150 Errol St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
|Opening hours||Tue-Sun 9am-5pm|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9328 1386|
In the dead of winter, chilled to the core, there are two things that come to mind. One, get warm. Two, get elsewhere. Mork's high-concept hot chocolates manage to achieve both with one silky sip. The cafe is a shopfront for a wholesale business which supplies 150 cafes around town with ethically sourced drinking chocolate of various milky and inky-dark hues. They apply geeky next-wave coffee principles to chocolate and Melbourne is the richer for it.
Their stuff is delicious wherever you have it but it's worth coming to home ground to see just how far hot choc can take you. The cafe is small, calm and pristine and you'll perch on stools. Most seating is at a communal table, all the better to hear the oohs and aahs of your fellow chocoholics.
Their most famous drink is the Campfire hot chocolate. It has broken the internet a couple of times, once prompting some Buzzfeed executives to jump on a plane from California to experience the fuss for themselves. I'd say it's worth the trans-Pacific palaver.
To make it, wood smoke is trapped in an upturned glass and served with a torched marshmallow, a jug of dark, warm chocolate and a pinch of glistening charcoal salt. It's left to the diner to upturn the glass, inhale the smoky wafts, sip on the drink and slip into reverie. Even if you've never been camping, never sat around an open fire, never had your fingers agonisingly defrost in ski gloves made from an old shower curtain (Oh, is that just me? Thanks, mum!), you'll feel mistily nostalgic and entirely comforted.
There's also a new Australian blend that includes strawberry gum, anise myrtle, lilly pilly and lemon myrtle. It's citric and bright, lifted and layered, and is one of the more successful contemporary uses of native Australian flavours I've encountered. I love the idea of sipping a drink in cobble-stoned and terraced North Melbourne and being transported to the Australian bush. You can almost hear the birds.
Along similar lines, the Forager hot chocolate is served in a cup that's shaped like a gumnut, alongside a spray of gum leaves and a spritz of forest floor perfume with notes of moss and wet leaves. It's immersive and fun, as theatrical as a restaurant like the Fat Duck, but just $10.
It isn't just drink. The pastry counter has come along in delicious bounds this year, boosted by a slew of fine-dining talent in the development kitchen.
Signature mini-bundt cakes include a chocolate, olive oil and oat milk cake – it's vegan but you'd only care if you're vegan too. Otherwise, all you need to know is that it's very, very good.
Native spices also show up in the cake cabinet: a caramel tart is sparked up with wattleseed crumb, and pepperberry ganache nestles within the hazelnut bundt.
There's also a twice-baked chocolate cake with a dense under layer and a mousse-like upper. I doubt I'm the only person in Melbourne who tried to take some home for their family and ended up cleaning telltale crumbs from the car.
Oh well, at least I confirmed that winter chill can be banished with chocolate.
Rating: Four stars (out of five)