My daughter is a Jacques Torres groupie. Who is this short, semi-rotund, balding Frenchman that works miracles with cacao? He is the host of several TV shows dedicated to chocolate and desserts. A superb pastry chef, he had a long stint at the Hotel Negresco in Nice, then worked as a Pastry Chef for the famed, but now closed Le Cirque in New York before he opened his own stores (first in Brooklyn, now in Manhattan). Before we even landed in New York, my daughter was resolved to pay homage at his new Tribeca store. Located at 350 Hudson (on the corner of King Street), this is way down the west side of the island of Manhattan.
The enormous cacao bean shaped store is nestled into the center of a working chocolate â€œfactoryâ€. What is clever is that everything is visible because of clear glass walls. You actually feel as though you are in the factory. Just make sure you are there when they producing chocolates (I believe the factory operates Tuesday to Saturday but call them first to make sure). Within the store is a dizzying array of chocolates which you can select piece by piece in Â¼, Â½, and 1 pound boxes. These chocolates are laid out on chilled white marble counters and are actually very reasonably priced. Also on offer are bags of candies and chocolates, lollipops, chocolate animals, etc. My daughter was indeed in chocolate heaven, not haven. Personally, I thought some of it a bit cheesy and more of the â€œDisneyland-esqueâ€ version of chocolate when compared with say, my favorite La Maison du Chocolatâ€¦ but then again, they are patronized by completely different target markets.
We had two cookies to taste: a chocolate chip and a mud pie cookie, at USD2.50 a piece. They were very good. Large thin cookies about 5 inches in diameter, they were pre-cooked but heated on a hot plate just before serving. They were chewy and delicious. My daughter also ordered a hot chocolate that she rated as â€œvery goodâ€ and, trust me, she has rated many a hot chocolate from around the globeâ€¦ The store has seating areas where you can enjoy your cookies and chocolate. In the 20 minutes we spent in the store, there was a steady stream of customers that came in to â€œooh and aahâ€ and leave with more than just a few sweetsâ€¦ many struck me as TV fans, just like my daughter. If you must pay Chocolate Haven a visit be sure to ring them at 212-414-2462 to check on the kitchen schedule so you can see the chocolates actually being made.