I just realised I have no right to call myself a Melbourne hot chocolate connoisseur. I only just discovered Max Brenner, and what a revelation.
Max Brenner's South Melbourne cafe proclaims he is "creating a new chocolate culture". His website says: "Chocolate is not just about taste. It is a symbol of contradicting emotions and sensations." Hear, hear! Don't I know this when I furtively dive into my 85% dark mood enhancer many times in my roller-coaster toddler + infant filled days.
There is nine (!!!) hot chocolate variations to choose from, all served in signature Hug Mugs. I was paralysed with indecision being unused to such hot chocolate choice.
I finally opted for the Danish Toffee in an effort to try something new. That was before I spotted the Suckao. I went a bit mad and had both.
The hot chocolate: The Danish toffee added to the liquid chocolate packed some extra sweetness to the beverage. It was smooth, rich and warming. It was definitely enjoyable but thoroughly over-powered by my Suckao experience.
The Suckao was fiddly and a bit of a gimmick but I loved it anyway. It was a "create your own" hot chocolate. I was supplied with a little pile of dark chocolate bits (chosen from dark, milk or white), a tiny jug of milk, a metal straw with a shovel on the end, and a little pot bellied vessel akin to a oil burner. The tea light burning underneath warmed the milk and chocolate on top as I (and my little girl) added more with my shovel and then sucked up the liquid through the straw. It was only a shot of hot chocolate but I could decide the intensity and thus went all out throwing in the lot. Heaven.
The price: $6 for Hug Mugs servings. $6.50 for the Suckao.
The setting: The South Melbourne cafe was comfortable, spacious and tasteful but ultimately too bland for me. Melbourne is full of cafes of character and this one couldn't help but feel like a cookie cutout of a chain of stores.
Family friendly aspects: The cafe offered plenty of room, a cute babychino with Max's quality chocolate flung over it, and the toddler's involvement in my Sukao's creation was a hit.
Would I have another: Absolutely. We are a family obsessed, reliving the experience throughout the day. We'll be heading to the city Max Brenner locations in a hope to find an atmosphere with more character to match the holistic hot chocolate experience.