It’s a rainy day in Steveston Village and you’re dodging the deluge by ducking into as many stores as possible. But when you step into one brightly lit shop, the welcome is so warm and smiley that you decide to stay a little longer.
Sinfully the Best has been a local chocolate shop legend since opening in 2011. Legions of locals and visitors regularly drop by—and not just because it’s unusually generous with its free samples, from mini chocolate mousse cups to melt-in-your mouth caramels.
“We’re all very friendly here and as soon as you walk through the door, you’re greeted with a sample,” says twinkle-eyed General Manager Anita Schulz. “There’s no attempt at pressure sales—we just invite people to take their time and explore at their own pace.”
Sinfully the Best is a Steveston favourite. | Photo: John Lee
For a relatively small store on Chatham Street (there’s also a second shop near Fisherman’s Wharf), there’s a lot to peruse here—starting with a mouthwatering array of up to 70 bonbon varieties, temptingly displayed at the counter. Mostly filled with velvet-smooth ganache, these delectable house-made confections are peanut-free and made without preservatives or artificial flavours.
The bonbons include the bestselling white chocolate passion fruit hearts; popular triple decker squares layered with dark, milk and white ganache; and a cornucopia of additional varieties suffused with everything from pear to guava to mint and more. Unexpected flavours are also part of the mix, including chili and bacon.
“Personally, I really love the sub lime [lime gelee with white chocolate coconut ganache in dark chocolate],” says Schulz. “If there are ever any defective ones left over, I’m always available to take care of those!”
Discover bonbons galore at Sinfully the Best. | Photo: John Lee
While the bonbons come in a handy array of different-sized gift boxes, Sinfully the Best is also famous for its caramel creations. That includes delightfully soft caramel chews (the salted variety is our favourite) as well as chocolate caramel pretzels—crunchy pretzel sticks dipped in caramel and encased in chocolate. “We have one very loyal customer who orders 50 of these at a time,” says Schulz.
And while bonbon boxes fly out the door at Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, another highly creative item has also grown exponentially over the years. “We make a lot of 3D chocolate gifts. That includes a chocolate house that’s a great housewarming present and, at Easter, lots of bunny figures in coloured chocolate sweaters—they’re very popular.”
It’s best to order items like these in advance, Schulz adds, especially for the upcoming Valentine’s season. The store’s romantic special treats this year will include strawberries dipped in chocolate and gift boxes made from chocolate that are then filled with individual treats.
You're never far from a tempting treat at Sinfully the Best. | Photo: John Lee
Keep in mind, though, that this will be the last time you’ll be picking up your Valentine’s goodies at the Chatham Street store. After nine years (and two at the second location), Sinfully the Best is consolidating both its Steveston shops into a single larger store over the coming months. A five-minute walk away, renovations are already underway at 12251 No. 1 Road, formerly the Saigon by Night restaurant.
“We’re expecting to make the move by late spring,” says Schulz. “It’s a big change but the new store is in a much better village location right in the hub of things. And it will have a bigger square footage so we’ll be able to display more.”
That extra display space will likely mean more room for the store’s other line: a cleverly curated array of gourmet food items ranging from artisan jams to balsamic vinegars. “These are unique boutique products you won't easily find anywhere else. They’re also mostly Canadian—our current products are from Parksville, Quebec, Salt Spring Island, and beyond.”
Sinfully the Best carries an array of artisan foods. | Photo: John Lee
Do It Yourself
Another thing that won't change when the two stores become one is the shop’s popular program of classes. Typically up to three hours long and usually priced at $75 per person, upcoming themes include macarons, chocolate desserts, and 3D Valentine’s chocolate making. “Our classes are small and fun and you get to take home some very tasty products as well,” says Schultz.
The store’s website, she adds, lists upcoming classes. And you need to book ahead to reserve your spot, since they usually max out at 6 or 7 participants. Alternatively, if you have a group of like-minded friends who’d like to plan a party-like class for themselves, private bookings can also be arranged.
It’s clear that fun is never far away at this particular Steveston store. And that’s not going to change when it moves to its newly improved location. “Customers often tell us we look like we’re having a great time—and that they’d like to work here as well! But I think it all comes down to good-old fashioned customer service: we’ve always been a friendly store with high-quality but affordable products,” says Schulz.
If You Go:
Steveston’s Sinfully the Best is currently located at #13 - 3993 Chatham Street, at the corner of Chatham and No. 1 Road. Their second store is a 10-minute walk away at #115 - 3531 Bayview Street near Fisherman’s Wharf. Later this year—likely in spring—these stores will close and the new store will open at nearby 12252 No. 1 Road.