for their raw desserts, so that sounded a little more promising. Their display was quite varied and rather impressive: Pecan Pie, Coconut Pie, German Chocolate Cake... We went for the Tiramisu which I thought was very good. It had some kind of almond flavored cake base, a light Irish moss cream and some kind of other topping. I just wished that the coffee flavor had been more pronounced since it's one of the distinctive features of traditional tiramisu. It came drizzled with a young coconut cream which looked uncannily like the SAD white cream I used to pipe on top of bake-your-own Pillsbury's Apple Turnovers. (Yah, yah, I know... Not a happy thought! lol)
On the waitress' suggestion we also had a (gigantic!) piece of Chocolate Ganache. The texture was very firm and I was surprised to later discover that it only contained coconut oil and no cacao butter. The flavor would have been good except that I could detect a rancid aftertaste (probably from the coconut oil) which sorta ruined the experience.
Believe it or not, neither Don nor I could finish our desserts (that's something almost unheard of! lol) and had them wrapped up to go. We also chose a couple of chocolates from their very large selection. Someone told me that they are the biggest importer of raw cacao in the US and I can believe it! I have to say though that their choccies are ridiculously expensive: $2 for the teeny small ones and $3 for the slightly larger cups. Ouch!
I would have liked to try a few but in keeping with our budget we just took a couple. After much debating we decided on one made with crystal manna and one with rose essential oil. We also took them along to enjoy later. I guess there's no easy way to say this but we weren't impressed with them AT ALL. While they looked beautiful and they've certainly got the tempering process down pat (as they held well at room temperature like traditional chocolates), the flavors were rather blah and unbalanced. I thought that they overdid the rose essence which was way too overpowering. Not what you'd expect from master chocolatiers.
While on the topic of their chocolates I guess I should also mention that when we visited Jozzie in Oregon she shared with us some L.O.V.E. cups that ChocolaTree sells via The Raw Food World. We hadn't been swooned by these either; in fact, the pecans on top of one of them were clearly rancid. (Someone local confirmed that rancid nuts has indeed been an issue with their food.)
And lastly, before we left we bought a package of their Curry Wraps as we're starting to run seriously low on cracker supplies. While these were pliable they tasted as though someone had dropped the bottle of curry powder into the mixture; a very strong yet unrefined flavor. Of course that could have been just that particular batch I suppose...
In hindsight I see that our intuition had been right not to eat at ChocolaTree the first time. With all the restaurants that have had to close down in this time of economic struggle, it is a mystery to me that a place like that can stay in business. I'm also surprised that there is a demand for their products and chocolates locally and beyond. Granted that we've sampled a very small amount of the food they prepare, but virtually none of the dozen items or so we tried wowed us. Or perhaps it's just that our taste buds are very much misaligned? In any case, we're sorry we have to say that we certainly won't be eating there again!