What better way to ward off the winter blues and get into the Valentine’s Day spirit than attending an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet?
In honor of their 25th Chocolate Bar Season, Café Fleuri, located at The Langham, Boston, is celebrating this milestone with “Decades of Decadence,” a chocolate buffet featuring a vast variety of chocolate lover’s favorite items from the bar’s beginning.
Pastry chef Ryan Pike, who has been at Café Fleuri for about six years, said the bar has put the café on the map. Offering a buffet of all-you-can-eat chocolate desserts every Saturday from September to June, the bar is every chocolate lover’s dream.
“We do about 100 different items, ranging from really rich bitter dark chocolate all the way to white chocolate,” Pike said.
Executive chef Mark Sapienza, who has been at Café Fleuri for about 15 years, said that the idea for the bar came in the 80s from chef Raymond Ost. Originally, the idea of a chocolate bar on Saturdays was a spinoff of French tradition that was quickly embraced by the city.
“There’s something in France that they do on Saturday afternoons, where normally parents would feed their children bread and chocolate after school on Saturdays. That was [Ost’s] idea, that on Saturday afternoons the café would have bread and chocolate. It was an idea that filled the void in the financial district.”
Sapienza said that since the bar’s inauguration in the 80s, every year the team of chefs and managers would develop a theme to keep the desserts new and fresh. He said that themes have ranged from chocolate dishes around the world to incorporating the five elements of wood, metal, water, fire, and wind to putting on a “Chocolate Trail” that offered treats inspired by each of Boston’s neighborhoods.
This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary, a variety of dishes are offered in honor of each decade. Pike said that they chose favorites from the past, which he feels resonate with customers and adds a unique touch to the experience.
“I try to hit on the things that everyone can relate to,” Pike said. “Like things people grew up with. For example, the cupcakes with swirls on them: I decorate them so it brings them back to their childhood. People can relate to it and they really love it.”
Pike said participants can expect to see a wide variety of both traditional and classic treats, such as Mississippi Mud Pie, Boston Cream Pie, chocolate crème brulee, cheesecakes, cupcakes, and tarts. He said they are also dedicating a table to “future” chocolate, exploring new textures and flavors with a smoked chocolate cake, flexible lemon curd tart, and a chocolate caviar.
Regardless of people’s preferences, Sapienza said everyone is bound to find something they love. In addition to the featured desserts, there will also be a crepe station, homemade ice cream station, a cotton candy machine, and an oven constantly pumping out fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Sapienza said there will also be a variety of savory snacks to cut the sweetness.
“We put fresh potato chips, popcorn, salted almonds, pecans, and nuts. People can take a break from the chocolate, have some salt, and get ready to go back for more sweets,” Sapienza said. “We try to make sure there are things for everybody out there.”
Pike said that he loves having the opportunity to offer so many chocolate masterpieces to the public. He said that they continuously pour over the menu to keep it fresh, and that customers never know what they’ll get when they walk in the door.
“Come spend an afternoon indulging in chocolate from all around the world,” Pike said. “Take a weekend to come in and enjoy yourself.”
The bufett costs $42 for adults, $29 for children age 5-12 and children under age 4 are free.
“Decades of Decadence” will be taking place every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until June 28. Special decorations and items will be featured for Valentine’s Day. For more information or to book reservations, visit the café’s website.