Arguably one of the happy consequences of H&M evicting the previous tenants of GPO is that Cacao Fine Chocolate has been transformed into Cacao Lab in Driver Lane.
Cacao Lab, which is down an alleyway from the revamped Strand arcade, is a much bigger space than the previous island stand. It’s pretty hard to miss – all sleekness and bright lights and with custom-made glass domes protecting inviting samples of Cacao’s dessert handiwork. Inside the space is decked out in white subway tiles and tanks of chocolate on the counter.
The focus is on new-age eclairs along with more seating and a more relaxing setting.
Why eclairs? Because, don’t ya know, eclairs are the new macarons are the new cupcakes are the new whatevers. And Cacao Lab’s eclairs are a work of art – you won’t be able to stop at just one!
I was invited to their opening launch and have been back several times to sample their sweet treats, one by one. It’s pretty hard to pick when you’re faced with a veritable runway of sugary goodness. I quit sugar? I think not.
The eclairs range from classic to kooky and are petite so you could have more than one if you wanted ($7.50 approx each).
The chocolate salted caramel is going to be a best-seller I think, although I have a personal affection for the Audreys. Critically, the choux pastry was just the right balance of buttery lightness, not dry or crunchy in any way.
Of the cakes we tried we found the shortcrust pastry to be more biscuit-y than buttery. This is a personal preference but we found the pastry cases on both the lemon meringue and strawberry tart too dry. They were gorgeous to look at though.
For chocoholics I recommend sharing a taster of chocolate ($10). Four test tubes filled with four different flavours of chocolate! Shoot them down or sip them slowly and then compare notes. My favourite? A rounded, warming, chocolate chilli.
Cacao Lab is a great space for relaxing after some heavy-duty shopping. They offer a breakfast and lunch menu too but make sure you leave room for dessert(s).