Monday, August 29, 2016

PHOTO TOUR: Orlando's Steampunk Chocolate Factory, Pt 2!

I know you've been waiting with bated breath for the final half of my photo tour, guys, so let's dive right back in!


Although you have seen part one, yes? EXCELLENT.

In that case, let's move on to the main dining area.

As you're led past the reception desk you'll pass under these stunning light fixtures:


The glass domes are filled with hundreds of strands of fiber optics, which give an oh-so-subtle twinkle that refuses to show on video, but is simply magical. I can't wait to go back at night to see them glow.

Don't be too dazzled, though, or you'll miss the chocolate laboratory on the right, complete with viewing window:

 No one was working in there at the time, but they have a few pretties like this on display.

Ahhh, but now the main attraction: the dining room. 


It's warm and sparkly and all industrial-tinged elegance back here. The glow of those Edison bulbs will wreak havoc on your photos, but the reflections off all the glass and brass is just breath-taking.


I never did find out what that sparkly gold stuff on the back wall is. Velvet? Silk? Star dust? Unicorn dander? Whatever it is, me likey.

These booths are separated by metal gridwork and enormous clear panes of glass, which help dampen noise and catch cool reflections:


 Plus check out that light!



The far right and left walls have large animated "windows" looking into the rest of the factory. These are really video screens showing billowing steam and turning gears, and their cool blue-and-purple tones look beautiful with all the warm golds in the room.

More star dust and black leather tufting:

::drool::
You can just see the wire gridwork over the sconce globe there. Love those.

Those wooden chairs were the only design misstep I spotted in the whole emporium. They stick out like sore thumbs next to the elegant tufted couches - more mid-century modern than Victorian - so I can't help but wonder if they're temporary stand-ins until the grand opening this Fall. If not that's a head-scratcher, but let's be honest, it's the minorest of minor quibbles.

The downstairs bar, back under the stairs by the entry:

And wait'll you see the upstairs bar.

(Patience. Just keep scrolling!)

A peek up at the second floor, which wraps around and overlooks the entire dining room:


Remember how I said last time we were the first people seated that day? Well, other diners were being led in just moments after us, so I was running around like a madwoman getting these shots.

By the time I returned to our booth, John was already chatting with our server, Tasha.


The wait staff again has a mix of steamy accessories, though they all have the COOLEST leather hip holsters for their tablets.
You can't see it here - and I'm kicking myself for not getting a close up - but those holsters are dreamy. Huge and unwieldy (note Tasha's two belts), but dreamy. 

Side note: we were Tasha's first customers ever. And she was the best! Say hi for me if you see her, k?

As if the dining room wasn't enough of an attraction, you ALSO get to meet your two character hosts: Dr. Penelope Toothsome, and her robot manservant Jacques:


These two usually make separate rounds, though we did spot them interacting together later upstairs. Jacques' voice box is a little muffled, but you can understand him fine in person. 

When Jacques saw John and I with our cameras out he started walking in ultra-slow motion, which is why we're both laughing when this video starts:


Sorry for the abrupt transition between the two clips. In my defense, I have no idea what I'm doing.

Now a clearer look at Jacques:
His mechanical details are gorgeous, right down to the barely visible neck. I mean, look at those arms! His gloves and heavy work apron appear to be real leather, and there are tools tucked into the pockets - see the wrench?

The Toothsome designers really did their homework, and commissioned many of these pieces from independent artisans. Jacques hat, for example, is by The Blonde Swan, and while I can't tell you who made Jacques - because I'm not sure I'm allowed - rest assured he is the work of some extremely talented, extremely geeky individuals who absolutely deserved this good turn.

Now, before I take you upstairs, who's hungry?

The menu is a leather bound, hardback book. Hnnnng.

Did I take a picture of almost every page inside? Yes, yes I did. But I'll spare you for now. Let's skip right to what we ordered:

These are all appetizers: Chocolate Almond Bread with Salted Caramel Butter, Wild Mushroom Cassoulet, and Pork Belly Sliders with Chocolate-Dipped Bacon.

Let's start with the out-of-the-park home run: the Mushroom Cassoulet. This blend of mushrooms, herbs, cream, and "parmesan truffle crust au gratin" is heaven in a dish, and for a while there I thought I'd have to leave John alone with it. It is super rich, so a little goes a long way - but you still won't want to share.

The sliders were also good, though John discovered he doesn't like chocolate-covered bacon - who knew? The pretzel buns are the star, but the pork and arugula are still tasty.

The starter I had the highest hopes for, the chocolate almond bread, fell sadly flat, and I dearly hope they fix it soon. It was very dry and not at all sweet, except for the rare tiny piece of chocolate baked in. The butter was also not sweet, and had no caramel flavoring I could detect.

But here's the thing, you guys: the bread was $2.95. And the subtle cocoa flavor grew on me. So I am NOT complaining - just hoping Toothsome fixes the dryness issue, and tweaks that butter.

In fact, all of the prices here are surprisingly reasonable. We ordered 4 appetizers (there was also a French Onion soup I forgot to photograph), one entree, and two desserts, and our total bill was around $70. At a theme park restaurant. Let the dancing in the streets... BEGIN.

For our entree we ordered the Duck Flatbread, because it was the funkiest thing on the menu, and I love funky. :D This mix of duck, cherries, and roasted brussel sprouts (yes, really), took several bites to get used to, but once I did, oh man. HEAVEN. Even the crunchy flatbread dough was delicious. So good. And less than $12!

If some of those portions seem small to you, trust me, it's only in compensation for the ENORMITY of dessert:

Their banana split has an entire slice of banana cream pie in it, PLUS about two chocolate bars' worth of chocolate bark.

It's hard to critique a banana split, but I will say while the pie was a tasty addition (I love banana everything), the chocolate bars were too big and too frozen to eat, which was a shame. I was half-tempted to wrap them in a napkin and take 'em home with me.

To get some more extreme chocolate, we also ordered the Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding:

The standout here - shockingly enough - was the White Chocolate ice cream on the side, served on a bed of cinnamon and cocoa. WOW SO GOOD. The bread pudding itself fell short on its promise of "triple chocolate," though, as there was hardly any chocolate in it. I'd love to see them add a rich chocolate sauce on top, which would also help with the fact that it was a bit dry.

In conclusion, remember that Toothsome is still in previews, and is working out the kinks in preparation for their official grand opening. But even if this meal was the final rehearsed product, it still blows most other theme park fare out of the water. (Lookin' at you, Skipper's Canteen.)

K, time to head upstairs and walk off some of that dessert!

There's a central catwalk that bisects the top floor.


Where even the menu carts are lovely:


Follow the wall along to the left and you'll discover the enormous upstairs bar:


There is so much light streaming in from the wall of windows that it's literally dazzling.



Check out the pattern on this brick wall:
And more perfect theming:

Speaking of theming, gotta throw in a quick side note on the music of Toothsome: it's so fantastic I had John Shazam 3 different songs on his phone, because it is the grooviest blend of great dance beats and old-timey brass and jazz riffs. Here are the three we grabbed:

Via Con Me, by the Swingrowers
The Lantern, by Beats Antique
Minnie The Moocher, by Cirque du Steampunk
 (All links to Youtube, where you can listen to the full songs.)

I'mma be buying some new albums in the future, I can feel it.

K, side note over.

There's much more to discover upstairs, though: follow the bar to the other end of the building, and you'll discover Dr. Toothsome's lab, carefully gated off from the dining area:

You can't walk in here, sadly; I'm sticking my camera through the gate for this shot.

See the grate on the left? Here John's holding my camera OVER the bars.

Look closely, and you'll see that's the top of the spiral staircase from the gift shop below!

I'd love to get in close to see all those treasure on the shelves. Maybe next time I'll bring a better zoom lens. In the meantime, here's Dr. Toothsome's desk in the opposite corner:


And we're STILL not done. Retrace your steps to the other side of the bar, and you'll see a small map-lined hallway leading to a semi-private dining room:

These shelves are packed with more art sculptures and treasures:






And because I had to, here's a quick peek at the bathroom:

Nothing too spectacular, but still some great light fixtures and mirror accents.

While wandering I spotted Dr. Toothsome and Jacques entertaining some upstairs guests:

You can see through to the bar, and I kind of like this backlit, half-silhouette look.


Now let's head back outside - before Security kicks us out - and marvel again at that stunning exterior:





I'm already planning out all the goodies I want to try NEXT time, like the Key Lime Pie Milkshake and the "May Contain Nuts" Sundae.

In fact, here, I'll show you the final Desserts pages from the menu, so you can plan/drool with me:

(click to embiggen)


And one final, lingering look, before your hubby pries your fingers from the door frames...



We'll be back, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Oh yes. WE WILL BE BACK.

Soooooon.

Hope you guys enjoyed the tour!

24 comments:

  1. After Part 1 of the review I decided this is where I want to celebrate my college graduation this fall (instead of a Disney restaurant as I had originally planned). Let's hope I can get a reservation!

    My only complaint... a banana on a banana split should be split. It's kind of in the name. They could still do the gorgeous chocolate drizzle after it has been cut.

    I'm reading reviews that say none of the desserts are as decadent as they appear. I'm gonna go ahead and give it a shot anyway.

    Oh, and Happy Anniversary to you and jon!!!

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  2. You mean you DIDN'T wrap the chocolate bars and take them with you? And you call yourself a chocolate fan *smh*

    Kidding (kind of) - I'm sure they'll tweek those menus a little bit & they'll soon match the awesomeness that is the interior decoration :)

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  3. Thank you so much for another one of your in depth and wonderful reviews! Happy anniversary to you both! Many many more!

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  4. Happy 18th, guys!

    LOVED this photo tour. Thank you so much!

    KW

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  5. Jen! You have found my birthday celebration spot! I am going here to celebrate my 35th Birthday and would LOVE for you and John to celebrate with us! I love you both, and can't wait to see what comes out of that AWESOME brain of yours!

    Cecilia

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  6. I am headed to Orlando in March...this is now on my list!

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  7. Happy anniversary, you crazy kids. Thanks for the heads up on where we're taking you guys to dinner next time we're in town. Looks amazing!

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  8. This. Is Amazing. Looking forward to a Key Lime Pie Milkshake to see if I should get one ... all to myself

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  9. Thanks for the tour! I gotta make my way there soon!

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  10. Happy anniversary! And thanks for another magnificent installment of Jen's Vicarious Tours. Definitely my favorite yet. I'd really love to see the Emporium in person (and taste the desserts, of course!)

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  11. Ok, so now I have to go to Orlando. Yep, I have to do this.

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  12. "There is so much light STEAMING in from the wall of windows that it's literally dazzling." Was that intentional, or did the steaminess of it all infiltrate your prose? :D ~TAL

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    1. Bahaha! Now I almost don't want to fix it! ...but I guess I will. Thanks. ;)

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  13. So many desserts, so little time to eat them all. Guess it is time to start saving for a trip to Orlando & eat at the Emporium. Thanks for sharing and tempting me!

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  14. Ah Jen. I've had a long day and it seems like things are going more wrong than right, and then you brighten my day with the concept of "unicorn dander." Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  15. Wonderful posts! I wish I could skip a day of Disney to visit universal studios next week. I think those look like gold crush velvet curtains to me (sorry if that ruins the magic of them).

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  16. I love those clockwork birds at their nest with the clockwork eggs! Also love that the menu carts look just like library carts of books! Would love to go here someday. Do we get to see the other pages of the menu?
    Amy LD

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  17. You should have put the music links at the top, so we could listen to the music as we swooned over your post! Great job, so jealous!!

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  18. Unicorn dander...I almost spit water all over my computer laughing!
    What an amazing tour! Thank you Jen!

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  19. Also, a great band that has a similar sound to that Swingrowers song is Paris Combo. I highly recommend looking them up on YouTube. :)

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  20. Happy anniversary, Jen and John!

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  21. Before I melt into a green-with-envy quivering pile of goo at the amazing awesomeness that is this and the last post, I just have to say thank you for sharing your experience with us and giving me a new goal in life: getting to that place and trying ALL THE DESSERTS!!

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  22. If you like that kind of music, check out the artists 11 Acorn Lane and Caravan Palace. I've heard the genre called electro swing. :D

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  23. Oh man. These posts make me miss living in Orlando so much! I NEED to come back soon to experience this! And totally gonna hang out at that bar! Gorgeous!

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