Cacao 70 is the quintessential French-Canadian café with a chocolatey twist. Entering Distillery District’s Cacao 70 is like walking off the cobbled streets of 19th century Toronto and into a cozy, coffee-fragranced French café.
The French are the resident experts on numerous things: how to dress, how to kiss, and how to bake bread. In Canada, some of the best French-Canadian exports—a la poutine, Céline Dion, and a certain prime minister—have become some of Canada’s most recognized national treasures. Cacao 70 is no different.
With its charming French-Canadian roots, and chocolate-infused menu made up of cacao beans from across the world, Cacao 70 is the Willy Wonka of Canadian cuisine and deserving of national acclaim.
Entering Distillery District’s Cacao 70 is like being transported from the cobbled streets of nineteenth century Toronto to a cozy, coffee-fragranced French café in Old Montreal. The pedestrian-friendly restaurant is one of twenty-one locations across Canada. The dozen or so lights cast a warm, summer glow on the red accented interior, creating such a contrast to the grey-tinged clouds outside, I almost forget it’s winter.
In fact, there are a series of juxtapositions; the collection of wooden tables and chairs and the open concept industrial kitchen; the casually-dressed server encouraging customers to choose their own seats and the smartly-attired cook in a traditional chef’s robe artfully dispensing chocolate onto a plate; and the menu of salty, savory food items and the pamphlet of sweet treats next to it.
The two menus force patrons to choose: salty or sweet? The drink menu and its robust offerings of hot and cold beverages begs the same question. The answer is to bring more friends and order both—or all.
The original concept for Cacao 70 was a chocolate drinking bar before it grew into a full restaurant. With the sheer number of items, including waffles, crepes, fondues, and dessert pizzas, along with their shareable portion sizes, the menu can easily be sampled by groups of three or four.
It took several minutes, a couple check-ins from our server, and a round of mimosas and hot chocolate with marshmallows to decide what to get. But, on a lazy Monday morning, we decided on three dishes that were mostly salty and just a little sweet.
I found it difficult to find a salty brunch item that didn’t have pork in it, but I was impressed by the Feel Good Omelette ($13.75) and the stack of homefries, plate of fruit and melted chocolate it came with. The After Party Waffle ($13.50) and pièce de résistance, covered in layers of whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate, was thick in size but oh, so fluffy and the Roasted Vegetable Wrap ($9.75) was equal parts zucchini, basil pesto, and savory goodness.
It would only seem natural to finish a meal with a chocolatey treat. But, when the entire course was a decadent sampling of milk, white, and dark chocolate in melted, shaved, and crunchy chocolate form, we concluded that dessert would be overkill. However, taking a slice of the Triple Chocolate Cake for later is a fair compromise, non?