We were excited to go to The Chocolate Claim. We knew it was popular with the lunchtime crowd, so we opted to meet at 1 p.m. and to bring along two friends to reserve a table. Turned out to be a good move.

My companion and I got in line while our friends headed to the tables and chairs by the wall. We stood single file and looked through the glass that fronted the counters to display the delectable choices lined up for selection.

There were more options chalked on the board behind the counter, up on the wall – two kinds of soup, sandwiches, paninis, quiche – enough variety to satisfy many palates … and all kinds of coffee, tea and smoothies.

While we moved along the counter, single file, I had a chance to take in the surroundings: high ceilings, artsy lights, and huge windows that let in the sunshine.

The place was delightful to the senses with vibrant colours, the energetic hubbub, the sensual aroma of coffee, the mouthwatering offerings of sweet treats and the excitement of seeing familiar faces smiling in pleasant surprise.

The walls were adorned with works of art that were bright and cheerful and available for viewing and for purchase. There were products displayed on shelves and, here and there, jewelry sparkled beneath the ceiling lights, just waiting to be admired and bought to present to a loved one.

The smiling woman behind the counter was a delight. Whatever we wanted … “Take your time. Sure, you can have that … With? Without? No problem!”

Even in the midst of the activity and movement, we felt as if she had all the time in the world to do our bidding – and with pleasure, at that.

What fun!

My companion chose a latté with, naturally, a lovely artistic design on the top and a frilly lettuce-and-ham-and-tomato-and-cheese sandwich, with layers stacked impossibly high between the brown bread.

I decided on quiche (heated) and a simple coffee. I just can’t stretch that extra inch into adventure, it seems. The sandwich was to be shared with my companion’s friend, as it was too big for one person.

A second beautiful latté and a delicious coffee made it to the table our friends had saved for us. And a huge, sticky cinnamon bun arrived – masquerading as cake.

Our table was actually two tables pushed together and was just right, snugged in between other tables of two and four.

All around us, people were meeting and connecting and discovering old friends and making new ones. Everywhere I looked, I saw smiles and grins and the beginnings of delighted laughter.

It was like being inside of a snow globe that someone would reach over and shake now and again. The atmosphere was one of tranquil energy and excited serenity.

The chatter and activity danced around us like music, and we found ourselves smiling in rhythm.

Then, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone … I jumped up to the counter to order lattés and dessert. My new-found friend became a firm friend when I returned to the table with delectable dark-chocolate brownies!