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Dessert Week – Day 7: Chocolate Haven

Assorted chocolates at Jacques Torres

Despite being born, raised and professionally trained in France, New York considers Jacques Torres one of its own. With a charming French accent, relaxed European style and a mastery of pastry and chocolate that rivals the best in the world, Jacques Torres is an asset that any city would be proud of. After serving as Executive Pastry Chef at the famous New York restaurant, Le Cirque, Chef Torres opened his own factory and retail store in Brooklyn (in 2000) and is currently focusing on his newest Manhattan store, Chocolate Haven.

We visited Chocolate Haven when it first opened in December 2004, and found ourselves overjoyed with the selection of chocolate, but not with the look and feel of the space. For the culmination of dessert week we wanted to see how the store has grown in the last few months, and decided to trek (through the wind, snow and freezing cold of a winter storm) to Chocolate Haven once again.

The entrance to the store is a small, orange, lobby-like space that noticeably lacks any reference to Jacques Torres or chocolate. Stepping through a second door will lead you into the cocoa bean shaped chocolate shop, with a long, curved chocolate counter, small cafe and large windows with views into the chocolate factory. The design of the store is opposite of what the name suggests, and has industrial style orange and white walls, metal light fixtures, exposed air vents and cement floors. A chandelier and scattered flower and butterfly decorations help soften the atmosphere.

The selection available in the store has significantly increased since December; there are many small gifts and seasonal items, including Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies in various shapes, sizes and dress (one is even wearing a western “cowbunny” costume). After browsing the chocolate counter we decided to purchase a hot chocolate and a variety of chocolate pieces, all of which verified the claim that Jacques Torres is New York’s premier chocolatier. We left the store with our chocolate cravings satisfied, but still wondered why the word “haven” was selected for the name of such a modern looking space.

The cafe at Chocolate Haven

The details:

What we bought: 10 Assorted Chocolates ($1/each) and a small cup of hot chocolate ($3).

Cost: The price and quality of Jacques Torres chocolate can’t be beat. A $25 piece box of assorted truffles is only $24 at Jacques Torres, compared to $47 at MarieBelle.

Wait: Little to no wait at the cafe and chocolate counter.

The chocolate counter at Jacques Torres

Atmosphere: Despite the elite name Jacques Torres brings to the shop, the store is friendly and inviting. Bright colors, hard surfaces and views of the chocolate machinery make the space feel more like a factory than a comforting chocolate shop.

Uniqueness: The factory windows are characteristic of Jacques Torres’ uncommon willingness to share his knowledge and experience in the chocolate business. Customers can see everything from the production machinery to his choice of Belgian chocolate, Belcolade.

Factory workers making chocolate

Clientele: Chocolate enthusiasts, families, and lower Manhattan residents.

Location: Easily accessibly by subway, Chocolate Haven is just two blocks from the Houston stop on the 1/9 subway line.

Staff: Very friendly and eager to explain all of the chocolate varieties available.

Final Verdict: The best New York source for high quality, reasonably priced chocolates.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven
350 Hudson Street (at King)
(212) 414-2462

Dessert Week Wrap Up


Lovescool - For the Love of Dessert » Dessert Week Wrap-Up says on March 10th, 2005 at 8:27 pm:

[...] Magnolia Bakery The cupcake pioneer still serves up delicious old-fashioned desserts. 5) Chocolate Haven Reasonably priced chocolates from a premier chocolatier. 6) Serendip [...]

Becky says on March 10th, 2005 at 12:36 pm:

I’m new at exploring the world of gourmet choclates. I haven’t tried Jacques Torres chocolate yet. I have tried Vosges Haut-Chocolat though. They are based in Chicago but I believe have a place in New York. Have you tried them yet? How would you say they compare? I live in San Diego and have to have great chocolate shipped in. I like Vosges better than any other I’ve tried. Jacques looks good – is it worth having shipped to me?

Jessica says on March 10th, 2005 at 10:32 pm:

Looks like a great place! I went to Scharffen Berger and was shocked to pay $8 for three truffles. While the quality of the chocolate was good (intense flavor, no waxy residue), I didn’t like it that much. I like my chocolate to taste clean, but there was some background note (not acidic or floral) that I just didn’t like. Also, the tea and sea salt caramel truffles didn’t taste very exotic. I could hardly taste the tea or salt, so I felt gypped buying the “unique” flavors.

Kelli says on March 10th, 2005 at 11:00 pm:

Living in New York makes me so jaded when it comes to prices! $8 for truffles seems high, even for this city. I usually save purchases like that for special gifts (but only if the taste makes it worth it). I’ve had chocolate from both Scharffen Berger and Vosges, but not their truffles in particular. I’ll have to get to both soon.

Kelli says on March 13th, 2005 at 11:34 am:

Hi Becky – I’ve been thinking about Jacques Torres vs. Vosges and have to say the difference in their chocolates come down to a difference in style and texture more than anything. Jacques Torres is a thinner, square piece with much smoother consistency than Vosges, which has a more cruchy shell and thicker filling. I’d say it’s worth having some shipped to give it a try. I love his peanut butter chocolates (they’re made with hazlenuts, not peanuts) and the grand marnier is also excellent (it has a very light liquor flavor).

Becky says on March 14th, 2005 at 11:35 am:

Thanks Kelli! Good description of the difference.

krista says on May 13th, 2005 at 2:00 pm:

Having tried many gourmet chocolate at exorbitant prices I have to say I totally love Chocolate Haven the wicked fun chocolate is the total bomb!

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Lovescool is the documentation of a journey to discover what sweet things are out there, why people love them so much, and perhaps what it takes to start something new.

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An interest, that turned into a blog, that turned into a career. Kelli Bernard is now the owner and baker of Amai Tea & Bake House.

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