Not long ago, I wrote in a post about how much I hate entering shops/restaurants that is completely empty (I don’t like having the staff’s attention being all on me). Well, my trip to Lisa Lou’s is the perfect demonstration of the kind of “disaster” that can occur when I enter an empty shop, especially one that’s manned by EXTREMELY nice and friendly staff members. Let me explain.
I went to Lisa Lou’s because I heard that they had great cheesecakes and ice cream sandwiches. The shop was small, and completely empty when I arrived there over the weekend. I chose to enter. Big mistake.
The moment that I stepped in, I was greeted by a really friendly young lady, who offered me a piece of chocolate. I glanced at their front counter and saw that they had only chocolate available. Apparently, they weren’t offering any baked goods for the holidays; the only thing they had were chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE chocolate, but I have a poor palate and I honestly cannot tell the difference between a box from a gourmet artisinal shop (like Lisa Lou’s) and a much cheaper box of Lindt or Godiva, which I think are more than good enough to get the job done. I really wanted to just leave at this point. I couldn’t. The lady was too friendly. I couldn’t just bring myself to step out of the door without making a purchase. So, long story short, after quite a bit of frantic decision making, I ended up throwing my budget out of the window and purchased a box containing all 12 types of their popular layered chocolate bars for a whopping $50 (the bars are also sold separately for $5 a pop).
So, already feeling quite guilty about my spendings (I’m a graduate student, so $50 is quite a bit of money to me), I did the only thing that seemed logical when I returned home: I proceeded to eat all of the chocolate. Yup. That’s right. I ate ALL 12, $50-worth of chocolate in the span of <1 hour.
Lemon Caramel and Crispy Coconut Praline
I loved the coconut praline; it was really crispy and light, and had a really nice fragrance. The lemon caramel was thick and chewy, and definitely had a bright lemon flavour. Unfortunately, I personally didn’t really think that the flavours worked too well together with that of dark chocolate.
Mango and Passion Fruit Jelly with Crunchy Pistachio Praline
The mango and passion fruit flavours were realy bright, fragrant and tart. The pistachio praline lent a nice bit of crunch, although I can’t really detect any of the nuts.
Banana Caramel and Crispy Hazelnut Praline
I’m really impressed by the bright banana flavour that was in the caramel, which again was thick and chewy. The hazelnut praline was also light and crispy, and had a nice fragrance.
Bourbon Caramel, Marcona Almonds and Whipped Malt Ganache
The flavour of the bourbon is quite strong. Even though I generaly don’t like alcohol, I actually found myself really enjoying this bar. The bourbon lent a nice bit of bitterness that helped balance out the sweetness. The caramel was thick and chewy. The almonds of course provide a good crunch to contrast the soft fluffy malt.
Sour Cherry Jelly with Crunchy Pistachio Praline
This is somewhat similar to Ruth in terms of taste. I loved the cherry jelly: it was really fragrant and tart. While I can see the pieces of pistachio inside the bar, I couldn’t really detect much flavour from it. However, the praline did provide a good crunch that is always welcomed.
Coffee Cardamon Caramel, Roasted Pistachios and Shortbread
I would actually argue that this is more of a shortbread coated in chocolate than a chocolate with shortbread as the shortbread took up probably 75% of the bar. The shortbread was crispy yet tender, but a tad dry. The caramel was thick and chewy. My only complaint is that I couldn’t really detect much of the coffee flavour.
Strawberry and Raspberry Jelly with a Crunchy Peanut Praline
The strawberry and raspberry jelly had a very intense, tart flavour that paired well with the chocolate. The peanut lent a nice bit of crunch, as well as saltiness to contrast the overall sweet flavours. This is somewhat similar to Sue in terms of taste, although I did enjoy this one a bit more due to the peanuts.
Raspberry Caramel and Crispy Almond Praline
This bar took me quite off guard. When I first bit into it, I thought it was tangy, but then I got a bit of a strange, savoury taste as well. For the first couple of bites I was a bit put off by the flavours, but they did grow on me as I ate onwards. I really enjoyed the crunchy, fragrant almond praline. I’m a bit less sold on the raspberry caramel, which I felt didn’t really pair too well with the almond.
Caramel, Spiced Pecans and Crispy Wafers
I loved the textures of this bar: the wafers were nice and crispy, the caramel was thick and chewy, and the pecans lent a nice crunch. Initially, I did find the flavours of this bar to be a tad too subtle; they did grow on me however as I continued on eating, and I ended up really enjoying this.
Apple Ginger Caramel and Crispy Pumpkin Seed Praline
The bar had a good amount of spice and a slight bit of heat. The praline lent a nice crunch while the caramel was thick and gooey, with a bit of tang. While I can’t really find any glaring flaws with this bar, I wasn’t too crazy about the flavour (just a personal preference).
Blood Orange and Fig Jelly with Crunchy Almond Praline
The orange and fig jelly was soft and tangy, and paired well with the overall sweetness of the chocolate. The almond praline not only lent a nice crunchy texture, but also had a nice fragrance. The flavours are a bit too subtle however for my own personal liking.
Madagascar Vanilla Caramel, Pretzels, and Crunchy Peanut Butter
This was my favourite of the 12. It was a wonderful interplay of textures and flavours. The peanut butter and pretzels were definitely quite salty, and paired very well with the sweet caramel and chocolate. The pretzel lent a great crunchy, while the caramel was thick and gooey, and bursting with vanilla flavour.
By the time that I’ve finished the box, I was in complete agony, both physically and emotionally. I did not want to ever see another bar of chocolate, at least not for the next 5 hours. Honestly, I don’t know what I feel worse about: spending an unplanned $50 on chocolates or eating $50 worth of chocolates in one sitting. In all seriousness though, while I did enjoy all of the chocolate bars, I didn’t find myself completely blown away by any of them. I recognize and appreciate the quality and attention that Lisa Lou puts into the making of their products, and their staff members are obviously dangerously friendly and attentive. Unfortunately, the prices are just way out of my grad student’s budget range.
Service: N/A (although their staff members are super, dangerously nice)
Recommendations: Chocolate bars – if you’ve got money to spend (personal favourites of mine are Pete, Joe, Oscar, Marc, Frank and Ruth)