Chow Chocolat

As many of you probably know, Chow Chocolat has opened another location on Elmwood near Breckenridge. While their downtown Main St. store has been open for years, foot traffic at that location is most likely lacking – a situation they tried to fix with a short stint in the Galleria Mall. (Very short: it probably wasn’t the most organic location for such a shop.) However, their new storefront within the Elmwood Village is a natural fit. The chocolatier fits in seamlessly nearby an art gallery, a gift shop, a gastropub, a soon-to-open organic café, and the rest of the strip. And while Chow Chocolat does part of its business as a premium, artisan purveyor of handmade chocolates, the interior of the new Elmwood location is beyond welcoming; it wouldn’t be hard to spend hours inside. Having just opened within the last week, it feels a bit sparse – maybe unfinished. According to the employees there, more and more desserts, drinks, and items are being brought in every day (something that I can personally attest to). In short, Chow Chocolat is doing nearly everything right and has made an immediate impact within just single-digit days.

The atmosphere is perfect, but what about the food – the sweets? Succinctly: they’re either unique creations that can’t be found elsewhere in Buffalo, or, best-in-class versions of items found elsewhere within our city. Over the course of three visits within the last week, this claim has only grown stronger. On my first visit, my cousin and I sampled a pistachio custard ($4, served in an able-to-be-brought-home plastic cup) and a box of 9 bonbons ($12).

The former, layered with pistachio custard, raspberries, whipped cream, and roasted/salted pistachios, was impeccable. Notably, it was unabashedly pistachio-flavored; it’s a testament to the quality of Chow Chocolat that no cheap-tasting almond extract was used here. The latter dessert, unfortunately, went uneaten. Upon getting out of my car and stepping outside, a forceful gust of wind took the bag of bonbons that I was carefully balancing upright out of my hands and onto the sidewalk, spilling the bonbons everywhere! It was one of those moments that should only happen in movies. The laughs and memories we got out of the scenario were worth the money, and we had thus had our minds made up for us: we would go back the next day – with a tighter grip, hopefully.

Within 24 hours, we were back in Chow Chocolat (with about 4 more people). This time around, we sampled slices of cheesecake and chocolate-almond layered cake ($6, $5), french-pressed coffee ($2), french lemonade ($3, which wasn’t available the previous day – a sign that Chow Chocolat is improving their selection each day), and – once again – various bonbons. At this point, Chow’s first signs of “new-ness” came out: shaky service. Including my group, there were now about 10 people in the café; when nearly all of us attempted to order in succession, things understandably slowed down. Due to the fact that Chow Chocolat currently has only one person working at a time, and the relatively labor intensive nature of the espresso drinks, we waited about 20 minutes until everyone received their orders. The wait wasn’t terrible, but this is something Chow Chocolat needs to figure out: how to deal with periods of few customers coupled with bursts of dozens of customers at a time; at this point, it’s a problem that places like Caffé Aroma, SPoT, and Coffee Culture don’t have to deal with.

The desserts though, were outstanding. The cheesecake and chocolate-almond cake were pure decadence – something to be shared. The former ever-light and the latter rich and dense, both desserts were instant favorites – each emblazoned with a signature Chow Chocolat bonbon. The drinks were perfect as well. The french lemonade was quintessentially Parisian: fresh lemon juice, sparkling water, and a touch of homemade simple syrup. Later in the day, my cousin and I carefully unwrapped our second box of bonbons and, without throwing them onto a sidewalk and encasing them in gravel, tasted each one: hazelnut gianduja, hot lips (chile), peanut butter, espresso, and pistachio and coffee macarons. Each bonbon was obviously delicious, with the hazelnut being the standout. The burst of homemade Nutella coupled with a freshly roasted hazelnut made this a dream for any hazelnut lover: a must try.

On my third and ultimate visit, my friend Avery and I tried the salted caramel custard ($4) and the caramel macchiato ($4). By the end of our “lunch”, we were in a euphoric state from all of the caramel; a good walk around the village brought us back down to reality. The custard was a mirror of the pistachio one I had earlier in the week: this one was simply layered with caramel custard, a layer of caramel, and whipped cream. Interestingly, each layer was salted – even the whipped cream – and the caramel flavor throughout was near-burnt, not sweet: a perfect combination that made this dessert complex and addicting, not cloying. Likewise, the caramel macchiato was based on that same salted caramel. This macchiato was truly best-in-class, beating out variations at any other coffeehouse in Buffalo. Drinks like this are a perfect example of why each ingredient in a dish should be cared about. While Chow Chocolat’s coffee isn’t as potent or robust as, say, SPoT’s, the homemade vanilla syrup (made with visible vanilla beans, not extract) and burnt salted caramel made this macchiato a memorable experience. An iced mocha that a friend had during my second visit likened the same remarks: the drink was her favorite version because of the use of artisan chocolate and handmade syrups. This chocolatier could give some serious lessons on how to prepare flavored espresso drinks to Buffalo’s other cafés.

Chow Chocolat on Urbanspoon


0 Responses to “Chow Chocolat”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

New Blog!!

Go visit MCL Squared!


April 2011
« Mar   May »


Facebook       Twitter

Flickr       Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: