I was in New Hampshire recently and I had to eat. These things happen. So, I searched for a coffee bar (well, we did) and found an excellent one called Cafe La Reine. (At some point I got it that Manchester, NH is also known as queen city so the names of various sandwiches -- including the Freddy Mercury -- made sense to me! And I have to admit ti: the coffee was swell).
On our first visit (and there were many), we were distracted by a place next door. The place: The Dancing Lion. No place is perfect. But, this (and the Cafe La reine) is near perfection. They truly make chocolate that is beautiful, that is incredibly tasty, and that is available as drink, eat, and be merry.
Several things are crucial to this valuation as an amazing place. First: the display of chocolates includes chocolate boxes. Do not think those heavy waxy ones one can buy in a supermarket. Think light, and think beautifully painted. One was so amazing I was not persuaded it was chocolate even though I was repeatedly told it was. In addition, the display included a face molded from chocolate and some bits that were based on very old molds for weddings. (The latter a bit too heterosexual but hey, nothing is, as I say, perfect.) Second: On our arrival there were two delightful dogs visiting (both poodles). Any place that is that open seems to me to be improved.
But there are two more reasons to be positive. The chocolate espresso drinks -- iced -- are amazing. They are made with drinking chocolate and espresso. And thus, there is NO dairy. There was a certain tartness to the chocolate, which meant the drinks were not overwhelmingly sweet in the face of hot days. And, the chocolates themselves - ranging from tasting squares to small truffles -- were inventive, and amazingly different from one another. The range of chocolates being used was itself an education. And, the "kitchen sink" brownie -- gluten free -- was . . . I become redundant.
I should also say that on our initial visit, the owner told us a lot (and I mean a lot) about the chocolates as well as advising us on various places to eat and visit in Manchester. We owe him a bit of thanks for that -- but his peers owe him even more.
Down sides? Yes, there are two. One is that this is most definitely not a fast service place. This is in part because the folks are very very chatty and because they take their time. This is a good thing, but also a problematic thing, on occasion. Second: this place is expensive. We dropped about $65 on our first visit. (Note, it was not our last.) Was it worth it? Yes. But, if I were a local, I would buy one piece of chocolate at a time.
Where are these places? Manchester, NH on Elm Street. Check them out if you are there!