Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Philadelphia Story, Part 2 of 2: This Ain't No Starbucks

When I got to Philadelphia, I was dragging a little from having only 4 hours of sleep from the night before (thank you for an epic evening EJ, EW, and company!) and I needed a pick-me-up. I stopped into what I thought would be some nothing little coffee place where I’d get some rando coffee in a dumb little plastic cup with more ice than caffeinated beverage. Instead, I wound up at RIM Café, a French Chocolate and Espresso Bar in the heart of South Philly’s Italian Market. I didn’t know that when I ordered.

“Do you make iced coffees?” I asked the guy behind the counter.

“Of course!,” he smiled. “The best in the city.”

I didn’t think an iced coffee could be good or not good, but then again I was only a novice coffee drinker.

“Okay,” I said. “Sounds good!”

“Our iced cappuccinos are better, though. How ‘bout one of those?”

“Go for it,” I said. I was feeling adventurous.

The guy, Spyro, disappeared into the kitchen. I waited for what I thought was going to be some plastic cup filled ice cubes and foam, but Spyro returned with a frosty silver tumbler and what might’ve been a tall beer glass.

He placed the glass in the center of a lazy susan covered in shavings of some kind, spun the susan and began pouring. A thick, creamy, foamy tan liquid spilled from the tumbler and practically danced into the glass. This ain’t no Starbucks, kiddo.


But it wasn’t over yet.

“How bout some chocolate?” Spyro said. “We make it ourselves.”

Truth be told, I’m not much of a chocolate person. I like a piece now and then, but too much makes me thirsty and sometimes I really just like a gummi worm if I’m going to have candy at all. The lure of homemade chocolate, however, was too strong.

“Okay, sure, go nuts.” That’s all I had to say.

With another spin of the lazy susan, peanut butter chocolate was shaved into my glass. Then truffle chocolate. Then chocolate covered parmesan cheese. Then I think three or four other chocolates I can’t remember right now. And then,“You gotta let me do this,” Spyro said.

Before I could say anything, out came a pot of chocolate caramel sauce and a spoon. The lazy susan was spinning again, making the chocolate into a beautiful pattern that rested on the foam and on the outside of the glass.

And it was all delicious. Cold because of the cappuccino, sweet but not too sweet on their own. I have never so actively chewed a beverage before, even nibbling on the outside of the glass where the chocolate sauce had solidified.

What was this place? RIM Café was opened by Rene when he moved from Nice, France to Philadelphia in 2006. The actual location used to be a butcher shop, but Rene made it into a comfy little espresso bar (LavAzza espresso only), complete with actual bar seating. Spyro is his business partner, and he makes a mean ice cappuccino.

RIM is also known for the best hot chocolate in the city and a drink called The Volcano. I don’t know what’s in it, but I know it involves creamy, foamy chocolate literally spilling out of a glass. My Aunt Adrienne is a known chocoholic, and somewhere her mouth is watering and she doesn’t know why.

I have a feeling RIM Café is the kind of place people go once by accident but come back as regulars forever. I know when I’m in Philadelphia again I’m dragging my friends there. Not that I’d have to. I’m sure The Volcano is temptation enough.

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